Are you unable to spot talking stage red flags? Reminds me of a famous dialogue from the series Bojack Horseman, which goes like, “You know, it’s funny… when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.”
As Wanda states it, sometimes you look right through red flags because you are too blindly infatuated with the new person in your life. And when you do begin to recognize them, it is often too late. So, we made a handy list of red flags to look for in the talking stage itself.
How do you know if the talking stage is going well? Let’s find out, with the help of emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada (certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney). She specializes in counseling for extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief and loss, to name a few.
What Is The Talking Stage In Dating?
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The talking stage in dating is one of the best parts of a new romance. It’s the part where you get to know the person. You get so engrossed in your conversations that nights turn into mornings and you don’t even realize that so many hours have passed you by. It’s the stage where everything is fresh and new…curiosity and mystery engulf you. You are punctual in sending good morning and good night texts (your boss wishes you would report to the office with that discipline). How do you know if the talking stage is going well? Pooja points out some positive deal-setters:
- If there is no sense of being forced to hurry into taking the relationship to the next level
- If the other person allows you space
- If the interest and initiative are mutual
Related Reading: The Talking Stage: How To Navigate It Like A Pro
It is easy to lose yourself (like you are losing your sleep) amidst all the butterflies and the flirting. That’s why it’s important to have some rules in the talking stage. Pooja suggests a few:
- You must not start sharing everything about yourself with someone new
- Sending intimate pictures is a strict no-no
- Beware of letting them know about all your whereabouts
- Do not jump to video calls quickly
- Be mindful of whatever you may share
The 15 Talking Stage Red Flags That Most People Ignore
Pooja explains, “Red flags are warning signs that raise themselves from time to time about any situation, indicating danger ahead. In the talking stage, some common red flags can be inconsistent information, beginning of conversation only at odd hours, asking for personal details, asking for intimate photos, redirecting every interaction toward sexting, asking for money or financial help, etc.” Let’s look at these talking stage red flags in greater detail.
1. You are their emotional dumping ground
Kim Kardashian had written on her Instagram, “Girls can see the difference between 200 shades of nude lipstick but they can’t see red flags.” That statement is especially true of a girl who ignores silent red flags when talking to a guy online. We tend to turn a blind eye to the talking stage red flags that stare right into our faces. All we can see in the initial stages is how tall they are or how cute their smile is.
How do you know if the talking stage is going well? It certainly doesn’t start with you being their therapist. If in the initial days of conversing, they end up dumping their emotional baggage on you, maybe you can cross that off your dating red flags checklist. The talking stage is all about connecting over likes and dislikes. Listening to someone’s problems without even knowing them properly could get a little overwhelming.
2. They miss you only at night
This takes me back to the lyrics of the famous song by Arctic Monkeys, “Now it’s three in the mornin’ and I’m tryin’ to change your mind, Left you multiple missed calls and to my message, you reply, Why’d you only call me when you’re high?”
Wondering how they end up thinking about you only when the clock hits 3 AM? Yes, it’s one of the red flags to look for in the talking stage. Next time they ask you to send you nudes, just send a picture of your newly done nude nails. Or a picture of noodles (because ‘noods’). Jokes apart, if all they want to do is sext, it’s a sign of trouble. Fuccboi alert. Run in the opposite direction.
3. Your friends and family members hate them
Remember when you were a child and your mom hated a certain friend of yours? Remember the “I told you so” look on your mom’s face when that friend ended up backstabbing you? Yes, sometimes our well-wishers can see the talking stage red flags that we may be blind to. Trust them when they tell you that the person you are talking to is not right for you.
4. Looking for talking stage red flags? Gaslighting is one of them
What is the meaning of gaslighting? Pooja breaks it down for us, “Gaslighting in relationships is a complex emotional phenomenon where a person can make you doubt yourself and you start believing the version of reality that they feed you. In the talking stage, if someone is always contradicting you, demeaning or negating your feelings and lived experiences, then it can be an early sign of gaslighting.”
Research points out that a gaslighter would try to break your introspective mirror so that you end up doubting yourself. Gaslighters use tactics like denial, misdirection, contraction, and lying. So, if you see early signs of questioning your own sanity, it is definitely one of the talking stage red flags.
5. Asking for money or financial help
What are the red flags when talking to a guy online? If he is asking you for money because he is in an ‘emergency’, it is a major warning sign. Likewise, if she expects you to pay at the end of every date and also be her personal driver, it is a talking stage red flag in a girl. If you can’t stop listening to On my Own by Kayan, then the last thing you would want is to talk to a person who keeps asking you for money. The lyrics of the song go, “I like it on my own, yea…Money money I’ll make that…”
6. They bad mouth all their exes
If they talk unpleasantly about all their exes and how all of them were toxic, maybe their exes are not the only ones to blame. Don’t buy their puppy dog eyes and their stories about how cheated and heartbroken they feel. Blame-shifting is an early sign of toxicity. What if they badmouth you when things get nasty between you two?
7. They are drunk or high all the time
Pooja emphasizes, “Any kind of substance dependence or addiction can make the person mentally unstable and not fit for a stable relationship. Till they address this issue, it is a definite talking stage red flag.” We are not talking about an occasional glass of wine here. But if the person you are talking to heavily uses alcohol or marijuana as a coping mechanism, please watch out. It could be one of the talking stage red flags as it’s one of the signs of low self-esteem.
There is no dearth of studies that correlate alcohol usage and intimate partner violence. So, if they jokingly call themselves a ‘borderline alcoholic’, maybe it’s time for some introspection. Maybe, the dating red flags checklist has got more to do with you than the person that you are talking to.
