I’m flattered enough to be in a romantic relationship that I don’t tend to ask a lot of questions for fear of chasing away any chances of making it work. So when I started a long-term relationship began with a guy I’d been crushing on from the second we met, I didn’t say anything when these red flags started waving. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well.
1. HE LIVED WITH HIS MOM FOR NO GOOD REASON.
I’m not here to shame anyone. Living with your parents can be a great way to get past a bought of unemployment, start kicking some student loan butt, or help your parents as they get older. But by the time I started dating him, he was in a well-paying job with a public loan forgiveness program and his mom could run a faster mile than either of us, so I never did understand what continued to be the draw of us having to duck around like high schoolers.
2. HE ALMOST NEVER WANTED TO SLEEP OVER (OR LET ME SLEEP AT HIS PLACE).
I would stay at his house or he’d stay at my apartment until two or three in the morning, then we’d lean against the extra car outside and talk for another half hour before we could pull ourselves away. Yet I had to press harder than I was comfortable doing to get an invitation to stay over, or to convince him to stay at mine. I felt like by not literally sleeping together, we were missing out on a huge bonding ritual that made me feel loved.
3. HE HAD A HABIT OF ANSWERING QUESTIONS WITH OFF-TOPIC NONSENSE.
This just made me mad. We’re both writers, and I do love a turn of phrase perfectly balanced between wit and romance, but if I ask, “Where do you feel like eating dinner?” I don’t want to navigate an Edgar Allen Poe quote to get your answer (true story). If anything serious came up, he’d stare in silence at me until I cracked and either yelled or cried.
4. HE DIDN’T TELL ME HE WORKED EVERY OTHER SATURDAY UNTIL WAY TOO LATE.
I was coming from a previous relationship that had felt stifling, so I appreciated my sudden weekend independence. Still, as I got more restless by myself, I wanted to spend more time with him and I only found out why we couldn’t after I started a fight about it and he indignantly pulled his trump card: “I have to work a lot of Saturdays!” Thanks for the timely heads up on that.
5. HE WANTED KIDS.
Again, purely personal preference, but I don’t want children—ever. I can barely keep a small dog from eating his weight in leaves when I take him out to poop, so I have no confidence or will to raise kids. But this boyfriend eventually wanted to become a dad and I staked everything on that “eventually.” I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life, but we never managed to talk about the future.