Relationship Forming Red Flags (RFRFs)


I am one of those people who is not qualified to give relationship advice, as in, the kind of advice about how to find and maintain a healthy relationship.  However, I am highly qualified to give advice about what can make a relationship fail.  I am sharing my RFRFs in the hopes that you might, at the least, find them funny.  One or more of them might even be helpful.  RFRFs  are those warning signs that I always, I repeat ALWAYS, ignored.  Those signs that said, in no uncertain terms, turn around and walk (or run) away.  Red flags for me might not be the same for you, but I tend to think some are universal.  Some RFRFs reveal qualities in a person that will eventually make it impossible for you to have a relationship with that person.  Read and laugh and/or cringe, as the case may be.

Red Flag #1 – “I am a virgin.”  

If you are over 25, you should never hear these words (or any version of this statement) from someone you date.  In my late 20s, early 30s I went through a string of virgins.  One was 19 which was not completely out-of-the-range-of-normal for him, but I was 29.  Enough said?  Another was 40.  This is funny and endearing in movie-land.  In real life, not okay.  Finally, when a 34 year-old said it to me, I walked away.  I got it.

Red Flag #2 – “It’s just sex, okay?”  

It’s never “justsex.”  If it’s justsex for both of you in the beginning, it will not be justsex for both of you at the end (and there will be an end).  If it’s justsex for you, it will not be justsex for him.  It it’s justsex for him, it will not be justsex for you.  I can keep rewording this, but I think my point has been made.

Red Flag #3 – You say to a confidant – “I could never be with so-and-so because _____(fill-in-the-blank with anything).”

If you find yourself telling your best girlfriend that you can never be in a long-term relationship with a guy because….TRUST yourself.  You are right!  A friend of mine said to me, “I could never be with Bill because he is just strung way too tight.  We disagree about too many things.  We are just totally different.”  Two months later, she was engaged to him.  Seven years later, she has finally extricated herself from Bill, the sociopath.  Why do we ignore those initial instincts?

Red Flag #4 – Any, ANY, sexual identity confusion emerges about the person-of-interest from any source no matter how unreliable.  

So the story goes like this.  I was working at a Wall Street start-up firm.  A lot of smart, beautiful young people thrown together working crazy hours.  I can’t remember how it happened, but I made a date with a very handsome man from another department of the same firm.  We had only passed each other in the hallways.  It was going to be somewhat of a blind date.  I told a colleague, she said, “But he’s gay.”  I scoffed, “No he isn’t because we are going on a date.”  I told another colleague, he said, “I thought he was gay.”  Red flags flying!  Or maybe it was rainbow flags flying!  Did I see them?  Noooooooo!  I was the enlightened one.  I was the open-minded one.  I was the one who didn’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Three dates later, I’m sitting on a bench with the not-gay man.  I think we were talking about the weather or some other completely benign topic.  All of a sudden, he turns to me and in a defensive, or perhaps it was even an angry, voice says, “I have no issues with my sexual identity!  I’ve talked about this with my therapist and I don’t!”  Um, okay?  I’d like to say that was the end of our dating, but no it went on for a few more months.  It, um, didn’t work out.

Red Flag #5 – “Animals belong on farms, outside.” or “I’m allergic to ____(fill-in-the-blank with your most beloved pet).”  I am a pet-lover.  My pets (currently my 3 cats) are a part of the family.  I feel the same about dogs.  And I believe cats and dogs belong inside when the people are inside, in bed when the people are in bed, etc.  Unless, of course, you actually live on a farm.  Then you can have lots and lots of animals both inside and out.  This belief/feeling has just gotten stronger for me as the years go by.  There are animal-people and not-animal-people.  If you’re not sure which one you are, then it’s safe to assume you are a not-animal-person.  Because if you are an animal-person, you know it.  (Following me so far?)  And if you are, in fact, an animal-person, then you must also accept that you should never, not ever, be with a not-animal-person.  It’s really quite simple.

If you’re an animal-person, you also know that animals know right away if someone is not right for you.  A short story.  I dated a guy.  Let’s call him Stan.  I wasn’t that keen on Stan, but he courted me old-fashion style and it was nice to receive flowers and fancy dinners.  He was the one who made the statement, “Animals belong outside.” as he shooed away my beautiful calico, Ripken.  When he would visit, he would put his sunglasses, keys, etc. on the counter.  Ripken would delicately make her way through all of the things on the counter and one-by-one knock his things off.  She would then sit there staring at Stan.  I’m sure she was thinking, “You are so out of here, buddy.”  I’ve heard other stories of friendly dogs, growling at a potential suitor for no apparent reason.  The animals pretty much never get it wrong.  Finally, Stan said to me, “I saw a flea in the bed!  It’s from your cat.  Your cat has fleas.”  Although Ripken had never spent even a second outdoors and had no opportunity to catch fleas, I freaked out.  I took her to the vet to get a flea bath and spent a small fortune on flea bombs for my apartment.  When I went to pick up Ripken, the vet said she didn’t think my cat had fleas.  She hadn’t seen any sign of fleas, but gave her the bath just in case.  I realized that Stan must have thought I would actually get rid of my cat if she had fleas!  The very idea!  That was the end of Stan, the not-animal-person (and jerk!).


These are a few RFRFs that particularly stand out to me.  I’m sure there are many more and I’d love to hear other people’s  RFRFs.  If you want to share how successful your dating-life is or was or how to build a wonderful relationship, you can start your own blog.  However, if you happen to know a non-virgin, confidently heterosexual, animal-person man who is also very intelligent, politically and socially liberal, painfully honest, and good-looking and who would love to spend hours skateboarding and playing any sport involving a ball with a 5-year-old ADHD boy and at the same can treat the boy’s mother like the princess that she is, well give him my number!



One response »

  1. I can add another RFRF although I haven’t dated in a couple of decades, and I probably never will again. In fact, if Paul is the first to kick the bucket, I plan to move in with my sister and live in a condo in an urban area with access to awesome music, organic food, and paddle-boarding (sound like any place you know?). My RFRF is “I don’t like classical music.” I like many different genres of music in addition to classical – indie rock, blues, jazz, country (in moderation), Broadway show tunes, contemporary Christian, etc. I just wish my husband would go to a symphony, opera, chamber music (you get the idea) with me sometime.

    Your RFRFs are very thought-provoking and make sense. I’ve struggled with my views on abstinence over the years. I think one of the reasons I got married so young is because we wanted to have sex, and the only way we could have sex and not burn in hell was to get married.

    Keep up the writing!! I enjoy your posts.

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