Whether he’s your boss, a date, a boyfriend, a stranger on the street, a guy hitting on you in a bar, or your partner’s drunk uncle, stay as far away as you can if a man says or does any of these things:
1. When he’s not the one doing it, he doesn’t understand why you’re upset about being catcalled and thinks you really ought to be flattered! After all, he’d be stoked if some woman on the street said he was lookin’ good today.
2. You’ve been dating for more than six months and he still hasn’t introduced you to anyone else in his life (friends, family, etc.). His dog walker or dry cleaner doesn’t count.
3. “You always look so serious.” Or, the granddaddy of all red flag comments: “Smile!!”
4. He tells you that you’re so much smarter than most women he knows.
5. He yells at you for not having a “proper back-up plan” when you take a couple days off from work following your miscarriage.
6. He badmouths his ex.
7. He has kids, but he never, ever mentions them.
8. He explains something to you that you haven’t asked for an explanation on or expressed confusion over.
9. He explains why your political views are “wrong” (as opposed to simply explaining his arguments for his political beliefs).
10. He tells you that he used to fantasize about killing his mother.
11. He has a pet named after himself. (I know someone like this.).
12. When you share something with him that you’ve been working on that you’re really proud of (a piece of art, some writing, your new PR in running), he tells you he thinks you or it “is cute.”
13. He tells you all the time how pretty you are, but he doesn’t express interest or appreciation in any of your other awesome traits.
14. He tells you that you’re a lot funnier than most women he knows.
15. He “doesn’t have anything against [a minority group],” he just doesn’t want to live near/work with/have to see them regularly.
16. He repeatedly tells you you’re too good for him.
17. He assumes you don’t like or understand sports because you’re a woman.
18. He assumes you like to cook, shop, and watch “The Bachelor” because you’re a woman.
19. “Oh, come on, just the tip.”
K October 6, 2014, 2:24 pm
I have to disagree on 6, badmouthing his ex. If there’s a good reason for him to badmouth her (she cheated, stole money from him, was always rude to his family, etc.), I don’t see it as a red flag. If he badmouths her in general for no good reason, then that would be something to watch out for. Or if he badmouths all his exes instead of just the one that really hurt him.
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 2:32 pm
I read “badmouthing an ex” as the situation where a person is just spewing hatred…. I mean, I get that most people don’t like their exes – and some for very good reasons that really piss you off – e.g., cheating, stealing, etc. And I get that he would, naturally, tell you about his ex and tell you what happened … but spewing hatred? If that’s what he’s doing, it would strike me that (1) he’s not really over it or (2) he’s exaggerating or not telling me the whole story and/or something is off or (3) he’s just a really hateful person. None of which would make me feel good.
its_rae October 6, 2014, 2:36 pm
I agree fully with you hear. I understand sharing what happened in the failed relationship, but spewing hatred or continually talking negatively about the ex is a definite red flag. And for me I always assume it’s 1 or 2 of what you mention above. Either is a good signal time to MOA.
Lianne October 6, 2014, 2:42 pm
Like Berger in Sex and the City. He was a lunatic.
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 2:51 pm
Is he the one who broke up with Carrie on a post-it note?
TaraMonster October 6, 2014, 3:36 pm
Yes indeed. +5 points on your Sex and The City trivia test. 🙂
MsMisery October 8, 2014, 1:12 pm
I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me!
Dear Wendy October 6, 2014, 2:39 pm
JenjaRose October 7, 2014, 11:52 am
My ex used to hit me and cheat on me and, when I broke up with him, kidnapped me, set me on fire, and tried to rape me for three hours until I escaped, naked, down the street, broke into someone’s house, and they took me to the police station. It was “he said, she said” and nothing ever came of it. I was not the first nor the last! Bonus: I was 17 when we started dating and he was 28. So, I totally don’t bring my ex up on my own. BUT if someone asks, you bet your sweet bottom I’m gonna SPEW HATRED!
Buuuuut I guess that’s an unusual scenario! Just saying, sometimes you don’t know the whole story and there might be a good reason to hate an ex. So for those of you who think there is “no justification for badmouthing an ex,” well, I disagree. I get to live with the scars for the rest of my life while he runs free. I’m not going to feel bad for calling him “asshole” when someone asks about him.
Just felt like spewing a little today. 😉
Man, I hate that guy.
