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10 Tips to Avoid the Dark Side of Valentine's Day

In light of Valentine's Day, dating gurus and authors of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, will be dishing on men, sharing red flag stories and signing copies of their book 5 p.m. Saturday at Vroman's Bookstore.

Some people love it. Others hate it.

But whether you're a fan or not, Valentine's Day is here to stay.

And in light of the Hallmark holiday, dating gurus Natasha Burton, Meagan McCrary and Julie Fishman will be dishing on men, sharing red flag stories and signing copies of their book, The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, 5 p.m. Saturday at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. 

While you're invited for laughs, advice and free wine—the ladies have also passed along these top 10 warning signs to avoid a dating disaster:

1. He’s not really your boyfriend. If the man you're seeing hasn’t “defined the relationship”—otherwise known as “DTR”—it doesn’t matter how many dates you’ve been on or how many times you’ve slept together…you are not his girlfriend. And this is a fact he will be sure to remind you of the second that you start expecting him to treat you like one.

2. He treats you like an object. Even if your relationship is largely sex-based, a man should still be interested in your comfort and pleasure—he should never use your body as if it’s simply there for his disposal. Without some tenderness, sex becomes more of a business transaction than an intimate encounter…in which case, you may as well ask him to leave you a check by the nightstand.

3. He’s only there for you when it’s convenient for him. A guy who won’t commit to dinner until twenty minutes before he’s supposed to pick you up is typically stalling so he can to make sure that he’s not going to miss out on whatever his buddies are doing that night. In addition to making you feel trivial, this guy is anything but dependable. Sure, he’ll be around on sunny days but, as soon as the clouds roll in, he’ll run for cover.

4. He’s a narcissist. While a little self-love is healthy, a man who is too busy gazing lovingly at his own reflection to attend to your needs—or even compliment you once in a while—is not one worth dating. Narcissism is a psychological condition that usually requires therapy to remedy. However, in order for treatment to work, the man must be able to admit that he has a personality flaw. Good luck convincing a narcissist that he’s anything but perfect. No one, including you, will ever be good enough for him or worth his attention because, after all, he’s already found the best lover—himself.

5. He doesn’t have your back. If your guy is constantly pointing out your flaws or correcting you in front of your friends, family, colleagues (or even total strangers), he’s letting you, and the world, know, that he really doesn’t have your back. Not to say that your boyfriend should never disagree with you, but he definitely shouldn’t pick you apart. Especially in public.

6. He’s shady with his phone. The number of late-night texts a guy sends and receives is usually proportional to how many other chicks he’s probably sleeping with. If you man always goes into the other room to talk, he may have another woman on the side. 

7. He accuses you of being unfaithful. We're not precisely sure what psychology lies behind this crackpot move, but loads of women have reported the phenomenon. One girl's boyfriend incessantly checked her phone for incriminating text messages, another's demanded she check in with him every thirty minutes if she wanted to go out with her girlfriends, and more than a few girl's boyfriends would go ballistic if they spied their ladies even talking to another guy.

8. He constantly critiques you. Maybe he'll make backhanded comments about your weight, or have the occasional demand that you change into something "more appropriate"—either way, acts like these show that you man is less interested in you and more concerned with bending, breaking, and shaping you to look like the woman he believes he deserves. Perhaps he'll merely offer a suggestion, but say it with a slightly contemptuous tone, or teach you a new, "more efficient" way of doing something you've been doing every day for ten years (how you made it this far without him there to tell you how to wipe your own butt is a miracle). 

9. He's inconsiderate. It's essential that you pay attention to your man's small gestures—like if he stops at Jack 'n the Box for a milkshake on the way to your house but forgets to ask you if he could bring you a treat. Inconsiderate acts early on in a relationship tend to escalate the more comfortable a man becomes with the situation, and pretty soon you'll be in a one-way partnership headed full speed for resentment.

10. He’s a control freak. Controlling men’s manipulative ways may take on a variety of forms: some guys may berate you into being who they want you to be; some try to isolate you from your family and friends; some present ultimatums to run the relationship. Other men will try to “rescue” you—chipping away at your independence until you’re fully dependent on them. Dating a guy like this puts you in an unhealthy situation, to say the least. A functional relationship consists of respect and support, not one person calling all the shots. Even if he says he’ll change, he probably won’t—cut your losses before you lose your sense of self, sense of worth, and sense of right and wrong.

Check out the ladies' hilarious blog about red flags HERE.

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