8. Love bombing is one of the talking stage red flags
Pooja articulates, “Excessive, overwhelming overload of love is known as love bombing. The receiver feels overwhelmed by so much love being showered on them all of a sudden. However, this can be a red flag sometimes as this might indicate that the other person is trying to blindside you by showing you a more than perfect picture.”
Research points out that people who love bomb have high levels of narcissism and low levels of self-esteem. Using too much text and media in romantic relationships is a sign of love bombing and hence a talking stage red flag. The study also points out that love bombing is related to avoidant and anxious attachment styles.
9. Emotional Immaturity
What are some of the examples of lack of emotional maturity? Would it be one of the red flags to look for in the talking stage? Pooja answers, “It’s emotional immaturity if they expect you to respond to texts within seconds and get annoyed if you cannot take their call. Sometimes it shows they are not mature enough to handle your real life or theirs. Yes, it can be one of the talking stage red flags if you are looking for a balanced and mature connection.”
Related Reading: 13 Signs You Are Dating An Immature Person And What Should You Do
10. Extreme jealousy or mistrust
Clients often ask Pooja, “If someone is extremely jealous and distrustful, would it be one of the talking stage red flags?” Her response to this question is, “This is a definite red flag. If in the talking stage itself, they start behaving like they own you and get jealous and are full of distrust, it’s a bad sign.” What does jealousy in a relationship indicate?
A study was conducted on college students in premarital relationships to establish links between jealousy and relationship closeness. This study defined the positive and negative attributes of romantic jealousy, clearly distinguishing emotional/reactive jealousy as mostly “good” and cognitive/suspicious jealousy as “bad”.
“A little bit of jealousy in a healthy relationship is fine,” says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., author of Why We Love, “It’s going to wake you up. When you’re reminded that your mate is attractive and that you’re lucky, it can stimulate you to be nicer [and] friendlier. However, when jealousy is chronic, debilitating and overt – well, that’s when it becomes a problem.”
11. They jokingly put you down
My friend, Sarah, keeps getting roasted by the new guy she is talking to. He says some really hurtful things to her in the name of dark humor. But she forces herself to pretend she has thick skin because she does not want to come across as a person who cannot take a joke.
She asked, “If they try to put me down jokingly or make me feel embarrassed, would that be a talking stage red flag?” To which, Pooja responds, “An insult can never be a joke, and humor at the cost of putting someone down can never be healthy. Yes, this is a red flag when talking to a guy online.”
12. They don’t respect your boundaries
What are the examples of emotional boundaries in relationships? What does it mean when a person respects our boundaries? How to spot if boundaries are being crossed in the talking stage? Pooja answers, “Your priorities, your choices, your opinions shall matter. The person you’re talking to may disagree with these but in a dignified manner. If they constantly want to have it their way and expect you to change as per their demands, this can be a definite talking stage red flag. They are stepping on your toes and disrespecting your boundaries.”
13. Lack of hobbies
Is having no hobbies one of the talking stage red flags? Pooja points out, “Almost everyone has something that they love to do in their leisure time. It is rare for people to not have an active hobby. Those who don’t are predisposed to quickly becoming obsessed with you.”
Are you looking for green flags in a relationship and trying to play by certain mutually agreed-upon rules in the talking stage? Look for someone with passions and interests. It could be badminton, dancing, painting or even watching films. Dating someone interesting will give a wide range of topics to talk about and keep your connection fresh. More importantly, such a person will never leave you feeling suffocated.
14. They only want to talk online
When somebody cancels on you at the last minute, does that qualify as a red flag? Pooja says, “You can give the person the benefit of the doubt if they cancel on you once or twice. But if they don’t want to see you in person and only talk online, it might be indicative of the fact that they might be hiding something.”
Related Reading: Can You Fall In Love With Someone Online Without Meeting Them?
A lot of my friends use dating apps to just stroke their egos. It’s pre-decided that they won’t end up meeting the person that they are talking to. But it kills their loneliness and makes them feel desired and validated. So, if someone makes a terrible excuse every time you bring up a meeting in person, it is a talking stage red flag for sure.
15. They don’t want to up the intimacy
Pooja is often asked the question, “If they tell me they are not ready for a relationship, is that a talking stage red flag?” Her answer to this is, “It all depends on how long you both have been talking. Of course, nobody would be ready for a relationship after just one or two conversations. But if even after prolonged interactions, they don’t want to move forward in the relationship, it could be a red flag.”
So, if you are seeing someone who is not on the same page as you, cross that off your dating red flags checklist. Being with someone who doesn’t know what they want can be emotionally exhausting. On the first day, they say they want to be just friends. Then they say they want a casual relationship. They even start leaning toward wanting a relationship but chicken out when things start to get a little intimate. After all, the talking stage is fun until things start to get real.
- If they expect you to be their therapist, are interested in sexting only and get extremely jealous, these could be red flags during the talking stage
- Other red flags could include gaslighting, love bombing, lack of emotional maturity and lack of respect for your boundaries
- If your friends and family members hate them and they bad mouth all their exes, these could be the other red flags that most people ignore
- Also beware if they don’t want to meet you in person or chicken out the moment things start getting a little intimate between you two
Finally, red is a color that you may dig when bleaching your hair but definitely not when dating someone. When your gut keeps telling you there is danger ahead, do yourself a favor and listen to it. Also, if you are someone who consistently ends up falling for red flags, maybe there are deeper patterns at work. It may have a lot to do with your childhood trauma or attachment style. A licensed therapist can help you break such deep-rooted behavioral patterns. Experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel have helped a lot of people in similar situations. You too could benefit from their expertise and find the answers you have been looking for.