We’ve all heard the saying that “humans cannot thrive well in isolation of the mind, body, and spirit.” It is essential for every human being to engage in personal relationships, which might be casual or long-lasting. But by knowing what are red flags in a relationship, one can protect oneself.
If you are considering someone, you need to assess whether you see a future with them. Your partner might only present their positive sides, but there might be more under the surface. With keen observation, you might notice red flags in dating that can guide you forward.
Debbie L. London, in her book ‘Your Facade is Showing‘, talks about red flags as warning signals that are troubling indicators of problems that are to come in a relationship.
If your partner engages in suspicious behavior, has addictive tendencies, or is a part of illegal or unacceptable activities that haven’t been resolved, you should treat these as early red flags in relationships.
Learn to ask some questions out of the gate before you start developing stronger feelings. They can give you a chance to observe any red flags that might become a problem in the future.
Why you shouldn’t ignore relationship red flags
Compatibility in relationships, of course, is essential, but it’s nowhere near as important as the traits your partner may possess that will never work for you. These are red flags in a relationship with a man or woman that can be deal breakers for many people.
Even with high compatibility, if they hold any of your deal breakers, like someone who drinks too much or smokes, you might consider breaking things off. Some major red flags in a relationship have the power to ruin everything and are actual warning signs.
Ignoring deal breakers is not advisable as it can build resentment or lead to more significant problems in the future. Therefore, trust your instincts above all else as they are trying to lead you to your happiness.
25 red flags you should never ignore
Whether it’s red flags in a relationship or a marriage, you might be falling into a bad relationship or dragging an oppressive one forward if you fail to see them. Below are some major relationship red flags and deal breakers that you can look out for:
1. Poor communication
It is one of the early dating red flags if the other person finds it hard to communicate with you about issues and feelings. Often, whatever is “communicated” is expressed through their isolation or moods, and sometimes even through the “silent treatment.”
Relationship red flags for guys and girls include when someone is dishonest. If they are not honest with themself, don’t expect them to be honest with you. If repeated dishonesty becomes a concern, you have gotten yourself a bonafide liar.
Lying is one of the standard communication red flags. Counsellor David Joseph, in his book ‘Compulsive Lying in Relationships,’ talks about how lying can eventually destroy relationships. It leads to doubt and misunderstandings that are incredibly unhealthy for relationships.
3. Not taking responsibility
A person who does not hold themselves accountable for their actions lacks personal integrity and respect for you. Everyone makes mistakes, but it is a sign of maturity and willingness to make things work when someone accepts blame.
By taking responsibility, people can showcase their remorse and acknowledgment of the wrong that they have done. It should give you hope for things getting better in the future. But denial and blaming others is one of the blaring red flags in a long-term relationship.
If your partner cheats on you with another person, it is an obvious red flag. Betrayal is a sign of disrespect and disregard for your partner. If you’ve been clear about exclusively dating each other, then there is room for infidelity.
You may choose to forgive your partner, but be mindful that they don’t cheat on you again. Keep a careful eye because red flags in a relationship like these often foretell bad things for the future. Studies have observed an increased risk of serial infidelity with infidelity in past relationships.
5. Verbal and physical abuse
Sometimes arguments between couples can get heated, but there is no room for verbal or physical abuse in any relationship. It is a problematic relationship red flag when your partner brings in toxicity by hurling abusive and hurtful words at you.
Even throwing things in your direction can later aggravate into much uglier actions. Research has revealed that verbal abuse itself can be highly aggressive and manipulative.
Sex is part of most relationships. However, there should be mutual consent for all aspects of it. It should be an enjoyable experience for both parties, and nobody should feel uncomfortable or violated in any way. Remember, no always means no.
Sexual abuse is a form of violence, and it is one of the alarming red flags to watch out for in a relationship. Things can get dangerous if you don’t consider ending this after this happens.
Okay, ever wondered why your family and friends seem to dislike the person you love?
