You really can pick up on red flags as early as the first phone call. Here’s how…
You’re talking on the phone for the first time, and he says a few things that make you feel uncomfortable. She has a tone of voice that irks you, especially when she’s bashing her ex. You push those red flags aside, because there are things you like about him/her.
“She’s so beautiful, I’ll just ignore the fact that she’s been complaining about her boss for the past five minutes.” “He’s a doctor. He saves people’s lives. I’ll just ignore that comment he made about how his ex is a horrible person who wiped out his bank account.”
Pay close attention to how you feel on that first phone call. So much is revealed. I’m not telling you to be hyper-vigilant and over-react to everything he/she is saying. That type of reactivity is usually due to unresolved issues on your part.
But do tune in to any feeling of discomfort or dis-ease. Those feelings in your gut are telling you that this person is probably wrong for you. And it’s better to know sooner rather than later.
This is a story of a man I recently connected with online, and how the first conversation revealed so much.
Can You Find Red Flags on this First Phone Call?
We both swiped right on a dating app called JCrush (I know, I know, but it’s a step up from my awful experience on Tinder). I liked his warm smile and profile, and he liked my photos. Good start! And then I noticed he was from…Illinois. I live in Connecticut—only 827 miles away, a twelve-hour drive (I looked it up). Well, if the connection is AMAZING, we might be able to make it work. It was a long shot, but we started a conversation to see if we should pursue a relationship.
[My thoughts in parentheses.]
Him: Do you think you could have a long distance relationship, at least initially anyway?
Me: I think if the connection is strong and the desire to stay connected is there, it could work. Face Time is great for long distance…
Him: I like your answer, Sandy. Shall we try to explore that? I love the way you look, and you seem like a really nice person. We hardly know each other admittedly. Tell me more about you and I’ll do the same. Were you ever married? I was married 18 years and divorced about 8 years ago.
[Note: I like that he is not afraid to ask direct questions. I’m looking for someone who’s a good communicator.]
Me: I was married 23 years, divorced for 8. Any kids?
Him: I have two kids ages 20 and 24. My youngest is home here for the summer from college. How about you? 23 years married seems like an eternity, doesn’t it, haha? Are you happier now?
Me: I have 3 kids, ages 28, 25, and 21. The oldest is married. I have a delicious 2-year-old granddaughter. Am I happier now? I feel like I was born again. My life has transformed. Never been happier. You?
Him: Getting out of a bad marriage did make me much happier, yes. Although I do want to be in a loving relationship again. And I was in a few since divorcing, but they just didn’t work out in the long run for a variety of reasons.
[Note: I like that he kept the ‘past relationship’ conversation short and positive. No ex-bashing. Yay!]
Seems like it’s harder to find the right person the older I get, ha ha. Being wiser and older has its advantages and disadvantages in a weird way lol. Have you had any relationships since divorcing? Are your kids living nearby? My son goes to college in Arizona, and my daughter lives in Oregon.
Me: Yes, I’ve also been in a few relationships since my divorce.
[Note: I’m getting tired of typing with two fingers, and I want to know if we have a true connection. Time for a phone call…]
Listen, I’m enjoying getting to know you and would love to take this to the phone or video chat. I’ll share my number if that works for you. Looking forward to hearing your voice…
Him: A phone convo sounds fun. It’d really like that. Video would be nice too at some point. I’m glad you’re enjoying knowing me. The feeling is mutual :-). Yes, please share your number.
That night, we spoke on the phone, and we liked each other’s voices. This may seem inconsequential, but the sound of someone’s voice matters if you’re in a relationship. Imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t stand the sound of your lover’s voice. Buzz kill.
The conversation was pleasant…for the first few minutes.
And then I got a bad feeling in my gut. He started laying on the compliments. He said he REALLY liked me, and he started making travel plans. With me, his ‘future girlfriend‘. Yikes!
Him: “Have you ever been to Hawaii? If you were my girlfriend, I’d want to go there with you. My idea of a perfect vacation is a tropical island. How about you? Do you want to go to Hawaii with me?”
Me: “Um…I’m not really a beach vacation kinda girl. My perfect vacation would be to Barcelona, Machu Picchu, Costa Rica, Greece, or Ireland. Asia, Africa…I want to explore, hike, bike, meet the natives!”
[Note: We’re definitely not vacation-compatible. Not necessarily a deal breaker if the connection is strong.]
He kept telling me how much he liked me and that he wanted to be my boyfriend. He asked if he could call me every day. Because that’s what he likes to do when he’s in a relationship.
At this point, I began gasping for air.
We hadn’t even met yet and he was using the ‘g’ word! He skipped a few steps, like the ones where you’re getting to know each other. And even if we were in a relationship, I value my autonomy. I don’t want to be someone’s everything every minute of every day. That would not work for me.
I want to be in a relationship with a man who values his autonomy, too. We’d have separate fabulous lives, and come together to create a wonderful inter-dependent relationship.
He insisted he was ready to be ‘all in’. Was I ready to be his girlfriend?
Me: “I barely know you. I am a slow and steady kind of woman.”
[He wasn’t getting it. I realized I needed to end the conversation.]
“Hey, nice talking to you. I’ve got to go.”
Him: “You have to go? I could talk on the phone for twelve hours! I did that once. Not on a first phone call, but…”
Twelve hours?? Um, sorry, I really have to go. NOW! I told him I didn’t think the connection was strong enough to pursue a relationship. I wished him the best of luck in finding someone special.
His response? “Oh my, hahah. Ok.”
And this is why I highly recommend that you talk to a potential date as soon as possible. Someone can seem like a great match on email or text, but the first phone call will tell you so much more. Paying attention to those red flags early on will save you time, energy, and future heartache.
Have you ever picked up on red flags in a first phone call? Ignored them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo: Flickr/Gareth Williams