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7 Key Things to Pay Attention to in a New Partner

The beginning stages of a relationship can often feel exciting and hopeful. Everything feels fresh and brand new, and you’re looking forward to the future while thinking of all the places this relationship can go. This is the stage when people often put their best foot forward.

While it’s not unusual to want to make a good first impression on the person you’re dating, there are key warning signs that may be missed when you’re in the honeymoon stage. When you’re falling for someone you are more likely to overlook red flags and minimize any concerns that may arise.

For any relationship to thrive, a foundation of mutual respect, trust, empathy, and healthy communication skills must be present. Paying attention to the following things when getting to know someone new can help you learn whether building a relationship foundation with these elements would be possible with this person and make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.

1. How they react to you when stressed. Having healthy tools to cope with stress and being able to communicate appropriately when stressed about how your partner can support you is important.

Some people become more easily stressed than others. Feeling stressed is not the issue you want to observe, but rather, how they react to you when they are feeling stressed. Do they shut down and go silent? Do they stop responding when you attempt to communicate? Do they take their stress out on you?

Since stress is an inevitable part of life, if a person’s response to stress is to take it out on their partner or shut them out, this will eventually erode the connection over time.

2. How they communicate with you and others when they are angry. Observe what happens when the person you’re dating is angry.

Do they become agitated and begin berating you or others? Do they yell or engage in name-calling until they get their way? If you observe this pattern of behavior and it isn’t directed towards you, there is a very good chance it will be in the future.

3. How they respond when they don’t get what they want or you say no. A person’s true intentions can be revealed during the initial stages of dating when you set a boundary or they don’t get what they want from you.

If you say no to something they want you to do, are they receptive and willing to work with you towards a solution or do they become pushy, lash out at you, or attempt to guilt trip you for not doing what they want?

4. If their actions align with their words. When you don’t know someone well, there is a process of trust that needs to be built. Part of that trust is knowing when someone tells you they will do something or how they feel, that their actions will align with their words.

If someone tells you they really like you but rarely reach out or always cancel plans last minute, how much are their actions aligning with what they’re telling you? During the initial stages of dating, it’s helpful to reflect about what story their actions are telling you.

5. How your body reacts in their presence. While first-date jitters are not unusual, notice how you feel after spending a few dates with someone. Do you feel at ease or on edge? Do you feel anxious or calm? If you’re feeling on edge, consider whether you’ve experienced this same feeling before and if so, with whom. Tuning into your body can give you a wealth of information when dating someone new.

6. How they talk about exes or other people. The way in which someone discusses their ex and others can provide you with enlightening information. Do they describe one or more of their exes as “crazy” early on?

Do they often talk poorly of others? While some people may not be fond of their exes or someone who frustrates them, the way in which they discuss these matters is key to pay attention. If there is a consistent pattern of them labeling others and describing everyone else but them as being “wrong”, this likely demonstrates a lack of accountability and self-reflection on their part.

7. Whether they are consistent and reliable. As the relationship progresses, do you feel that their behaviour is consistent or are you frequently on edge because you don’t know when they will respond or initiate plans? Are they hot and cold, expressing affection then quickly withdrawing from you without explanation? In order for you to feel emotionally safe in a relationship, you need to trust that the person you’re with is reliable and you can count on them.

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