12 Relationship Red Flags You Should Pay Attention To On The First Date

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It's been four years since my last long-term relationship, and I've had a litany of dating adventures (and misadventures) since then. This means a lot of data gathering and frogs kissed, people. I'm basically an expert at being single.

I have dated guys who are still trying to get it together, guys who appear to have it all together, but actually have nothing figured out, guys who want to move in and get married after three dates, guys who can't get over their exes, sociopaths, commitment-phobes, love addicts, too damaged-from-their-last-relationship guys, geographically distant guys and emotionally unavailable guys.

All of my experiences have made me smarter, stronger and better at dating. They have shown me to never ignore important warning signs and to never settle.

Dating is not for the faint of heart. You must remember to keep fighting for yourself and appreciate your own worth. You're fabulous, darling, and you shouldn't accept anything less than you deserve.

Want to learn how to date smart? Listen up. These are the 12 early-stage relationship red flags you've probably been ignoring and should pay attention to immediately:

1. When He Violates Your Sense Of Security

Establishing a sense of trust and security in a relationship, only to immediately destroy it, is manipulative and painful. It's important to be in a place of mutual trust and respect at all times.

2. When He's A Pro At The Hot And Cold Game

Who loves breaking up and making up? Not me. Those games are for kids, not adults who are interested in a loving partnership.

3. When The Ex Is In The Not-So-Distant Past

Remember that you both need to be emotionally available in order to create a healthy relationship dynamic. If she keeps coming back in the picture, or if you still have to deal with his uncertainty about whether he's really ready to move on, it can be a painful and emotional roller coaster.

4. When He Doesn't Do What He Says He'll Do

His maturity and integrity should be called into question. You need someone who is going to show up for you.

You need someone you can rely on. Don't settle for anything less.

5. When He's Inconsistent

This is perhaps the most maddening red flag on this list. It causes us to panic, feel crazy and blame ourselves.

We wonder what's wrong with us, and what we did to cause the change. Repeat after me: The problem is not you, it's him.

6. When You Catch Him Being Dishonest

Dishonesty is never acceptable because it violates the fundamental trust in a relationship. Without trust, there is no future.

7. When He's Insecure About Your Male Friends

In this case, he's probably sustaining inappropriate relationships with his female friends. This will also always leave you feeling like you have to prove to him that he can trust you, and that is absolutely exhausting.

8. When He Takes Cheap Shots At Activities You Enjoy

This is often indicative of a deeper sense of insecurity. He's upset that you like something else more than you like spending time with him.

If he doesn't want to join you in whatever it is you are doing, he probably isn't a keeper. You need a partner in crime, not a drama queen.

9. When He's Not Asking For Commitment

This may either mean that he's keeping his options open or isn't emotionally available. Both are good reasons to say goodbye.

When a guy wants you, he makes sure to take you off the market. Make sure he's playing for keeps.

10. When Your Intuition Tells You Something Isn't Right

The test of "trusting my gut" has held up over time, and it has only gotten sharper. Your first instinct is usually the right one. Trust yourself.

11. When He Makes You Wait

It doesn't matter what you're waiting for, whether it's his in-person arrival, his phone call, his apology or his explanation. You're much too busy to put up with that.

12. When It's Too Hard Too Early

It'll probably only get harder. There may be a few blips in the beginning, but the relationship should not be constant trial and error.

Dating is a challenge, but take comfort in the fact that the right one is absolutely out there for you. Stay true to yourself, don't ignore these warning signs and never give up hope. Love is just around the corner, and it changes everything.