Young and old, gay and straight, single and taken… over the past decade my friends and I have used Heartless Bitches International’s must-read list of red flags as our go-to relationship Bible. I would love to say we have learned a lot from it, but, looking back, we pretty much make the same mistakes. At least I do! My only consolation is that now I don’t put up with whatever shit is bothering me for long.
Below is Heartless Bitches International’s list mixed with our own 2 cents. Improved? Ruined? You be the judge. If you have more red flags, feel free to email me or leave a note in the comment box. Two quick things before you read the list: (a) I write “butch” because I date butches and stone butches, but this list of red flags also applies to femmes. If you consistently see one or more of the below behaviors, get your running shoes ready. (b) before someone emails or leaves me a comment shaking their heads and asking who the heck am I with, let me assure you that I’m happily single precisely because I’d rather be single than stuck in a bad relationship with any of the below fucktards.
1. She does things to make you feel financially obligated to her, without your asking. For instance, taking you to expensive Broadway shows/restaurants, buying you a new laptop “just because” or paying off your credit cards/student loans to surprise you. If you break up, she’ll make sure everyone in your circle knows you owe her X amount of money x10 (ie if she willingly spent $2000 on you, she’ll make it sound like you robbed her of $20,000).
2. She isn’t financially independent. It’s somewhat “normal” to live paycheck to paycheck. But if she is not going to school and depends on her parents, her ex or roommate to pay her rent and basic needs, RUN.
3. She constantly says that ALL femmes are high maintenance and/or psycho.
4. She engages and disengages without warning. For example, every time you go out she says she had a great time and a lot of fun, but she barely text you back or takes several days to get back to you. You end up calling or emailing first because you have fun together, but you find yourself in a chase mode with no indication of whether or not she’s willing to be caught. She is good at yo yo-ing your emotions and making you question yourself. This is not courting. She is either playing hard to get as part of a game of control and dysfunctional interaction or seeing someone else and only getting back to you when her Plan A fails.
5. She admits to having sex without dental dams, finger cots and condoms. Quadruple points if she tells you “lesbians don’t need to use protection.”
6. She endangers your life by driving drunk. She excuses her driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol by saying “I’m a pro. I know what I’m doing.”
7. She doesn’t work or go to school.
8. She has no hobbies other than watching football on TV.
9. Her watching football prevents you from making other plans on a regular basis.
10. She takes you on as some sort of “project” and attempts to “improve” you, as if you need to be “fixed” and she is doing you a favor.
11. She says things like “I see in you the femme you can be/become” in combination with her love declarations. This sounds very romantic in the beginning, as if she wants to help you grow, or develop, or God knows what you make of it, but in fact it means: “I see flaws in how you are now and I am going to do something about “fixing” you or I’m going to use them as an excuse when I cheat on you.”
12. Something about your behavior bothers her, but she never tells you directly. She drops subtle hints, or does it in a roundabout fashion, like writing a blog post about it, hoping you’ll read it. When you don’t pick up on the clues, she gets angry.
13. You visit her at her home or apartment and see it has hardly any furnishings or curtains. She didn’t just move in. She’s been there for months of years. When you go on a date together she asks your opinion on curtains and sofas etc. She wants you to be the one who chooses the color, décor and all the knick knacks and you have been dating for two weeks? Watch out! Butches like this are looking for a mothering femme to save and fix them. Run now!
14. She says things like “you make me feel bad about myself” when you try to assert healthy boundaries.
15. She dumped her ex in an incredibly mean way – in front of her friends or after her cat died –, and tells you about it in great detail, with pride in her voice, expecting you to be impressed.
16. She doesn’t like you talking about (or doesn’t even let you talk about) any exes.
17. She complains that your clothes are too tight, too revealing when they are really not.
18. She checks out personal stuff while you are still dating – such as your bills laying around, notes, letters, stuff on your computer or your cell phone.
19. You find spyware software on your computer or cell phone and/or find her trying to get into your email.
20. She expects you to give her your log in information for your email, Facebook, twitter, cell phone, etc.
21. She makes it clear that she doesn’t want you talking about her to anyone else.
22. She changes from day to day or week to week as to whether she wants to be in a relationship or not.
23. She goes outside to be on the phone with her family or friends.
24. She doesn’t like to go to social places like gay bars or butch/femme events in your area where there are a lot of people and possible attention on you from other butches.