It is nothing personal, but they are seeing something with this person that doesn’t feel right. People who love you care about your well-being, so their collective dislike is a vital relationship red flag.
8. Keeping secrets
Relationships are built on trust and respect. Once your partner starts keeping secrets from you, treat it as one of the red flags in a relationship. Either he feels insecure about you, or they do not trust you. So, why give all of yourself to someone that cannot trust and rely on you?
It is lovely when your partner wants you to spend more time with them. But extremes are never good. Anyone who wants you all to themselves might become dangerous for you. Red flags in a relationship like this alert you before things get much worse.
Spending time with your partner should never be at the expense of your freedom and individuality. It is healthy for couples to have separate hobbies and social circles. Any partner who fails to give you space might ultimately make you feel suffocated.
10. Questioning your friends and family
Possessive partners will go as far as hating your friends and making them hate you. They might constantly make comments to get you to question your relationships with your friends or even family members. Treat this as a red flag when dating a man or a woman.
Isolating you from your social network is one of the silent red flags in a relationship. It can profoundly impair your overall well-being, and failing to note such red flags before marriage is a sure-fire way to lose your support system.
11. Dark secretive past
Try to gather a bit of information about your new partner. Ask them questions about their past experiences and dating history. Don’t brush off any of these red flags in relationships when dating.
Past behavior can lay the foundation for the actions of the future. Research suggests that past relationships can affect subsequent relationships as they impact the individual’s behavior and conduct.
12. Alcohol addiction
Most of us like to relax, and alcohol can be a welcome addition to that. However, someone who is using alcohol as an emotional crutch has the potential to lose themselves completely. Addiction is one of the alarming red flags in a relationship.
Alcohol addiction often overtakes people’s lives so that they cannot prioritize anything or anyone else. So, notice the nature of your partner’s alcohol consumption. If they are trying to escape their past and present through it, then you have a problem in your hands.
The dependency of your partner on addictive drugs is a big red flag as it has a high likelihood of destroying your happiness. You may have entered into the relationship before knowing about this disease that they have. But once you get to know about it, you should consider leaving.
The dependency on drugs can make a person lose control and their reason. Often they might be in denial, but you don’t have to do the same. Objectively assess the situation and try to protect yourself from the chaos of a drug-induced partner.
14. Threatening suicide
Things often get heated up when couples argue, but threats of suicide are unacceptable. They often are a manipulative technique meant to control the people around you. It forces you to back off and let them get away with their words and actions.
Manipulation is a dangerous precedent and one of the dangerous red flags in a new relationship. Suicidal thoughts are a serious concern and not a tool to end an argument or fight.
15. Unhappy about your success
Does your partner celebrate your successes? You should ideally want the best for your partner.
But some people are unable to feel happy for their partners because of jealousy and selfishness. They see themselves in competition with their partners; therefore, their partner’s success is demeaning to them.
A partner that tries to control all aspects of your life is most likely to be the cause of your unhappiness soon. A partner that tries to force or manipulate you into doing everything that they want is dangerous.
It is unacceptable to force you to wear what they want, work where they like, and act in ways they approve. These actions may seem caring at first, but they might become suffocating and impact your self-confidence. Controlling relationship red flags can be detrimental to your confidence.
It is a blaring red flag when your partner makes a big deal about accessing your phone and social media password. It implies a lack of trust and respect for your personal space. Try to dissuade this behavioral pattern, or else it has the potential to aggravate further.
18. Checking up on you constantly
Check-up calls and texts that come from a caring place are different from those from an insecure place. To realize the difference between the two, you should assess your emotions post their call/text; caring energy will make you feel special, while insecure actions end up leaving you irritated.
19. Lack of balance
There should be a balance of power in any relationship. The needs of both the people in the relationship should be of equal value. Compromise is essential to all healthy equations, but it’s a red flag if you are the only one making compromises.