K October 7, 2014, 2:52 pm
Exactly. If someone is constantly badmouthing an ex, then it’s a red flag. Or saying something like “I want to beat/kill/etc. her”. My boyfriend has on occasion spoken poorly of his ex, who cheated on him multiple times and slept with someone else for money while they were still together – and those are only a couple of the ways she hurt him. I think speaking negatively of someone who deeply hurt you is normal, at least while the wounds are still relatively fresh. But if it’s often, or done while yelling, in a certain tone, etc., then I would see those as red flags.
muchachaenlaventana October 6, 2014, 5:29 pm
Yeah my boyfriend’s ex did some not so nice things to him post break-up and in the course of their cohabitation (repeatedly smoking inside after he asked her not to, disrepecting his things, bringing a guy back to their place shortly after they broke up but before either of them could move out–it was a 1 bedroom studio) etc. and he has never once said a negative word about her, which speaks incredibly highly of his character. I really don’t think there is any justification for badmouthing an ex.
its_rae October 6, 2014, 2:33 pm
#6 – I had an ex never fully understand why calling his ex a bitch around me always made me uncomfortable. You spent 2 years with her, you loved her at some point and now she is a bitch just because you two are not together. That is a big one for me, to be so vulgar about a former lover and to disrespect her in such a derogatory way. Now I know there are those “crazy exs” but when dating someone new the last thing I want to hear is you refer to your ex as a bitch, especially when I don’t even know what happened between you two, and even if I do find out she’s the crazy ex, I just can’t take a man continually talking bad of a woman he had a love interest with previously. Just really irks me.
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 2:34 pm
Re #14, what if you really are a lot funnier than anyone he knows?!
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 2:35 pm
Oh wait, then he’d say “you really are a lot funnier than anyone I know” and not be shocked that a WOMAN can be funny. (Slow morning. Good list. Carry on.)
Dear Wendy October 6, 2014, 2:39 pm
Dear Wendy October 6, 2014, 2:41 pm
Or, he could just say: “You’re “legitimately” funny. (Inside joke here with AP. I told her at the meetup how Drew says that AP is “legitimately funny.”).
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 2:45 pm
I legitimately love Drew.
its_rae October 6, 2014, 2:38 pm
#16 – low self esteem or self sabotaging (I’m guilty of doing that in the past..?? Either way, yep… red flag
Copa October 6, 2014, 6:56 pm
#16 reminded me of what seems to be a recurring theme for me: men who want to prove to me they are smart with stories that actually do nothing but make them seem very insecure/low self-esteem-y. I went out with a guy I met on the train recently and he asked where I went to school. I told him. He followed it up with, “I could’ve gotten into University. I didn’t apply, but I know I could’ve gotten in. Instead I settled for Other University because of X Stupid Reason.” I felt extremely uncomfortable. I don’t care where someone went to school over 10 years ago!!!!
gigi October 6, 2014, 2:45 pm
#7 made me laugh. My 1st husband neglected to mention he even had children until we had been married a month. Unfortunately that was only about the 1399th red flag that I willfully ignored. Then he of course denied that he hadn’t told me & it was all my fault for just not remembering. Of course, how stupid of me!
ktfran October 6, 2014, 3:13 pm
#20. He uses all smiley faces when texting. Or lol. Or both. Yikes!
#21. You met on a dating site. You’ve been texting for a while. He continually asks if you want to meet. You say sure. Then nothing until he gets a hold of you several days later and the cycle starts again.
Is it rude to just stop responding to someone you haven’t met? If I met someone and I’m not interested, I usually tell them so. But on this one, I’m leaning towards just not responding again. Ever. But I feel rude.
RedroverRedrover October 6, 2014, 7:05 pm
No, it’s not rude. There are guys who this is just their thing. They will never meet you, they just want the attention. Just stop responding, he won’t care. He’s probably got another dozen he’s treating the same way. And a girlfriend.
othy October 6, 2014, 3:45 pm
Othello does do #12 when I do awesome things. But it’s generally a term of endearment in our relationship, and is usually accompanied with a “I’m so proud of you, way to go, you’re so cute”, not a disparaging comment. I think we’d make other people barf if they heard how ‘sweet’ our conversations are when we’re alone.
Diablo October 6, 2014, 4:11 pm
Whenever she achieves some personal or career goal, or even makes a good joke, I always tell M that she is “pretty smart [or funny] FOR A GIRL.” So, while I generally see the point of this list, and the need [in a general societal way] for women to respect themselves first and not tolerate BS, frankly, i have a marriage to win here, and there’s no way i’m going to let her get the upper hand. Red Flag, you say? Ladies, if Diablo is not one giant, walking talking red flag, then i am clearly not trying hard enough. She has only herself to blame for marrying me.
Diablo October 6, 2014, 7:50 pm
I AM DISAPPOINTED!!! I go deliberately out of my way to be objectionable (obviously for the noble hidden motive of stirring up debate and discussion on DW), and NOBODY calls me out? Clearly, I really am NOT trying hard enough.
othy October 6, 2014, 8:55 pm
Yeah, well, you throw like a GIRL!
