This Romantic Gesture Is Actually a Major RED FLAG

One of the biggest frustrations about red flags is that they can be filtered out by our rose-colored glasses, only allowing us to see them clearly in hindsight. This video will give you tools to help you clearly see and navigate around any red flags that may appear on your path.

Have you ever come across this kind of red flag? Tell me in the comments.

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It’s quite fascinating, isn’t it, the red flags in early interactions that we miss, and I was made aware of one in particular that’s a really interesting one, that I think a lot of people miss, by one of my Love Life Club members on a live coaching call I did with them the other day. By the way, for those of you who aren’t a member right now of my Love Life Club, you can join for a 14 day free trial at So I’ll leave that here for anyone who wants to go and check out that membership for themselves and be perhaps on a call with me, where I coach you. This particular person said that she had met a guy right at the beginning of COVID. They had stayed in touch over the course of COVID. They hadn’t seen each other during that time. And then at one point, they were able to see each other in person.

She lived in London, he lived in New York and she flew out to see him in New York. They had an amazing few days together, really got on well. It was really romantic. They did amazing things. Went to beautiful restaurants, had a great time. And then she flew home. Then he invited her to go to Burning Man. For those of you that don’t know . . . I mean, I don’t even really know that much about Burning Man Jameson, despite the fact that we live in LA. I know that it’s in the desert in the middle of nowhere, which is a great place for a date. No, Burning Man, there’s lots of people that go and absolutely love it, and swear by it and go every year. But it’s a place with lots of interesting eccentric outfits. There’s art exhibitions. People build things. There’s probably one or two drugs ingested here and there. Not by everybody, but by some.

One end of the spectrum is you can build structures and be in community, and love with other people in this really interesting creative environment. The other end of the spectrum is orgies. They’ve got everything at Burning Man, but nonetheless, he invited her to Burning Man. And my alarm bell went off immediately because I thought . . . And my alarm bell didn’t go off in the sense that this guy’s a creep, it went off in the sense that I thought, “Hmm, this guy doesn’t sound particularly serious.” But the second detail she gave me is really the part that confirmed it. She said, “One of the things that I feel frustrated by is that, since I’ve come home, we’ve not really talked much. He doesn’t reach out regularly. We don’t have long chats, but he is dead serious about me going to this festival with him.”

And she actually said to him, “I haven’t really heard from you much.” And she had expressed that she felt like they hadn’t talked much since she left. His response to her expressing this, was to book a trip to London. He said, “I’ll come see you.” And so three, four weeks from that point, he booked a ticket and he said, “I’m going to come out there. And I’ve booked this romantic restaurant for us to go to.” And it all seemed really exciting. Wow, what an effort he’s making. He’s coming to London. The point that I made to her was that despite this grand gesture, he hadn’t actually listened at all to what she was saying. What she was saying was, “I don’t feel close to you. We had this amazing time in New York. Since I got home, I don’t feel close. I don’t feel like you are showing any curiosity about my life. I don’t feel like you’re asking me how my day is going. I don’t feel like you’re trying to get to know me better. I don’t feel close to you.” 

Now he didn’t listen or he didn’t care, one of the two, because his response to that was a grand gesture. Let me book a flight to come to London. That might mean that he really likes her and wanted to do something big to show her, but he’s a terrible listener because that’s not what she was asking for. Or, he heard what she had to say, but he went, “I don’t want to do the whole closeness thing and have lots of contact, because that’s not what I’m looking for. But I’ll book the trip to London because that’s another experience.” And what this reeked of to me was a guy who is looking for experiences. Doesn’t make him a bad guy, but it doesn’t make him a guy who’s looking for what she’s looking for.

This is a guy who is treating life like a bit of a playground right now. And he’s like, “Come to Burning Man with me, I’ll come to London and visit you.” And that could just be seen through the context of, well London’s a really cool city, and it’s fun, and he’s attracted to her and he clearly enjoyed her company or he wouldn’t be inviting her on another trip somewhere. So the chances are he’s attracted to her. He really likes her company. He wants more experiences with her because that’s what he’s looking for. But he doesn’t want an actual relationship. He doesn’t want actual intimacy. He doesn’t want actual closeness, not in a way that builds. He wants contained closeness. He wants a contained experience. Let me come to London and book a fancy restaurant and let’s have an amazing time in London.

