Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.
It can be hard to realize when a relationship isn’t working, particularly when you really, really want it to work.
Far too often, relationships turn into lop-sided partnerships, where one partner ends up putting in way more effort than the other. Which can make it difficult for the partner who has been doing the majority of work to admit that maybe, in the end, all that struggle wasn’t really worth it.
THIS is why being able to see and recognize relationship red flags is so important. Because who has the time or energy to waste weeks, months, or years of your life on someone who isn’t going to be there for you?
But how do you recognize those red flags early on? Looking for advice, we spoke to Kala and Angela Spigarelli, long-time attorneys and the creators of Undolus, an online service all about helping women avoid mistakes when they’re dating. Using Undolus, a woman can run a background check on any potential new partners and read online reviews of those men, left by the women who know them best.
The Spigarellis started Undolus after they both went through divorce and heard constant horror stories from their friends, family, and clients about smart, successful women throwing their lives away on the wrong guys. This inspired the sisters to create a platform that made women feel more confident and empowered while dating, but also gave the women a sense that someone was watching their back.
All that experience and advocacy makes the Spigarellis dating red flag experts in our book, so we asked Kala and Angela to share the five signs women ignore way too often that can point to a very problematic relationship.
Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of thinking these are no big deal. It's better to know he's wrong for you now before you waste any more time. You deserve more than mediocre love, trust us.
1. You make yourself the butt of his jokes.
The best way to make sure your partner respects you is to show him that you respect yourself. “NEVER make self-deprecating jokes,” says the Spigarellis. Yes, humility can be attractive, but, too often, turning yourself into a target signals your partner that he doesn’t need to respect you. Also, there’s no need to specifically show him the best ways to be critical of you. If you find that you’re both laughing at YOU more than anything else in your relationship, you might have a serious problem.
2. He doesn't make plans in advance — or keep them.
Not all men are fantastic planners, but if your man is constantly inviting you out at the last second, it’s not a great sign. Sure, spontaneous fun stuff happens, but if your partner NEVER wants to plan anything in advance with you, according to the Spigarellis, “he probably wasn’t thinking about you or knows you will drop everything to be available at the drop of a hat when he does get around to thinking about you.”
(Translation: He thinks you have no life.)
3. He trashes his ex when he talks to you.
Most people have a terrible ex (or two) in their past, but it’s worth paying attention to how your man talks about his former flames. The Spigarellis point out, “Name calling, reliving the past, or displaying anger is probably not the sign of a well-adjusted man.” Try to keep in mind — if you two break up soon, would you be comfortable hearing someone talk about you in this way? Do you ever want to see this side of your man directed at you?
(This is another reason why services like Undolus are so important. Being able to read real, unvarnished reviews of men from their former partners can be really illuminating — the same thing goes for background checks. If your man is constantly living in the past, it might be good to know if he’s giving you the honest truth about his history.)
4. You always have to call or text him first.
This can be an easy one to ignore, but it’s important. Are you always the one who calls him first? Does he only ever call or text you after you’ve initiated contact? It might sound petty, but “who calls who” does matter. If your man is constantly reacting to you rather than actively seeking out your company, it speaks to an imbalance in the relationship.
The Spigarellis put it plainly, “Would you tell your daughter to call him if she was being ignored? NO. We all know what him not calling means.”
5. Your gut tells you something is wrong.
This is one of the most natural ways to feel out a red flag in a relationship, but it can often be the hardest one to pay attention to. If you’re feeling insecure or anxious about your relationship, there’s probably a problem you haven’t acknowledged yet. Your body, your instincts, your inner voice are all trying to tell you that something is OFF. And you need to listen to that.
So, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re overanalyzing things or that you’re being unreasonable. “You know what it feels like to be treated as a priority, even if it’s been a while," says the Spigarellis. "Hold out for that.”
Remember: A relationship is supposed to be a partnership.
And you need to treat it like an actual partnership. In business, you would never start a new venture or co-sign a contract with a partner you hadn’t thoroughly vetted first. You would want to know about their risks and liabilities WAY before you ever tied yourself to them legally.
The same logic should apply to starting a relationship. Before you invest all of your time and mental energy in a guy, check him out on Undolus first. Run a background check, see what people are saying about him, do your homework.
Take it from the founders of Undolus: “Set goals. Set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no. Talk to friends. Trust your intuition.”
Don’t ignore red flags. You deserve to be in a relationship where both partners are 100% ALL IN. Don’t ever ignore a sign that tells you that you deserve BETTER.
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This article was created in partnership with Undolus.