Diablo October 6, 2014, 9:17 pm
I am duly validated.
Portia October 6, 2014, 9:26 pm
Whenever someone says “you X like a girl,” my response is always thank you. Because girls are the best, so it’s really saying that you’re the best of the best, right?
Diablo October 6, 2014, 9:38 pm
Thanks for meeting me at my own level. Fun down here.
Portia October 6, 2014, 9:48 pm
Nookie October 7, 2014, 6:23 am
That’s funny, I say the same thing to my fella.
csp October 6, 2014, 4:34 pm
So with number 1 and 3, I respect the undertones of the comments and feminist ramifications but I don’t know. So with the catcalling, I know I should hate it but it happens so infrequently that I get kind of happy when it happens. Last time it happened I was walking in my suburban neighborhood in jeans and a tshirt. I car of teenage boys drove by and one yelled, “nice tits”. My husband and I were together at the time and both burst out laughing. He just looked at me and said, “congratulations.” The last time it happened was a year earlier. I do miss it. As far as the smile thing goes, I think men’s whole job is to make women happy. So they are always trying to make that happen or worry when it doesn’t happen.
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 4:49 pm
Ok, here are my deep thoughts about the “smile” comment. It bugs me to end. When strangers say it (and it’s always male strangers; I have never had a female stranger say “smile” as I pass by), it pisses me off. I’ll try to articulate why. … It’s because in that brief moment, it makes me feel like my job here on earth, as I walk past this man, is to make life pleasant for him, and oh oh oh he doesn’t want to look at a woman who is not beaming with joy at him so he says “smile.” These men who say that ONLY say it to women; they don’t go up to men with a serious look on their face and say “smile.” Know why? Because men are allowed to have deep thoughts, to be tackling big issues, to be lost in a pensive thought about other things that don’t involve you. But a woman? That’s silly, smile girl, smile for me! … Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was here to make you feel special, here’s a big ole smile for you because no I have nothing else on my mind! ASSHOLE!!
There, those are the emotions I feel the second some strange man says “smile.” It makes me mad, fast.
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 4:53 pm
And now just thinking about it has made me mad. I need a time out. (Why does it get me worked up so much so fast?! It really does. My immediately reaction is SHUT UP YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE”). I really don’t like that a comment can get me so angry. Don’t worry, I don’t say anything to the “smile” guy. I just walk away fast because I don’t want to pick a fight with a stranger. God, I need to relax. BUT I’M JUST PISSED THINKING ABOUT IT. I need an intervention.
Kalu October 7, 2014, 12:24 am
Well if you want to be sassy and not passive and without getting in a fight how about a weird frowny crazy or funny face as a reaction?
ktfran October 6, 2014, 5:01 pm
WAPS. And I think this is what Wendy was getting at with her comment.
Of course your significant other, or friends want you to smile. BUT…. a random stranger, or a dude in a bar walking up to you to say that…. well…. it’s nonsense.
Also, as a female who walks around the city A LOT by herself, I don’t even own a car, I’m very uncomfortable with catcalls or ogling. Now, if a stranger and I are passing one another and make brief eye contact, fine. I like that. But in no way do I like comments or ogling. It’s the most uncomfortable thing in the world. Unless it’s people complimenting my hair. I get a lot of strangers – male and female – doing that. But it’s because I don’t think they see tons of skinny white girls with a stylish pixie. I always tell my hair stylists when it happens. I think she likes it too.
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 5:11 pm
oh man, i had the opposite of a catcall yesterday. i was walking Moose and I pissed off a truck of several men because they had to yield to me in the pedestrian walkway and I was walking slowly because I was walking Moose (he has little legs!) and the truck honked at me and I gave him a “what the fuck” look – because obviously I have the right of way and obviously I can’t drag this sweet pup.. … Well after the honk he notices the dog and know what he yells? He yells: YOUR DOG IS CUTER THAN YOU.
I was both sad (for me) and happy (because Moose *is* pretty damn cute). Not going to lie, I wanted to cry because it was the shitty cherry on top of a shitty day.
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 5:14 pm
And for the record we weren’t even walking that slowly. He just wanted me to sprint across. But really, “your dog is cuter than you” was so mean! But funny. But mean! But kind of true. But not nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Addie Pray October 6, 2014, 5:18 pm
(oh and that was not “yesterday” it was “the other day” – not that it matters; but yesterday I was in NYC so naturally that could not have been a shitty day; for the record, NYC is the best city ever. Ok, back to red flags.)
ktfran October 6, 2014, 5:23 pm
That’s kind of funny. And sad at the same time. People suck. I love giving a hole drivers pointed stares while walking. I’m so, sorry you have to stop at the crosswalk. Pointed stare. Mother effer. I also walk slower when that happens. Maybe I’m the a hole.