That’s fine if that’s all she’s looking for, but it wasn’t all she was looking for. So what’s likely to happen is, he comes to London, there’s another really peak experience that they have together. And then the contact disappears again, until Burning Man. This is a very common pattern I see in people’s love lives, especially in the direction of men to women. Oh, you’re fun. You’re attractive. You are enjoyable to spend time with. You’re my vessel of fun for this weekend, or this month, or this experience that I want to do. And it would be fun to do this experience with somebody, so I want to do it with you. But it doesn’t mean that they’re serious about anything more.

Now in a situation where people are honest with each other about that, that can be a wonderfully rewarding thing. It’s not demonizing the idea of two people going away and having an experience together that doesn’t happen within a relationship or lead to a relationship. The problem is when there is an asymmetry between what the two people want. When he is looking at it as an experience, and she is looking at it as a stepping stone to something more. What I pointed out to her is that, right now, you have a choice of calling him and saying, “Hey, between now and London, I’d love for us to speak more, because there feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect between, your coming out to see me. And we’re not even staying in touch frequently and checking in and seeing how each other are. That feels a bit strange to me. So can we do better on the communication between now and then, and actually speak more?” And I would see if that improves.

Now if it doesn’t improve, you could always call off the London trip and say, “Hey, I’m really not feeling comfortable with this. We’re not really talking. We don’t really feel close and yet, you’re coming over and we’re going to spend a whole weekend together. It just doesn’t feel organic to how much we’ve been speaking.” If the communication improves, then she could have him come to London, have a great weekend and then see what happens after that. Or she just cancels the London trip altogether and says, “Hey, let’s do a trip when we feel a little closer, because right now it feels like we’re doing a trip, but we’re not actually speaking. And when I did speak to you, although I appreciate greatly that you’re coming to London. When I spoke to you about the communication, I felt like the part that was most important to me is that, we were actually talking more regularly. And that part hasn’t changed.”

I can’t tell anyone what to do here. I think that if in this situation, anyone could be forgiven for saying, “Well, I’ll roll the dice on it. Let me have this person come to London, see what happens. And then at the end of it, if the communication doesn’t improve, then I definitely am not going to be making a trip where I have to put in the effort. But it would also be fair to say, I’m not going to do this trip or I’m not going to have them come to me, if this communication, if this doesn’t improve, if I don’t feel closer to them.” Now look, you may wonder how to navigate these kinds of things in early dating or in dating in general. I’m a big believer in our love lives, of knowing what our north star is.

Our north star is the things that we truly value. Knowing what’s important to us, which starts with being honest with ourselves. “What am I looking for in my love life right now? Now if I’m just looking for some fun, if I’m just looking to have a good time, if I’m looking for just spontaneity and excitement, if those are my number one values, then that’s one thing.” Or your north star could be, “Finding a real relationship with somebody who is kind, who is consistent with me, who makes me feel the closeness, that’s important to me. Someone with whom it feels like there’s a progression that we are actually building something.”

If that’s your north star, if that’s what you decide is the most important thing, every decision you make has to be in line with what takes you closer to that north star, regardless of how something is making you feel in the short run. In our love lives, following our north star won’t always feel good, because there might be someone right now that’s shiny, that’s exciting. We might want to do that trip. And if we can see it as just a fun thing in isolation and do that, that’s one thing, but we can’t lie to ourselves. If in truth, “I’m going on this trip because . . . Not just because it would be exciting, but because I want more with this person, but I’m looking at this and going, ‘but they’re not trying any other time.’ 

