It occurred to me that with the lifting of lockdown and our general change in moods many will once again be considering dating, whether using online sites, introductions from friends or seeing colleagues in a new light. And this is great, it makes for a fun time BUT as we all know sometimes things don’t always go to plan. With the help of @TheSirDax and @Born_Obey we were chatting about little things to watch for that hopefully mean you have an awesome time and not become one of those Daily Mail ‘he seemed so nice till he showed me the severed heads of his last girlfriends’ headline! And for the BDSM crowd those headlines could be way way worse if things go wrong. And be aware that for each of these there may be a genuine reason, but if you start to see several you may want to think a little more.
- Trust yourself!!! You know yourself better than anyone, better than your parents, better than your best friends. If you sense a rat or have nagging doubts – do not dismiss them. They may be nothing, they may be a misunderstanding but anyone genuine will be open to clarifying things with you. If they’re not able to discuss it, run away!
- Trust your friends – think to yourself, am I covering up any part of their behaviour? Am I excusing any part of their behaviour? Classic things like ‘ahh but you misunderstand, they meant this and it’s rather sweet’. Friends have one agenda, your happiness and wellbeing so take heed if they seem unduly impressed or raise concerns. Especially if it’s in the early stages when you should still be a giggling fawn checking your phone every 30 seconds and driving the single world batty! Friends are there to soundboard off, they know what you like, what makes you happy, send you links to shoes you can’t afford! Listen to them.
- Isolating you – this is a classic gaslighting technique, asking do you really need your phone as we’re only going on a walk? I wrote about gaslighting before and if you are concerned about anyone regarding this then please seek outside and/or professional help for them. But back to the isolating, saying things like I want this to be our special time with no interruptions. Well that’s all well and good but if you have a babysitter then of course you’ll leave your phone on! The welfare of your six year old is going to be front and centre, well maybe you actually wanted the night off from finding lego in your shoes but you get what I mean. The main thing is, if it rattles you remember that. If it makes you uncomfortable in any way remember that and talk to your friends.
- Seek advice or guidance – I use twitter as you all know and there are amazing support networks on there. If anyone is awkward about you using these networks that is an immediate red flag. Vanilla, kink, BDSM, anyone – relationships are about consent, openness and trust – and you should feel ok asking someone else when unsure of a situation. It might be you don’t understand a terminology, may be you’re not sure of some etiquette but the bottom line is those support networks exist for a reason – to keep us all safe. I’ve used them, they’ve been invaluable to me, you should never feel ashamed of asking. @TheSirDax and @Born_Obey are people and actually quite funny so contact them if anything triggers you.
- Old triggers – many of us have baggage, many of us have histories that quite frankly aren’t always that nice to hear but they made us who we are today. If you feel that someone is using those triggers against you and not supporting you, another red flag. Also, what you choose to reveal about that history should be at your pace. Some stories are hard to hear, you want to know the person is invested in you before you begin trusting them with personal information. Again, back to open, honest, dialogue – it’s ok to say yes that is a problem for me and I will share later. Someone wanting your best interest will respect that.
- Limits – these are set in stone. You would never knowingly feed an allergy sufferer peanuts and if anything would go out of your way to avoid this ever happening due to the harm it could potentially cause. Limits are the same, there is potential for both physical and mental harm and if ignored, they should always be respected. If in time you choose to revisit then fine, but it’s your choice to make not have it made for you. There is a difference between an honest conversation of ‘would you consider ……’ as opposed to ‘I’ll do it once, if you don’t like it we won’t again’. Open, honest dialogue – great; enforcement – big big flag and potentially a criminal act. If someone forces you into something against your will you do need to consider what you’re getting into.
- Money – we all struggle, we all have bills to pay but being asked for money is a bit of an interesting one. Personally, I like to go halves on things, but only when it’s been discussed beforehand. Again, it’s all about the transparency and discussion. When things are suddenly sprung on you it’s a little bit odd and is a potential flag. People genuinely leave bank cards at home, genuinely think they still have £20 on them and forgot they spent it, that’s life but if it happens often it’s a possible flag.
- How they treat others – if you meet via social media, look to see how they interact with others or do they? Do they have a wide group or target specific communities? By that I mean if they only seem to talk to men aged 20-25 and if you’re a lot older it’s a little strange. How do you want them to talk to you? If their conversations with others raise alarm bells then be mindful. It may be they want to project a certain image as it’s a business account so ask for a personal account. People naturally work in patterns, so look for them. Likewise a male that only seems to talk to young women or only liking nudes may be an issue. Don’t be afraid to engage with who they talk to – one guy told me I wasn’t to talk to other men online which made me chatter to men for a solid 3 hours on purpose! That was after one date so you can imagine the stompy footed reaction that got! Also, consider how they talk to people in real life – if they are rude to waiting staff because their meal was 5 minutes late is that the person you want to be with?
- Feeling rushed – life is short yes, seize the moment yes (shoes on offer, definitely!) but equally speed of moving things should be comfortable and fun. We’re back to you should be checking your phone and driving the rest of us mad! If it isn’t fun, something isn’t right so listen to yourself, listen to your friends. If they are really wanting to be with you they will respect that, if they don’t well then they answered your concern.
- Pet names – yes with friends we have many that are not always that polite and never to be used in front of parents, I appear to have gained Bernard and I’m actually cool with that, however my point is they are earned after time, after trust has built up and when you feel comfortable with someone. Date one and hearing My Darling Kitten being gushed in front of someone taking your food order probably isn’t going to sit that well with you. Some people love them, some hate them, it’s incredibly personal so we’re back to open discussion and taking your time to find out what’s comfortable. Certainly Sir has to be earnt, that won’t be achieved quickly!
This list isn’t exhaustive and most people are genuine, caring and honest. However, we all know there are far too many dating horrors that we read about and I’d rather read your happy stories than anything horrid so just listen to your gut and your friends and enjoy the rollercoaster! Oh and if you end up as a wonderful headline what colour hat should I wear please??