I'm a sucker for a big, ridiculous crush. I adore the heart pumping adrenaline that rushes through my body when I have a fun conversation with the bloke I fancy. It's the kinda high that can leave you feeling all light and goofy all day.

I like getting dressed up and putting in a little more effort when I know I'm going to see them. I even rehearse interesting conversations topics in my head to make sure the brief dalliance is a big success. I know, cringe.

Having a crush is the actual best. Yes I am a 36-year-old woman who still goes ga ga at the sight of some bedroom eyes and a chiselled jaw. Umm … is anyone else disturbingly attracted to Harry Styles despite the fact that he was barely born when I started high school. Oh god, I'm now one 'of those' women.

Jana Hocking is a romantic at heart.
Jana Hocking is a romantic at heart.

So it may come as no surprise that I've been known to ignore a red flag or two when it comes to my dating life. "What's that … every girl who has ever dated him says he's got a wandering eye? Whatever, we can fix all that." Look at how his eyebrow arches when he chats to me. Swoon.

With a decent history in the dating scene, I've had time to reflect and realise there are just some red flags that can't be ignored. And you know what, some are so subtle that they are easy to ignore, but trust me, these flags will come back to bite you in the butt.

Here are just a couple you should look out for during you're jaunt to love town:

1. Talking in third person about something they want to change in you.

This happened to me recently, and it really got under my skin. The bloke wasn't a huge fan of my self-deprecating humour so he would say, "How do we get you to stop talking like that?" Oh, calm down buddy, confidence has never been a shortfall of mine, so if I want to take the mickey out of myself we don't need to dissect it incessantly. Anyone else kinda get controlling vibes when someone speaks in third person? I do!

Talking in third-person about changing you is a big no-no says Jana.
Talking in third-person about changing you is a big no-no says Jana.

2. They rant on about their ex.

It always bothers me when the person I'm dating calls their ex "crazy". I also question whether it was her sanity that was the problem, or was he a gaslighter?

Relationships tend to end because one or both of the people fell out of love. How you narrate what happened afterwards is really up to you, but if they instantly jump to the 'oh she was crazy' narrative, maybe do a little more digging.

If they also happen to bring up their ex on the first date and go right into their backstory, then be warned, this date comes with baggage. If they bad mouth their ex I always assume they were the one that was dumped not the other way around.

3. They subtly criticise you.

Now, here is a red flag I will cop on the chin. I did this to a guy once and felt awful about it instantly.

He had sent me a selfie that I found really cringe. I knew he was trying to be sexy, but to me, it came off as dorky. When he mentioned the photo next time I saw him, I said something that still makes me hang my head in shame. I said something slightly b*tchy like, "Oh yeah I saw that, was that you trying to be George Clooney?' and then I laughed. Yep, I laughed.

The look on his face as soon as I hit him with those words still stings. Upon reflection I realised it was because I was no longer into him, but instead of addressing that uncomfortable truth I acted like a cow.

Sometimes you’re the bad date which is a bad sign too.
Sometimes you’re the bad date which is a bad sign too.

If someone is a little too comfortable pointing out what they don't like about you, they are either a) a control freak or b) taking out their own issues on you. You shouldn't have to put up with that. My former bloke didn't and it taught me a mighty good lesson as well.

Now I'm sure there are a gazillion more red flags out there, but trust me, these three are sure signs that your date isn't quite the one for you (or perhaps anyone really…).

Like a good Girl Scout, go out into that big scary world of dating ready for an adventure, but also be prepared.

Jana Hocking is a podcaster and collector of kind-of-boyfriends | @jana_hocking | Jana (with a J)

Originally published as One word that shows he's a gaslighter


How Queensland businesses can cash in on Olympics

Premium Content How Queensland businesses can cash in on Olympics

Businesses in Qld will have the chance to cash in on a 2032 Olympics

CQ trainer banned after racehorse death

Premium Content CQ trainer banned after racehorse death

The Central Queensland trainer has appealed the integrity commission’s ruling.

PM needs to cough up or we kiss Olympics goodbye

Premium Content PM needs to cough up or we kiss Olympics goodbye

Time is running out to meet an important deadline for Queensland’s Olympic bid...