When I look back at all the relationships that didn't work out (that I so wanted to at the time), I realize that in every case, there were early warning signs that my guy gave me that could have given me some idea of the heartbreak I was going to experience if I had only been aware of what to look for.
So, to spare you from what happened to me, to give you the inside scoop on what you can be on the lookout for, here’s my list of the warning signs that I didn't heed, that you can. Here they are, in no particular order …
1.) He doesn't call you when he says he will.
Granted, I know that sometimes life can get it the way, and if he’s working late on that big project with the looming deadline it’s possible that time might get away from him once in a while.
But if this happens more than once or twice, it’s a sure sign that you’re just not a priority for him right now. If a guy is really interested in starting (or continuing) a real relationship with you, you will be on his mind, and he won’t forget to call.
2.) He’s often late and doesn't call to let you know.
I know there are lots of reasons people can run late that are beyond their control (traffic jam, car problems, being stuck at the office), but a quick call from his cell phone will put your mind at ease, and let you know that you have a few more minutes to try on that one other outfit you were still considering.
The point here is about being respectful of your time – we can forgive lateness, even chronic lateness (some people just aren’t good at judging how much time something will take), but not calling to let you know he’ll be a little late?
That’s inexcusable and a sure sign that he’s not too concerned about you.
3.) He’s doesn't show up at all (and doesn't call) when you have plans to see him.
OK ladies, unless he was (verifiably) unconscious in a hospital somewhere, getting stood up is a “one strike and you’re out” offense.
There is absolutely no good reason for this (except the one above), and if you stay with him after a maneuver like that, you’ll be in for a very bumpy emotional ride that’s almost guaranteed to end badly. Cell phone reception is excellent these days (unless he’s a lumberjack working in the great North Woods), so this one is unforgivable.
4.) He has rules about how often he can see you.
It’s one thing to have the boys’ “Wednesday Poker Night”, or something along those lines, but if he’s only willing to get together say, every other weekend (with the exception being a child custody situation), then that’s a sure sign he’s keeping his options open and still scouring the market for something better (at least in his mind – he just doesn't realize that you’re the best thing going!).
5.) He knows way more about you than you know about him.
If you find yourself doing all the talking during your conversations, and when you ask him something about himself he doesn't say much, it may be because he’s hiding something or doesn't want to get too close to you.
Many guys just aren't big talkers, but if he hasn't told you the details of where he works, where he grew up, went to school, etc., and if he gives you vague answers when you ask him about these specifics, then that means he’s keeping you at a distance.
6.) You know way more about him than he knows about you.
This one is the flip side to the last warning sign - if he’s so busy talking all about himself, and shows no interest in who you are, what you like to do, or what your idea of the future looks like, this should be a real red flag.
The good news about this one is that there’s no danger of taking it personally – it’s all about him. It has nothing to do with you – this kind of guy isn’t interested in anyone – but himself.
Steer clear (way clear).
7.) He doesn't tell anyone about you. (Read: No one knows he has a girlfriend – YOU)
If he doesn't introduce you to his friends, or ask you to hang out with them once in a while, go to a party or get together with them - that’s a sure sign that he’s not sure about the whole thing.
Of course you may not want to hang out with his friends much, particularly if they’re a group of partying bachelors, but they should at least know about you, and it should be your decision.
How they treat you when you’re around can also be a big tell-tale sign of how things are going or will go – if they kind of treat you like “yeah, you’re the girlfriend of the month, I’ll talk to you if you can make it past week 4”, then that’s a sign of what’s likely to be coming next.
8.) He doesn't invite you to meet his family – ever.
Of course inviting you to meet the family is a big deal, as it should be, and it doesn't happen until he feels like this thing is going somewhere.
So that’s just it – if time is starting to drag on, and he still hasn't invited you to meet his family, the likelihood is that he’s having doubts about the relationship. There is the outside chance that he’s embarrassed by his family. I have a good friend whose husband’s family (which consists of his elderly mother and Aunt, who raised him together and still both live together) are essentially, well, mildly deranged.
They look like the stereotypical “bag ladies”, and even showed up for my friends nuptials wearing multiple layers of ragged clothing and carrying some of their belongings in what were essentially re-usable shopping bags.
