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Secrets Of A Matchmaker: Secret #5

The important distinction to make is that red flags are not related to preferences, looks, or attractiveness (e.g. height). They are related to...

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If you’re new to Heartalytics — Matchmaker and Somatic Psychologist, Lauren Korshak, kicked off her Secrets of a Matchmaker series at the beginning of December. If you missed Secret #1, catch up here.

Secret #5: Hearken Your Hunches

In dating, we often overlook red flags. It’s not that we can’t detect them (we usually do), but instead of truly considering the warning signal, we talk ourselves out of being concerned. Perhaps we know that we have a tendency to get in our own way, so we tell ourselves “it’s no big deal.”  We want to give the other person a chance to break through our formidable barricade of defenses. 

Take care daters!

I would argue that often in these situations, we are overlooking a healthy instinct. Yes, it’s important to be open-minded — but it’s also equally important to be thoughtful and judicious in our love lives. This line can be tricky to draw when pheromones and the heat of attraction are involved. The challenge comes in how to balance the persnickety with the cautious. And the solution comes when you’ve achieved a secure sense of self and developed solid personal boundaries.

At the nexus of healthy relationships is one constant: both parties know their edges, and also know how (and when) to assert them.
 

When do we have trouble adhering to our own boundaries? Perhaps you’ve heard the phrases, “men like bitches,” or “women like bad boys.” These stereotypes allude to this baffling paradox: we are often ineffably drawn to those who can say “no” to us. Have you experienced this? And here lies another balancing act — how do you stay true to your boundaries without being “bitchy?” Can you be open-hearted and open-minded while also saying “no” to what’s not working?

The key here is a simple 2 step process: 

  1. Identify (and acknowledge) the “red flag.”
  2. Discern whether you’re dealing with an actual “red flag” or an imperfection. 

No one is perfect and everyone is going to have their own special “bag of worms.” But when do those little flaws equal a red flag? When are those issues enough to indicate this relationship is not the one for you? And how many “red flags” does a person get?

The answers to these questions can vary from person to person, but as a matchmaker I follow some general guidelines. 

The important distinction to make is that red flags are not related to preferences, looks, or attractiveness (e.g. height). 
 

They are related to deeper qualities and how the person makes you feel. Here is my general list of what constitutes a red flag:

  • There is extreme incongruence between his/her words and actions early on – something feels “off” or he/she says one thing and does another.
  • He/she demonstrates insensitivity to you, your wants, and/or your needs.
  • He/she is unable to communicate their own wants and needs; i.e. expects you to be a mindreader.
  • His/her future goals are not compatible with yours.
  • He/she demonstrates high levels of anxiety that are not improved with your support and understanding.
  • You feel that you have to validate his/her every action due to his/her insecurity.
  • You find yourself having to change yourself for him/her very early in the relationship to make the relationship work (e.g. he/she says they will not date you unless you do xyz or wear xyz).
  • You feel a higher level of anxiety than you usually do in relationships, like you are on an emotional roller coaster.

To address how many red flags a person gets, I generally follow the stoplight policy: one red flag may be grounds for further investigation rather than complete dismissal (green light). Two red flags means it’s time to slow down and really dig deeper (yellow light).

Three red flags means it’s time for a break — you need space to consider these red flags on your own, away from the relationship (red light).  
 

Love Lesson: Adopt my red flag check-list. Reflect on red flags in your past and present relationships. Copy down the red flags from my list that resonate with you, and adjust those that don’t to your own variation. Add your own personal red flags. Post the list somewhere you will be able to reference it, and make a plan to take periodic inventory of yourself when dating or in relationships, and to heed those warning signs.

Apply the stoplight policy to your own life: Take inventory of your relationships and assess how many red flags you’ve noticed in each of your relationships.

See you next week on Secrets Of A Matchmaker: Secret #6!

Lauren Korshak
Therapist + Dating Coach + Matchmaker

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