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  • Writer's pictureDr. Speshal Walker Gautier a.k.a. Dr. Spesh

Sis, Pay attention to the dating signals.

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Dating someone new can be both exciting and anxiety provoking. Depending on your previous experiences you might approach dating with optimism or skepticism. Regardless of which side you fall on the objective is often gathering enough information to decide whether or not to move forward with this person. When you are looking for love, here are some key signals to pay attention to in deciding whether to or not to invest and move forward in a relationship.

Consistency & Reliability– These factors are key in any relationship and kind of go hand in hand. Together they create a sense of security through predictability. In other words, you can rest assured that this person will show up in a consistent way. These behaviors often become evident early on in the dating process. Can you rely on them to call and/or show up when they say they will? Are they consistent with contacting you and their overall effort to get to know you? If the answers are yes, then this is a green light in dating. If not, then you are looking at a red flag.

Communication- Nobody likes to be in the dark about what someone else is thinking, especially someone you’re dating. I’m sure you have heard this a billion times but in relationships, communication truly is key. This is important throughout a relationship. Is this person open and communicative as you try to get to know each other? As things progress, are they willing to discuss their feelings, desires, needs, and expectations within the relationship? This area can be tough due to the unique challenges around Black vulnerability. However, building emotional intimacy and trust means opening up. When someone is guarded and unwilling to communicate this can be barrier to developing a deep emotional connection. Hence, it may be a signal that they are not ready for a serious relationship.

Validation & Responsiveness- Here’s another two that go hand and hand. When communicating in relationships, your partner’s ability to acknowledge your feelings as real and valid is key for feeling emotionally safe. It is equally important that when you share your feelings, they are willing and able to respond to you healthy ways. When you share how you feel or what you need, does this person respond in ways that are validating? Do they make an effort to understand your perspective or are they dismissive? Emotional validation does not mean agreeing on an issue, rather it is acknowledging how you feel in a given moment (e.g. “I see that you are hurt”). When someone shows you early on that they are dismissive rather than responsive when you share your feelings or needs, this is another red flag in dating.

Accountability- Lastly accountability is key. Inevitably there are moments when we mess up in relationships. While it is not always easy, it is essential that people are able to take accountability for their actions and their role within the relationship. Sometimes we unintentionally upset our partners. Sometimes our own baggage contributes to relationship conflict. In each case, being able to take accountability and address it can be a path forward. When you are dating someone pay attention to a their willingness to recognize and take accountability for their stuff. Notice how they talk about their previous relationships. Did every relationship end because the other person had issues? Does it sound like they are never the problem? When things come up between the two of you, are they quick to blame you and never see their role in the conflict? Remember you can’t do anyone else’s work and if they are not willing to look at themselves then this is a red flag for what a relationship with this person might look like.

As you are dating, observe each of these aspects within your interactions. Each of them is important for developing emotional intimacy and security in love. If someone is showing up in the all the ways above, then you are getting a series of green lights to head down a path toward a deeper emotional connection. If the opposite is true, pay attention to the red lights. This person is showing you that may not be ready for a healthy romantic relationship. Be sure to recognize what signals you are receiving as well as the ones you are giving. Take accountability for yourself as well, Sis.

*Dr. Spesh is an Atlanta based Clinical Psychologist, blogger, and diversity consultant.*

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