But he had told her about them fairly early on in their relationship, and she did finally meet them. And let me say, as far as mildly deranged people go, they’re very sweet (I met them at the wedding), and they did a great job at raising their son/nephew.
So the bottom line is that if the relationship has been going on for some time – just to put a number on it, let’s say over 6 months – and he hasn't invited you to meet his family yet, it’s certainly time to question him about it. If he still doesn't introduce you? Time to start planning your exit strategy.
9.) He doesn't spend the holidays with you.
I know there are situations, such as when a divorced man wants to spend time with his children at the family holiday get together, but even then he can make time for you either before or after his family time.
Everyone knows how special holidays are to us women, and if he doesn't, then that’s a sign of other issues (for example, not being considerate and thoughtful regarding your feelings). If he’s just taking off on a surf vacation to Bali with his buddies over the holidays because that’s when it’s less crowded, and you’re not invited, then you’re clearly a low priority to him.
10.) He’s got lots of female friends – and makes sure you know this.
In my experience, “platonic” friendships are rarely, if ever, that – there are almost always some feelings in one direction or the other.
Either the guy is secretly harboring feelings for the girl, or vice-versa. And when a guy is in a relationship, he has so much less time to spend with his buddies – why on earth would he ever choose to spend that precious time with another woman? Well, there are a number of reasons he might, and they all involve one deep seated issue or another, and none of them are good.
And making sure you know about it? That’s just playing games, and just another reason to get out and find yourself an emotionally healthy man to be in a relationship with.
11.) He doesn't tell you what he’s doing, where he’s going, or when he’ll be back.
If your guy likes to keep you guessing, there’s a reason. This is another sure sign that he’s keeping his options open.
In a healthy relationship there’s no hiding or secrets. If he’s not being open and upfront about his whereabouts, then stop worrying about it – just move on.
12.) He doesn't talk about his plans for the future with you.
I’m all for living in the moment and enjoying the “now”. But eventually in a relationship a discussion of future plans has got to come up – otherwise you’ll never know if the two of you are sailing together or heading towards different continents.
If he’s not at least occasionally talking about the future with you then chances are, in his mind, you’re not in it.
13.) He lets you know he had a life without you and he still has a life without you.
I mean, sure, when you’re first dating, it’s interesting to hear about the places your guy has been and all of the fun times he’s had with his friends.
But if he’s still reminiscing about his single life escapades after your relationship has moved to the next level, or worse, making plans to have more of those escapades (without you), then the truth is he still wants to be single. Let him.
14.) You feel like if you could just change yourself and not be so needy, this would all work out.
This is by far the biggest warning sign of all.
If you start to feel that there’s something wrong with you, or you’re doing something wrong that’s causing him to pull away, and maybe if you just gave him more of the freedom he wants, and wait for him quietly, and…well, you get it.
Don’t fall into this trap. If you want a real relationship, equipped with real feelings, real caring, real consideration, and real romance, and he doesn't, then he’s not the right guy for you and let him (and yourself) go.
So if you see any of these warning signs, and especially if you see several of them, chances are that this is not a guy that’s looking for a real relationship right now – or at least not the kind you’re looking for.
Your best bet is to walk away gracefully, with your self-esteem intact, and not look back (even if he then starts calling you and chasing you – that’s just a sign of a game-player with deeper issues).
Rather than trying to get him to change or waiting for him to come around, try focusing on you and why you’re in a relationship with someone like this. If you find yourself in this type of relationship often, which many of us do, it’s time for some real soul searching to get to the root of it.
If you have access to good counseling, take advantage of it, as many times this is the only way to true healing. And it will be worth it in the long run, to get you past the cycle of toxic relationships so you can move on to the kind of true, sustainable love that you want to attract into your life.
Sometimes it’s hard to see when we’re in it, but know that if you’re settling for less than you deserve, there truly is someone out there ready and waiting to give you what you’re looking for – and to treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
It’s in believing in ourselves, trusting our gut instincts and discovering who we really are and what we’re really looking for, that all the other pieces of the puzzle fall into place and we find ourselves finally getting it right and discovering the love of our lives – the one who doesn't come with any red flags.
And you deserve nothing less than that, no matter where you've been or what you've been through.
It’s all out there waiting for you!