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In the universe of post-divorce dating, or any dating for that matter, confused signals can occur — all sorts of misfires and miscommunications.

Take Aurora's case, for example. When her date signed a very early e-mail with an effusive "I adore you!" it gave her pause, and a mild case of indigestion. "I don't know," she wrote to her friends, "Would that be a red flag for you? It seems a little... enthusiastic."

People do tend to get a bit carried away when topics like "Is this guy an insane stalker or just kind of a dork?" come up, and nobody wants to stand by while a friend wanders into a potentially dangerous (or even a run-of-the-mill unpleasant) situation, so there was, of course, a chorus of "No no no!" and, "Drop that guy!" and,"Red flag! Red flag!" along with the more reasoned "He sounds a little too interested, doesn't he?" type of comments.

A few weeks later, though, Aurora was still dating him, so one had to ask. "Oh, it was no big deal," she wrote, "His one great flaw so far is that he just really likes me. Also, I think we have different standards for the word ‘adore.' I pretty much only adore God. He adores streaky bacon (he's English), the TV show "Coupling," and early Depeche Mode."

Good on her, then, for taking a deep breath and giving herself permission to ignore that particular red flag. Maybe we ought to ignore them more often. Of course I'm not talking about the kind of chills-producing "uh-oh" flags that personal security expert Gavin de Becker talks about in his popular book The Gift of Fear, when he tells you (especially the female "you") over and over to follow your instincts, and if you think there's something wrong there probably is.

No, we're talking about the silly things, teensy irritants that are more on the order of an itchy errant clothing tag than a proper "danger! danger!" flag, yet are often enough to make us back out of a potentially enjoyable dating situation. Something about the dude just doesn't match our concept of "perfect for me," like Aurora's guy's choice of the purplish "adore" over a more buttoned-down "I like you very much."

There's a huge difference between the way our friend Marisa's dangerous, unstable ex-husband waved a giant blood-red flag in her face early on ("He gave me a ring after we had been together two months, and said, ‘That'll keep the wolves at bay.' He should have just peed on me," says Marisa.) and the way Lorraine's date showed himself to be a total goofball when they'd only known each other a few weeks:

"When we'd gone out three or four times, he gave me a picture one of his musician-roommates had taken of him, naked and holding up his guitar to camouflage the unmentionables. What the hell? Why is your male roommate taking naked pictures of you? Why did you give this to me? Am I supposed to think this is sexy or something? " Lorraine still can't think of the picture without laughing at, not with her now-husband, but it was obviously all to the best that she decided, at the time, to let it go. And there's Bonnie, who when I asked about "red flags" said, "Oh, Jack couldn't stand his mother, and that was sort of a red flag for me. Then I met her."

Everyone loves a mother-in-law story, so I would have ended this there, but I'm saving Minna's red-flag incident for last, since it's indisputably the best. She was going through a rough divorce when she met the guy in question (so, as it happens, was he) but no matter how she's feeling she's always vivacious and well turned-out, not to mention having the kind of figure that makes normal guys talk like hard-boiled L.A. detectives: "She had more curves than the Pacific Coast Highway and was twice as fast," that kind of thing. That's no excuse, though, for what he said to her the night they met: "I will be honest: I'm warm for your form."

He really said that. And they're getting married anyway.


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  • Comment Link susana168 Saturday, 27 April 2013 10:20 posted by susana168

    Thanks for your post. I really liked.
    I am separated from my ex (we never married) and now I live abroad with my preschool daughter. I met this guy a few months ago (we work in the same building but different offices) and we started dating recently. It seems that he really likes me and he is not only wanting sex with me (although we started sex very fast). We go out for lunch very often and he even met my friends that were visiting me for dinner once. But the super red flag is that he still lives with his ex and kids. He says they are separated since last year that she started a relationship with other man. He has an apartment but never spends time there. He even has his laundry done in the ex house. He is now talking with a lawyer about the divorce process, but has not started anything yet.
    I know this is not going to work for me on the long term, but just wanted to share my story and see if I can find someone with a nice romantic story of meeting a guy in this situation and ending in a happy way.
    I like him a lot, but although I want to trust him, I can't.
    Like Andrea says, sometimes when we date men, we are very worried about little red flags, instead on focusing on the truth that is in front of our eyes.
    Enjoy post divorce dating and wish you all find a great man!! You deserve it!

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 01 August 2012 23:57 posted by Guest

    About redflags: I've dated this guy for over a year now. He's the most loving, nicest, caring guy I've known and I love him to bits. However after a night out drinking I was a bit drunk and I dared to ask him "the question" about how many women he had slept with... he was reluctant first but at the end he did tell me, and I was shocked by his answer. At age 25 he's slept with 50-60 women...His number was much much higher than I ever thought!! He also said he's been mainly single and his longest lasting relationship had been 10 months at age 15!... Now I'm really worried since this is a MASSIVE red flag. Everything was fine before he shared that information, he's always been respectful and loving to me but somehow now that I know this, I feel uneasy and insecure. What are the chances our relationship would be strong and committed? What should I do about the red flag? I love him but I don't wanna be hurt especially after my recent divorce. I also don't wanna miss out on something beautiful and the happiest I've been because of fear and insecurities.

  • Comment Link Alohagal Tuesday, 17 February 2009 08:11 posted by Alohagal

    My recent red-flag: I have been on the online dating scene for a few months, and I have came across a few "Red-Flags" before and during a first date. One gentleman insisted on his profile that he would not introduce his child into his dating, unless something became serious. Thats good, because I feel the exact same way. Well, after numerous emailing and phone conversations we set up our first date. During our lunch conversation he asked me if I would like to meet his daughter? I had to remind him of his profile. And he said, " I just thought with our conversations that it would be ok. Not so much. I have moved on to the next date.
    More recent, I have received an e-mail from a potential date. He is currently separated, as I am to, but, the "Red-Flag" came up. He is very eager pick up and move from his current place of living. To me, that sounds like either rebound or he wants to hurry up and meet anyone that will open up and latch on. Unfortuanatley, he is no longer a potential date. Not to mention that his name is "Bob" (fake name for reason), the same name as my STBX.