We all go into relationships with people under the assumption that the person we’re dating is well-adjusted. After all, no one wants to be in a relationship with someone who is so emotionally unstable they’ll explode at any moment.
Though we always like to think we can vet them out well, once in a while, a guy will trick even the most jaded dater. I ought to know — it’s happened to me plenty of times.
Thankfully, sometimes you can pick up on the crazy if you know the subtle warning signs out there. When I look back at the people I once thought were sane, I realized I should have been worried about these stealthy red flags.
1. His relationship with his mother is borderline inappropriate
Does his mom act like a jealous girlfriend around you? Yes, you have a problem. This is a sign that he’s an emotional incest victim, and unless you’re fine with being second banana to Mother Dearest, you’ll dump this Norman Bates wannabe and find a real man.
2. He’s moody
Everyone can get a little moody from time to time, but if he’s vacillating from overjoyed happiness to extreme depression, this isn’t a good sign. It’s a sign that he’s emotionally unstable and that he may have a mood disorder. Guys who are like this need help, not a girlfriend.
3. When it comes to cracking jokes, he’s really thin-skinned
A guy who’s stable can deal with a little teasing at his expense. If he flips out because you joked about his hair or his taste in clothing, you need to back away fast. This is often an indicator of a guy who will get violent later on in the relationship and is a surefire sign that he’s too insecure to be a good partner.
4. He tries to monopolize all your time
This is a sign of clinginess and neediness, which is bad enough on its own. But it’s also a sign that he may have Codependent Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, or a slew of other issues. If he asks to hang out with you every day and gets upset if you don’t, you need to cut him loose.
5. He’s ready to lock it down, ASAP
Though it may be thrilling to see a guy who wants to commit to you right off the bat, there’s something very worrisome about it. If he’s already talking babies by date two, you need to bail. This is often a sign of mental illness or personality disorders in men.
6. He’s an addict
I want to point out that there’s a difference between a drug user and a drug addict. If you can recreationally use drugs once a month, you’re probably not an addict. If you get withdrawals and do it almost daily, you have a problem.
You also can be addicted to non-drug activities, such as sex and gambling. Even if a guy is a functional addict, he’s still an addict and that means that you really shouldn’t date him unless you want serious problems later on.
7. He makes you feel like he’s doing you a big favor just by being around him
This is a major indicator that something is wrong. You shouldn’t ever feel like he’s “settling” just by being around you. If you get this vibe, he may be a sociopath or a narcissist.
8. He doesn’t seem to show emotions at all
While most of these red flags seem to be focused on emotions that are just way out of control, this sign is one that is overlooked because it’s so hard to notice. If he doesn’t seem to register emotions that should be there (such as a blank stare when he sees something horrible happen, or not smiling when a heartwarming thing happens), something is very wrong.
It could be psychopathy, sociopathy, or something else. Whatever it is, you don’t want to find out.
9. There’s a lot of self-hatred in him
Does he seem to be viscerally disgusted by who he is? Well, that’s not a good sign because well-adjusted people don’t have that bad an attitude towards themselves. You can’t be totally self-loathing and also be well-adjusted. It just doesn’t work that way.
10. Nothing is his fault
His exes were all abusive. His family sucks and that’s why he can’t get a job. His life was just not perfect enough. When guys tell you that the reason their lives suck is because of some fatal flaw or everyone around them, it’s often a sign of mental illness.
11. He tries to provoke you
Guys who do this are emotionally unstable and looking for a fight. If you notice him trying to provoke you, you need to bail, FAST. At best, you’re dealing with a jackass. At worst, you’re dealing with an emotional predator. It’s not good, no matter how you look at it.
12. When he tells you about his past, things aren’t adding up
Beware of any guy whose past seems to be missing large swaths of history, as this could be a sign that he’s living a double life or that he’s been locked up.
If things aren’t adding up about his living situation, his past, or his current status, you may be dealing with a compulsive liar, a cheater, or someone who’s been arrested for domestic violence. So, you might want to pass on him.
13. He’s seriously image-focused
Though all guys are shallow to a point, there’s a difference between regular shallow behavior and a guy who needs to look like Adonis with an Aphrodite-looking wife. This is often a sign of narcissism, but in some cases, it could be a sign of an eating disorder or Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
14. He’s really, really, really religious.
Don’t get me wrong, here. A little spirituality is a good thing in many cases, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. A good rule of thumb is to avoid someone who’s way too entrenched in religion or claims that they have two-way conversations with God.
The reason why is because they may actually be delusional or be using the religion as a way to control those they date or befriend. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for your relationship if he’s too busy talking to demons he’s seeing in the house to actually do anything with you.
15. You can’t quite point it out, but something feels “off”
Nine times out of 10, when your instincts are screaming, something really is wrong. This is why so many safety experts tell people to go with their guts. If you think something’s wrong, it’s probably wrong.