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Dating Red Flags


Holly Wagner

This week on The Heart of Dating Podcast, Kait sits down with her new friend, Holly Wagner. Holly is a woman of MANY talents. She and her husband Phillip are the Pastors of Oasis Church in Los Angeles. They have two children, Jordan and Paris. They have been married for over 30 years and have a beautiful colorful marriage and are passionate about encouraging couples. In fact wrote a book together a few years called LOVE WORKS which is so unique because it provides both of their perspectives and offers a beautiful picture of how to love each other through your differences because love is work… but it is WORTH THE EFFORT.

Holly herself is such an inspiration as she is passionate about seeing women become who God has designed them to be.  Through the women’s ministry of Oasis, She Rises (GodChicks), she has empowered thousands of women around the world and even hosts an annual conference. Holly has written several other books as well including Find Your Brave, WarriorChicks, and Awakened.

Today we talk about some of the red flags to look out for in relationships and laugh about navigating the differences we find in others.

Do the work in YOUR soul first

Society tries to tell us we are a crazed animal. We have to find a way to reclaim that. There are so many different ways that we can be told we are not good enough. Instead of believing this, we have to find a way to actually like ourselves. Holly says that, “Beginning to like yourself comes to know yourself and that begins in the word of God.

The pressures of culture make it easy for us to compare OR almost utilize someone else to fuel our identity. But the crux of it is, “We can’t get through life using someone else’s identity” as Holly so clearly claims. Unfortunately in many cases we get it all out of order .We crave relationships so much that once we finally get it, it becomes something that defines us. It is where we find our affirmation and our love. We want the relationship so bad that it becomes our everything. Most people come from a brokenness, so we have to do our own work to become a healthy soul.

The best relationships happen when two whole people come together, NOT PERFECT, but whole people. People who have done the work on their own soul. While you are doing your own work, it is KEY to avoid comparison at all possible cost. Holly mentions that it is important to “cheer that person in the other lane trust that God HAS GOT YOU!.

Kait and Holly discuss that above all, first and foremost we have TO LIKE OURSELVES by doing the work on our souls first.

Be an INTERESTING person.

After doing some VERY necessary soul work, it is imperative to figure out what you love to do. “HAVE A LIFE and BE AN INTERESTING PERSON!“, says Holly. This is beyond key. Our only interest should not be in finding another person to marry, but rather we should be so focused on running in our lane and suddenly realize there are other people running alongside you.

The fact of the matter is as Holly says, “BEING single is NOT a disease!”. Just like being a mother of a toddler, it feels like forever, but it is just a season. Because of that, we have to learn to embrace our single seasons as much as possible.

Read. Have hobbies. Do interesting things by yourself. Have a great community around you.


On this journey of figuring out your soul and becoming more and more interesting, you start to realize more about yourself and realize that in fact you DO have needs. Kait and Holly agree that, YES, it is okay to have needs. However, having needs and being NEEDY are two different things.

Holly says that “Needy people suck the life out of you, versus healthy people who can communicate what the need is and here it is.” When in relationship we need to learn to voice our needs and not be afraid to do so. But we also have to be careful not to demand something of the other person.  There is a starkly different heart posture here that will yield various results.

To that point, we cannot expect men  (or women) to read our minds. Most people are just not intuitive like that! It can be easy to have expectations that are in the end unfair. SO bottom line, if you want a hug, it is okay to actually ASK FOR A HUG.


Yes, yes it is. When walking into dating it is important to consider… do they serve ANYWHERE? The deal is this: MARRIAGE IS ABOUT SERVING ONE ANOTHER. Holly makes the claim that “there are days in marriage that are 100% about serving. If you have not seen evidence of serving then it would be hard to think they would actually serve you in any way in marriage.”

Serving can be apparent in the big things, yes, but it is also so important in the SMALL things. Serving does not mean that they are always going on mission trips (though that is great), but rather are they on a daily basis making strides to consciously serve others around them? Heck, taking someone to the LAX in LA during peak traffic is a SERVICE.

RED FLAG: Lack of Personal Growth

In dating it is vital to consider, what does their personal growth journey look like? In general we all should commit to personal growth because there are always things we will need to learn.  You will not marry someone perfect, but it is vital to see if they are committed to growing. As yourself the question,  “Are they learning anything new?”

In this journey for personal growth, mentorship is a KEY component (big surprise


!!). Versus just asking your peers, it is important for us to ask someone who is experienced in the topic you are seeking advice on. Holly gives a great example that when you go to get surgery, you hope that your doctor has actually been to medical school. You aren’t hoping they are giving it their first go on YOU. You want to see that they have put in the work to grow and study and practice on their own.

Reading also plays a big part in this! Holly states very clear that “If someone is not reading a book, I would challenge that a bit.” Reading showcases a clear desire to learn and grow in knowledge that you can turn to wisdom: something that we should all be striving for in and out of relationship

RED FLAG: Emotional Recklessness

A person who is emotionally reckless is someone who has troubles manage their emotions. We all have emotions, but the key is to be leading your emotions,  not be led BY them.  In order to test the emotional recklessness of someone else, Holly challenge us to look at the following:How do they handle their emotions? Do they fly off the handle? Are you walking on eggshells? Are you forever apologizing and not getting anything back from them? How are they handling the hard things?

In order to really know how emotionally reckless the other person might be, you might have to date for a WHILE. You want to go through seasons with someone before you decide you want to spend your entire life with them. Going through seasons allows you to take notice of how you both handle conflict together. At some point, you will most likely into conflict. So the question is, how do you have those kinds of harder conversations in healthy manner and find a way to be understanding so that you can be on the same page at the end? Some key steps to consider in these situations might be the following:

  • Have boundaries about HOW you will be spoken to.
  • Don’t let your emotions be BIGGER than your values.
  • TAKE CLASSES if you are serious about dating, not just engaged.
  • Be honest with your STUFF and have honest conversations.

What about waiting?

To this point, Holly and Kait discuss the importance of waiting a healthy amount of time before getting married.  How long should you wait? Holly recommends about 18 months- 2 years before marriage. This is not the end all be all timeline, but is good to consider. In general, going through seasons with someone can be SUPER imperative to truly seeing how you both handle seasons together.

Holly says very clearly that,“Waiting is not a passive word.” It is pretty aggressive verb. It is trusting that God is doing what he is going to do and there is ACTION to it. Desperation does not ever accomplish anything. Marriage does not end loneliness, there are lonely married people. Marriage is the potential to actually learn grow and do more, but it doesn’t solve the WOUND of your soul.


Holly mentions that it is key to note “you will not find someone who is compatible at ALL things. You just have to be aware of the differences. It is not a deal breaker if all the things do not align.” Truth be told, one of the #1 reasons you see divorce happen is because of irreconcilable differences. This is so sad to see because at the end of the day, we are always going to have differences.  Some key compatabilities to keep watch for are the following:

  • Emotional compatibility
  • Physical compatibility
  • Compatabile energy levels
  • Cultural differences
  • Spiritual compatibility

All in all Holly makes a bold and beautiful statement that was one of the highlights of this Episode. She says “ENJOY YOUR LIFE. SMILE. Joyful people are attractive. Be INTERESTING.”

That is it friends, some key dating red flags to look out for. Holly is just SUCH a fierce woman. To get the book we frequently referenced today, all the links have been provided below!


Find her at Oasis Church

Check out her ministry She Rises

Buy her book (that we reference frequently), Love Works

Buy her most recent book, Find Your Brave

Follow Holly on Instagram HERE.

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