Forget Red Flags, Orange Flags Are What You Should Be Watching Out For

You know those iffy dating behaviors that aren’t quite red flags but also just don’t seem to sit right with you? Those, my friend, are orange flags and noticing them in a potential partner is a great way to pick up on things that could become a major problem in the future. Every relationship dynamic is different, but here are some things you may want to keep an eye on.

  1. They recently embarked on a “fresh start.” I’m not saying it’s definitely a sign of a larger problem, but if you’re dating someone who recently packed up and moved across the country, it’s normal to wonder whether there may be underlying issues. If they moved for college or a job, that’s one thing but if they moved for a “change of scenery” or “to get a fresh start,” it’s reasonable to wonder whether they have some commitment issues. Or worse, they could be escaping some sort of past drama that may come back to bite you in the future.
  2. They don’t have appropriate boundaries when it comes to PDA. I like hand-holding and the occasional public smooch as much as the next person, but when it comes to mega PDA, count me out. I respect my body and I expect the person I’m dating to respect it too. Trying to make out with me or grope my butt in the middle of the grocery store isn’t a great way to show me that you’re going to treat me well. Shape up and show me that you respect me or be prepared to GTFO.
  3. It’s been a few dates and they haven’t invited you out with their friends. Don’t get me wrong, I know friend time is important and we all have busy schedules, but if you’ve already had several good dates and they haven’t invited you over to meet their friends, that could be a sign that they want to keep you pushed to the back burner. People don’t usually introduce a date to their buddies unless they see relationship potential. If they put off that step, it could mean they’re just not that into you.
  4. They’re dismissive of waitstaff and other service workers. Even if they’re not flat-out rude (which would be a MAJOR red flag), it’s an orange flag if someone seems dismissive of servers or cashiers. The way a person treats people in service positions says a huge amount about their character. If they’re not willing to make eye contact or say more than a couple of words to your server, it may be reflective of the way they treat people they’re not trying to impress.
  5. You’re not sure you’ve ever seen them without a drink in front of them. It’s totally normal to enjoy a mixed drink or glass of wine with your date. It calms nerves, and honestly, I always feel like I can tell something about a person by their drink order (don’t ask me what). However, if it seems like they’re always throwing back a drink or a shot while you’re together, it may be something to keep an eye on. You don’t really know a person if you’ve only hung out when one or both of you are drunk.
  6. They can never seem to live in the moment. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, it’s super important to be able to enjoy the moment without worrying about the future. If the person you’re dating always seems worried about what happens next, it could bring unnecessary stress into a potential relationship. I’m not saying they need to go full-on YOLO about it, but if they don’t know how to be happy in the present, then their future maybe shouldn’t include you.
  7. Your pet doesn’t like them. If you bring home a new date and your normally friendly cat or dog instantly seems to dislike them, you may want to file that away for later. While it’s totally possible that your pet is just jealous of their favorite human’s attention, they may also be on to something you don’t know yet. Animals act on instinct, and if their instinct tells them that a person isn’t to be trusted, it’s a definite orange flag.
  8. They seem to know about everything you’ve done recently on social media. Look, it’s totally normal to check out a prospective date’s Facebook page; in fact, it’s an important pre-date safety step. Still, if you’ve already gone on a few dates and they seem to know about your every comment, like, and retweet, that’s an orange flag. They may just be attentive or super active on social media, but if they make it their business to know everything you’re up to, it could lead to control issues down the road.
  9. They complain a lot. Does your date always notice something amiss out at dinner or does there always seem to be something wrong at work? Watch out—you may be dealing with some sky-high expectations. It’s no fun to date someone who finds fault in everything, and it can be downright damaging over time if their criticisms are directed at you.
  10. Their jokes are sometimes kinda mean. Funny people are the best—nothing does it for me like a person who can make me laugh. But if their humor is offensive, belittling, or just mean, it may be a sign of less desirable characteristics underneath. Good-natured teasing is one thing, but if they’re constantly validating nasty remarks by saying they’re just kidding? Probably not okay. Don’t let anyone diminish your worth, even if it’s followed by a “haha.”
Whitney is a freelance writer from New England. She's a professional content creator, lifestyle blogger, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter if you're not turned off by snark and political takes.