25. She accuses you of flirting or being overfriendly with her butch friends. She accuses you of coming onto any random butch.
26. She refers to her ex as “that bitch,” “that cunt” or “that whore.”
27. She gives you gifts and takes them back when you get into a fight.
28. She controls you financially. She doesn’t want you to have your own bank account. If you have a joint account, she doesn’t give you access to it (in person or online) and has you on a monthly allowance.
29. She has tried and/or admits to trying to make you mad for no real reason.
30. She mentions how you should feel “lucky” to be one of the chosen few on her “good” list. “There’s not a lot of people in this world I let into my life.”
31. She always has an “agenda.” Does not sincerely listen to anything that diverts attention from the agenda, and quickly shifts conversation back to her goal(s), without addressing your concerns.
32. The only thing she ever says when you are in need of empathy/support is, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Or, in her true narcissistic fashion, she will mention how she has felt or feels the exact same way bringing the spotlight back to her.
33. She mentions how she has a high IQ and not many people “understand her.”
34. The only time she says anything remotely “sincere” is when she is drunk…which is 7 nights a week.
35. Sex is just another method of her proving her greatness. If you don’t get off, she’ll be upset not because she gives a shit about you, but because she didn’t live up to her fake sexual alter ego (King of the Satin-Sheet Throne, if you will).
36. She uses sex to control you, withholding it to punish you when you do something she doesn’t approve (like going out with your friends leaving her home, wearing clothes that are too revealing, etc).
37. She is a film critic, a history major, and poet. You are almost intimidated by her “artsy” side. She is intelligent, well-versed, and well educated. You think to yourself, “How did I snag such a great butch?” As time goes by, you notice that she writes reviews about movies she hasn’t even seen and she hasn’t written a decent poem in years.
38. She has the Braveheart Syndrome – reading her Facebook wall you would think she is highly involved in international, national and local politics; recycling and volunteering at a coop; and of course she “fosters” dogs (even if you are the one who feeds, walks, and takes care of them). She points out that other femmes (who don’t know her in real life) must surely envy your dating such a brave, socially conscious butch as if in real life you could make her get her ass off the sofa. BARF.
39. When you call her out on her shit, she playfully says she is clueless. When you are genuinely pissed off at her, she will bat her broken puppy dog eyes, and say, “I know you love me, though…,” “you’re so good for me,” “I want to be loved and show love,” “You know I love you…” to make you believe she really does have that soft side you’ve been seeking since the day you met her.
40. She says things like, “If I can’t make it work with you, I don’t think I can make it work with anyone…,” trying to emotionally manipulate you into feeling sorry for her, so you’ll stay around when she is clearly behaving like an ass.
41. She takes no responsibility if the relationship isn’t going “swimmingly.” She blames you. You are not working with the situation. You are not accepting her the way she is. You are passive aggressive, etc.
42. She doesn’t ask you on a date. She demands to go out on a date and, when you refuse repeatedly, she says she won’t take no for an answer and asks what she needs to do to make you change your mind.
43. She asks you out on a date in front of other people even though you have privately told her you don’t want to date her.
44. She tells people you two are dating when (a) you haven’t gone out on your first date yet or (b) she knows damned well that you wouldn’t touch her with a 20 foot pole.
45. Her favorite subject is how oppressed she is by the world, and how all these feminists and liberated femmes who always turn her down have damaged her self-concept and made life so hard for her.
46. She has a long list of exes that have screwed her over. Poor her!
47. She brags about having a long list of femmes that have thrown themselves at her and how she keeps having to turn them down. BARF.
48. Facts change within stories – she tells you one thing and twenty minutes later tells you another.
49. She tells you grandiose stories of past experiences that don’t seem to fit together.
50. Despite her obvious mental angst (or perhaps because of it) she completely rejects the idea of professional help (therapy) as a sham, preferring to confide in you, because, well, you are so much better at understanding her and her troubled life than some overpaid professional “quack.”
TO BE CONTINUED…