A partner who makes decisions about things that impact your life on his own is giving you a relationship red flag. Communication and joint decision-making are crucial to any relationship as they help build a healthier and more balanced relationship.
20. Narcissistic tendencies
A relationship is supposed to meet the needs of both people involved in it. If your partner only thinks about their own emotions and needs, they might be narcissistic by nature. Please treat it as a red flag as it is tough to continue a relationship with someone selfish and self-centered.
Check out this video for signs that you are dating a narcissist:
21. Hung up on their ex
Does your partner constantly mention their ex? Bringing up your ex during random conversations could be a dating red flag as it can indicate lingering feelings. A person who is not entirely over their past will have trouble committing. Watch out for this red flag, as you too could be a rebound.
Research suggests that rebound relationships have their benefits for the person recovering from a breakup. But it is still hard to be with someone who is still dealing with the unresolved feelings from their past.
22. Financial deceit
Money management is a big part of an individual’s life. Relationships should facilitate healthy finances and not hamper them. If your partner hides financial decisions, it is an actual cause of concern. You should ask yourself why they feel the need to hide their finances.
They might be hiding things because they don’t trust you or are doing something shady. It would help if you got to the bottom of it or leave, as this can have significant repercussions on your life. It could also be illegal, which is why it is a part of red flags in a relationship.
23. Justifying their bad behavior
Long-term relationship red flags can also be associated with your reaction to your partner’s behavior. If you find yourself justifying their inexcusable behavior, you need to watch out. Your devotion towards another person should make you ignore your safety and well-being.
24. Feeling insecure in the relationship
You may feel you don’t know where you stand or belong in a relationship. That is, you feel uncertain or anxious about where the relationship is heading. Such insecurities in a relationship are one of the easiest red relationship flags to spot.
When you start feeling insecure and uncertain about a relationship, talk to your partner and ask where the relationship between the two of you is heading. If they cannot give you a convincing answer or reply, please back out of the relationship.
Lastly, assess your happiness while being in the relationship. Every relationship has its problems, but these should not be the reason for your unhappiness. If that is the case, treat it as the most significant relationship red flag.
There is no need to stay in a relationship if it does not bring positivity into your life. Your partner could be great, but they are perfect for you only if they make you feel happy and content. Please don’t sacrifice your happiness as that is more important than any relationship.
What do you do when you see red flags in a relationship?
If your partner’s words or actions feel strange or make you uncomfortable, honor your feelings. You don’t have to talk yourself into or convince yourself to stay in a relationship eating at your inner happiness and mental well-being.
When you notice relationship red flags, you should try to address and assess the situation head-on. Denial and avoidance would only result in more significant problems for your future. And then it might be more difficult to break things off.
If you see these relationship red flags, then you need to find ways to deal with them. Here are some ways that can help you:
Take a minute
It can be hard to see the red flags in a relationship with a woman or man when you are hopeful for a future together with someone. It would be helpful if you took some time to analyze things objectively. Think about what is essential for you before making any decision.
Talk to your partner, explain the red flags you shouldn’t ignore, and see whether they are willing to make a genuine change. If they undermine your observation then maybe you should reassess things.
For more help on ending a toxic relationship, seek out professional help. Also, your friends and family know you like the back of their hands, and seeking their advice and support can help you put pieces of your broken self together and end the unhealthy relationship.
Assess and decide
Once you know the details, try to make an informed decision. It might be hard to walk away from someone you like, but it is better than the pain you might experience in the future. Prioritize your happiness and peace of mind to make a decision that you won’t regret later.
Watching out for red flags in a relationship can be helpful, especially if you plan to settle down with this person. Remember that what you allow to continue will continue. If you can no longer imagine yourself with a person with these traits – then don’t.
Red flags in a relationship are warning signs for a reason, as it is better to avoid future trouble. If you observe any dating red flags listed above, it can act as your guide and help you avoid pain and heartbreak in the future.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.