I also brace myself with elbows out when a hole pedestrians take up entire sidewalks and refuse to move. No, I’m not going to walk in the soggy grass or the street for your line of four people.
Portia October 6, 2014, 5:37 pm
I tend to stop in front of large groups that are coming at me and taking up the whole sidewalk and wait for them to find a way around me. I only walk in non-sidewalk areas if I’m impatient and trying to get around people walking the same direction as me.
Aurora October 6, 2014, 5:12 pm
This this this. I’ve also gotten the “hey miss you dropped something” (looks around frantically like shit what did I drop? my metrocard? my phone?)… “your smile”. My immediate reaction is also “hey asshole, go fuck yourself”. And the whole catcalling thing in general just makes me insane. If it was ever like a “miss, you look beautiful today”, MAYBE I’d take it as a compliment. But it’s never that, it’s always something gross. Even just the general leering pisses me off — there are construction workers on every damn street I walk down on the way to work, and they line the sidewalk in these groups and just stare at every woman who walks by. Jessica Williams just did a whole great piece on this for The Daily Show.
Portia October 6, 2014, 8:10 pm
Yes, Jessica William’s Daily Show segment is fantastic.
csp October 6, 2014, 5:25 pm
You are absolutely right about the “smile” comment from strangers and the underlying message in it. But I don’t know if it applies within the context of a relationship. If you know a person, friend or SO, and they say “Smile” or “You are always so serious” it means they are concerned. To a guy, they would say, “get the stick out of your ass” or “stop being a dick/ass”.
ktfran October 6, 2014, 5:35 pm
But at the beginning of a relationship, it very well could be a red flag. Like, you don’t know my that well yet. Why do you keep telling me to smile? This is just me being me.
I’m actually a smiley/happy person by nature, so I don’t have this problem. But I do have friends that that are more serious/don’t smile as much and they encounter it a lot. What’s the term (not coined by me)? Resting bitch face?
Dear Wendy October 6, 2014, 5:01 pm
Well, from the perspective of a woman who lives in NYC, where cat-calling is a near-daily experience (not just for me, of course, but for women in general), it is NOT flattering and it is NOT welcome. At best, it makes me feel awkward and at worst, I feel unsafe. If you’re cat-called and don’t respond the way the cat-caller WANTS you to respond, you’re often called names (“You stuck up bitch! You ain’t all that anyway!”). The cat-calls aren’t usually yelled as someone drives by quickly, they are yelled as you approach from down the block and still have a minute or two in the cat-caller’s orbit. It doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day or feeling upset about something — if someone gives you the “compliment” of telling you you have nice tits, you have to respond, because even a non-response is a response (and usually gets a response back, as I said earlier). It’s an awful experience. I dread it every time I walk down the street and see a few men loitering or working or whatever because I know what’s coming. It even happens when I’m walking with jackson, just the two of us. And i hate that he’s seeing that behavior and seeing it as a normal occurrence — seeing it as how men treat women. I really, really hate that.
something random October 6, 2014, 5:13 pm
That sounds terrible. I’m so not cut out for big city life. I’m curious what would happen if you got a rape whistle and started howling away on it like a maniac to drowned out the noise as you passed by? Do you think it would embarrass anyone or do you think it would be dangerous?
ktfran October 6, 2014, 5:19 pm
Speaking of, I should really purchase one of those.
mylaray October 6, 2014, 6:23 pm
There’s some statistic I’ve seen before that says you will be more likely to get help for yelling fire than yelling rape. The sad thing though is I don’t feel safe enough to ever say or do anything when being catcalled where I live. Too many people have guns here and you never know who will escalate things. Which is what they want unfortunately. I also really hate being called “white girl”. It makes me feel so fetishized and I’m sure women of all races get those types of comments.
csp October 6, 2014, 5:33 pm
You are absolutely right and the way you articulated it here is quite powerful. But as someone dealing with aging and fading beauty in the suburbs, I miss being honked at sometimes. Being that object of affection/lust. I know I am very smart and most people use that word or synonyms to describe me. I used to be hot first and hated that I was hot first. Now, a honk once a year is something I pathetically cling to because I don’t think my husband counts when he says I look nice.
Dear Wendy October 6, 2014, 5:52 pm
I totally understand that too, and I can appreciate how attention from a stranger can be flattering. But would you want to date the guy who honked at you driving by or yelled out, “Hey, nice tits!”? Probably not. Which is why it’s a red flag, even if the behavior can give you a little ego boost.
ktfran October 6, 2014, 6:11 pm
Exactly. And to take it a step further, would you want your son yelling that to people?!?
lucia_la October 7, 2014, 5:29 am
#20: he tells you to lose weight (especially if he is also not so in shape)