Written by Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

When it comes to red flags, a lot of focus is placed on the way a date acts towards their partner. But what about the way they treat others? Here, an expert explains why the way someone interacts with other people could be a red flag.

Identifying red flags in a potential partner isn’t always simple. When you’re in the whirlwind of a new relationship, it’s all too easy to let potentially toxic behaviours slide in favour of the excitement of romance. 

But paying attention to someone’s red flags can help you identify whether the relationship you’re forging will be a healthy one. The only problem is knowing where to look. 

Ever since the phrase ‘red flag’ cemented its place in dating terminology, it’s largely revolved around the way a potential partner behaves towards the person they’re dating. But what about the way they behave towards others? 

While the dynamic you share with the person you’re dating is incredibly important – after all, that’s what makes a relationship a relationship – the way they behave towards and around others can tell you a lot about someone’s values and beliefs, and give you insight into how they might deal with situations which arise within your relationship.

“How a potential partner behaves towards others is key,” says Cathy Press, a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor and author of the book When Love Bites: A Young Person’s Guide To Escaping Harmful, Toxic And Hurtful Relationships. “This includes their family, friends and colleagues, as well as waiters, shop assistants, drivers and people they don’t know.”

The way someone addresses those around them isn’t the only thing to think about either, Press explains. In fact, the dynamics they have with the people they’re close to – for example, their mother or best friends – can tell you a lot about the expectations they might have from a relationship.  

How a potential partner treats others (for example, a waiter at a restaurant) can tell you important things about their character.

“It’s certainly a red flag, for example, if their parents or mother are still doing everything for them if they’re perfectly capable,” Press explains. “This is a red flag indicator that they take little responsibility for their own care and may have an expectation that others are responsible for meeting their needs.”

Press also recommends taking note of how the person you’re dating speaks about you to those around them – especially when you’re having a disagreement. Turning to their friends in a time of need is one thing, but are they including others in your argument, or putting you down in front of them? If so, this could be a sign of how they view you, Press says.

“Behaving poorly and trying to minimise it – but then holding others’ poor behaviour against them – is another red flag,” Press adds. “This could show they have no sense of the impact of their own behaviour – a sign they could lack empathy.”

Of course, it’s up to you to decide whether or not a red flag a potential partner is showing is a deal-breaker. If it’s a one-off – or they’re aware of what’s going on – it could be something you work on together (as long as the onus isn’t on you to ‘improve’ or ‘fix’ them).

But if you’re struggling to count the number of red flags your partner is showing – even if the only red flags they’re showing are to do with the way they interact with others – Press recommends reconsidering whether or not the relationship is worth your time.

“If you see lots of red flags in the early stages of a relationship – or at any stage of a relationship – don’t hang on to it. If you don’t want a persistent battle, move on. Ask yourself: ‘Is it worth it?’” 

Images: Getty

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