They’ve just booked a trip with me and all of their behavior suggests that they’re not actually trying to progress anything with me. They’re not actually trying to make anything happen. They’re just trying to have this fun experience with me, then this isn’t in line with my north star. In fact, it’s a distraction from my north star because if I get hung up on this person and I spend the next six months wishing I had more with them, but repeatedly confirming that I’m with someone who doesn’t want more with me. And at the end of that six months of being tunnel vision about that person, and not meeting anybody else because I really like them, and I’m always secretly waiting for a text or a phone call from them, or the next time we’re going to see each other. And then at the end of six months, I get heartbroken because I realize it’s not going anywhere.

Or I realize they’re now seeing somebody else or that I’ve realized that they’ve been seeing multiple people this whole time, then it’s going to take me another two months, three months, five months, six months to get over this person. So all of a sudden something that was a fun trip has taken up a year of my life emotionally, and for the first six months physically, in terms of where I’m putting my energy.” So if we say my north star is to find a meaningful relationship, then all of a sudden this innocent, exciting little trip doesn’t seem so innocent and it doesn’t seem so exciting. It seems like it could be potentially quite damaging to what’s really valuable to us.

And one of the things that makes us really unhappy, one of the things can even make us depressed, or very shameful, or create a lot of self-loathing, is when we continuously ignore our north star in favor of the thing that feels good. Because even though in the moment we get addicted to that drug of what feels good, they start to accumulate as self betrayals. They accumulate as ways that we have betrayed ourselves and our ultimate goals. And when we do that, we lose trust in ourselves. And when we lose trust in ourselves, that becomes a really dangerous thing. We start to like ourselves less.

The real irony of self worth in all of that is, that when we begin to like ourselves less, we begin to crave the very validation that the seeking of which is hurting us, and affecting our self worth and leading to betrayal in the first place. We start to further betray ourselves, seeking their validation, and then we like ourselves less. And when we like ourselves less, we put up with even worse treatment and we get stuck in that cycle.

The way to break it is, take a journal. I am writing in a journal all the time, every day, and write down what’s your north star. What’s the thing you actually are going to choose to value? Is it finding a kind and considerate and compassionate person who wants you? Who accepts you? Who’s excited about building something with you? Who shows you that they’re excited about it? Who invests in you? If you know those things, then when someone comes along and they’re frothy and exciting and unpredictable, you’ll see those things for what they are. Things that actually have nothing to do with your north star. They might be alluring. They might be seductive. They might feel good. They might draw you with their shininess, their iridescence, but it’s not going to be able to sway you, from your path. You’re able to say no to that.

Or if you’re not seeing the right things, you’re brave enough to have the conversation that you’re not seeing the right things, because you know that, “This isn’t my north star right now. I’m going to let this person know that this isn’t enough for me,” in the same way that I suggested that woman let him know, “Hey, I need this communication between us to improve between now and London. Otherwise, it’s going to feel really disconnected when you get to London because I’m not going to feel close to you. And frankly, I wouldn’t be having someone come to see me for a weekend like this, if I didn’t feel close to them.” When you know what your north star is, you are brave enough to have standards, that make someone either have to get in line with that north star or prove that they’re not capable of that. In which case you’re able to say no to the fun trip, the fun experience.

If you want to define what your north star is with me, because maybe you’re watching this video and thinking, “This is exactly what I need to do. I have just been following feelings in a way that consistently has me making bad decisions and wasting enormous amounts of my time.” If you want to understand more about this process and you want to do it with me, I am doing this with people on my Virtual Retreat. And we just confirmed the date of it, it is from November the 11th to the 13th, and it is the one and only remaining Retreat of this year. You can do it virtually. So you can be anywhere in the world and do this program from home, but we’re going to be spending three days together in immersive coaching to design your north star and rewire the way you make every decision in your life.

And by the way, what’s really cool right now is because we just released the date, we have a little tradition with our Virtual Retreat, that the first people through the door get an early bird special, meaning the cheapest ticket price for the Virtual Retreat that you’re ever going to get. So it won’t be this cheap any other time of the year leading up to it. And some very special bonuses that you can find out about at So if you’re coming, now is the best time to grab a ticket before those early bird spots are gone. I’ll see you over there. And of course, in the next video.

Fionnuala Mckenna

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