It was Mother's Day, and my maternal instincts were outed yet again as I watched another episode of Girls. I squirm with recognition as I watch Hannah chase the forever unavailable Adam ... unavailability being the key lure here. I know these girls. I am surrounded by them in real life. I want to save them all.
The least I can do is compile a short list of red flags for dating the very large pool of men that is available to you, ladies. In fact, these flags aren't just red, they're on fire -- they're lightning bolts that I, for one, ignored in my 20s. Take heed:
Red Flag #1: Mommy Addiction
It's a real plague that will last you a lifetime if you sign on. Take it from me. My ex and I would write lovely little notes to his mother as we globe-trotted around the world, from every port, every day. What was wrong with this picture and why didn't I notice how creepy this was? His brothers, two men in their 50s, still had bedrooms in their mother's home -- and faithfully visited each weekend. Yikes. If your man is still living with his mommy in his 30s and his mother is all over his Facebook page, don't walk -- run!
Red Flag #2: You Scare the *@#! Out of Him
If a guy's intimidated by your success, your swagger, your adult woman's sexuality and the appetite that goes with it -- cut him loose. All of the above should be a turn-on, not a triple threat that turns him into a wussie who fears you or, worse, makes you feel weird for going after what you want.
Hold out for a grown-up man who's not afraid of a strong, sexy, take-charge lady. Be a lot of girl, and be unapologetic about it.
Red Flag #3: You're the Rebound Girl
Guys often tell us exactly who they are right from the start. We just have to learn to listen. You're dressed to kill, sitting across from him in some swank café and he's going on and on about his ex. NEXT! You don't need to be somebody's backup plan.
Red Flag #4: He's the Ultimate Peter Pan
You know the type. He's 50 and dresses like he's 20. His hipster knit cap is permanently attached to his skull, and he really needs to yank up his jeans. His apartment is a pigsty and bathroom is downright scary. He's evasive about you, about his availability, and whatever the hell it is you are doing "together." His late-night texts are fun at first and then ... they are so not. He's a project, ladies, and you deserve a real grown-up. Move on.
Red Flag #5: He's Married
Ahhh, the married charmer. It's gonna end badly. He's somebody else's guy! Now, if he looked like Don Draper before Megan reformed him ... I did some of this in my 20s. Men who showed up with tan lines on their wedding ring fingers. DUH! They become obsessions. Why? Cause they're not available. Hot! Until it's not ...
Red Flag #6: He Wears More Jewelry Than You
Does he take longer then you to get ready for a night out and then order vodka cranberries? Enjoy him as your best pal -- but look around for a good slamming elsewhere. Poor Liza did it over and over again, following in mom's footsteps. If you suspect, it is so.
Red Flag #7: He Idolizes You -- as Long as You're Unavailable
He's more involved with the obsession of you then he is with you. There are many ways this scenario can play out. A few:
A. You're married. He's not. Hot hot hot. You become "available." He scrams.
B. He loves the goddess glamour girl in you -- but the "real girl"? "Every man I've ever known has fallen in love with Gilda -- and awakened with me," says Rita Hayworth, Hollywood "It" girl of the 40s, married to (and divorced from) genius ex-hottie Orson Wells. If he is awestruck, make sure it's for the real you.
Red Flag #8: No Sleepovers
Hannah's Williamsburg hipster boy toy (he's sooo not a boyfriend), Adam, exemplifies the self-involved, vain, aloof, soul-killin' anti-intimacy man so perfectly.
There will never be a sleepover or future brunch with this dude. As tantalizing as aloof can be, get over it. You don't want this guy. He's a non-committal creep.
I so related to the wise, stoic sage of a doctor at the end of Episode 2: "You could not pay me enough to be 24 again." Amen! It was fun making all those mistakes -- sometimes. Just do your best to keep away from the mean, the vain, the damaged -- and enjoy your gorgeous youth with somebody kind.
Maryjane Fahey is the co-author of DUMPED, a breakup bible for women to get off their asses and over their exes in record time. Fall 2012. Find, tweet, facebook, whatever the authors ... they're very friendly ...