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Relationship Red Flags (51 Signs to Look Out For)

by Sonya Schwartz

There is something to be said about the blissful ignorance at the beginning of a new relationship. The stage when your partner is just this hot person you are attracted to and most of the things you know about them are cute. 

Either because they are careful not to show you their less than pleasant habits or you refuse to be bothered by them. At that point, the relationship seems like a bed of roses.

While you remain eager to learn more about your partner, you fill in the gap in your head from the little you already know. I mean, they're really hot, and you want this to work. Unfortunately, wanting new relationships to work so bad is how you gloss over what this person does that should ordinarily be warning signs. Those things are called red flags.

If you're lucky, your partner's red flag starts shining bright early on in the relationship, before you invest too much or get overly attached. For some people, they don't notice until the thick fog of early romance begins to clear.

Whatever stage you are in your relationship, you can save yourself a great deal of heartache just by keeping your eyes peeled and addressing the following signs ASAP.

Contents

51 Relationship Red Flags

1. They try to alienate you and your loved ones

When you start dating someone, and they make it their mission to drive a wedge between you and your existing relationships, you know they have issues. And I'm not talking about them finding your friendship with an ex intimidating. 

Some people get jealous when their partner spends time with friends and family, so they try to do something about it before the relationship ruins your life. The first moments in a relationship, you may not notice this, but once it's pointed out more than once, nip it in the bud.

2. They hate your friends and family

Speaking of loved ones, your partner shouldn't hate people you care about unless there is a bitter history you told them about. Say one of your friends cheated with your ex or your parents abused you. 

But outside of justifiable instances where they may be having a hard time forgiving them, someone who loves you should at least pretend to like those who mean something to you. If your partner thinks they can get away with showing animosity toward your loved ones, that person has a problem.

3. They don't introduce you to their close friends

I understand that no relationship comes with a rigid timeline, but if, months into dating, you haven't met even one of your man's so-called close circle, it's probably on purpose. Unless you both agreed that what you have isn't that serious, you should be worried.

4. Their friends make you uncomfortable

On the other hand, the kind of friends they keep and their relationship with them can also bear a red flag. If it seems like all those closest to your partner ever do is influence him negatively, there's a good chance he's just as bad. In fact, examine his other relationships to gauge his character.

5. They treat their parents poorly

Men often have a special bond with their mum, so it not weird for a potential female partner to judge guys by how they treat her. The same goes for a typical father-daughter relationship and other variants. If the person you're dating walks all over or acts rudely towards their parent, that is definitely not something to ignore. It is nothing short of a major red flag.

6. There is no love lost between your partner and your loved ones

It is possible that the problem might be on your loved one's part. However, if they've always been supportive of your relationships but not quite so much with this person, you might want to double-check to see if feelings haven't made you colorblind. 

7. They insist on no labels after months into the relationship

Ah, a glaring yet easy-to-miss red flag. There is no harm in starting out on a "let’s just see how it goes” basis, it becomes an issue when you two are no longer on the same page about it. If your so-called S.O. avoids the “what are we” conversation or keeps making up excuses to keep things as they are, that person may not be serious. 

8. They are never wrong

“He’s so good at arguing, you can never win in his court” gets old quickly once the rose-tinted glasses come off. When your S.O. finds it hard to admit when they are wrong, they refuse to apologize. I doubt you want the possible reasons behind that for yourself. If someone else is always the problem, it’s time to take your leave.

9. Your partner talks about their ex all the time

If your partner can’t get through a conversation without finding a way to bring their ex into it, it’s a sign they are not entirely over that relationship. The truth of the matter is that no one wants to sit through that. They may not necessarily want to get back together with the ex, but I wouldn’t start something new with them until they resolve those feelings.

10. All their exes are ‘terrible people’

Though this may come wrapped in layers of compliment, your partner praising you at their exes’ expense is often a major red flag. Sure, there’s bound to be some resentment since not all relationships end amicably. 

Nonetheless, if they only have negative things to say about people they dated and blame their exes for everything that went wrong, more often than not, they are the problem.

11. They refuse to tell you how their past relationships ended

They refuse to tell you how their past relationships ended

On the flip side, there are those who conveniently leave out their dating history while they get to know a potential bae. If your partner is that kind of person and has continued to maintain this stance even as things begin to get serious between you, there’s a good chance they’re hiding something.

12. Their previous relationships overlap, and yours started the same way

Did he leave his wife or girlfriend for you? What he said about you being his soul mate and how he regrets meeting his ex before you may be true. Or, it could be his M.O. If it turns out cheating is his way of getting out of a relationship, it’s most likely a matter of time before your turn comes.

13. Your sexual needs are as different as chalk and cheese

A lot of sexual issues can be fixed if both parties are committed to it. Don’t say yes to conflicting sex drives, or size that doesn’t work for you unless they are willing to work with you because it only gets worse otherwise. Relationships built on incompatibility hardly go anywhere.

14. They insist on idealizing you

A little hype never hurt anyone but watch out for when it starts to turn into something else. Being put on a pedestal might feel nice at first, but only until you realize the immense pressure it puts on you to be perfect. Letting your partner get used to expecting perfection from you always only sets you both up for disappointment.

15. They gaslight you

Subtle as it can be, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse and a huge red flag in a relationship. Anyone who manipulates you till you start questioning your reality and even sanity is obviously not right for you.

16. Your partner lies even when unnecessary

Not that ‘necessary’ lies are acceptable, but some are so ridiculous they can’t help but drive you crazy. If your S.O. is so terrible that he lies about little things where the truth wouldn’t be a big deal, imagine what else they might be capable of.

You may also be interested in: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out If He's Cheating On You

17. They are looking for someone to ‘complete’ them

I know people try to paint this in a romantic light and everything, but please, you don’t always have to assume a builder's role in a relationship. Healthy partnerships should be about enjoying what you both bring as extras, not codependence.

18. Your partner becomes a totally different person during arguments

If your man is ever so gentle, sweet, and caring, but when annoyed, he becomes a giant green monster that looks nothing like him. Run! “He’s just angry, it’ll pass.” Ok, except that it usually doesn’t. If he refuses to work on it, it’s only going to get worse as your relationship progresses.

19. They verbally abuse you when angry

Another major flag to look out for is how your S.O. acts when they are mad. Inhibitions can run low when emotions like anger run high, but that doesn’t excuse name-calling, threats, and other forms of verbal abuse.

20. They refuse to communicate

Speaking of verbal abuse, withholding information, and refusing to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner is also some form of it. How are you supposed to get anywhere as a couple if one person always clams up when you should be hashing things out?

21. They are controlling

Trying to control what goes on in your life is not love, it’s a red flag. It’s different if you willingly give your partner that kind of power over you. Outside of that, needing their permission to hang out with friends, wear your hair a certain way or do anything really doesn’t exactly scream healthy.

22. Your partner tries to embed him or herself into every aspect of your life

There’s a place for your relationship, and it shouldn’t always merge with the other stuff. Do you no longer have me-time? Do you and your S.O. work together? Have ALL your friends become theirs too? If you can’t look at any area of your life without seeing your man, you should probably do something about it.

23. They don’t trust you

The above point can easily be due to a lack of trust in your S.O.’s part. That or they are obsessed with you. Either way, a relationship based on that kind of foundation is very likely to be unhealthy if something doesn’t change soon.

24. They lack empathy

If they do not have any kind of mental illness, but you’ve noticed a pattern where your sadness or moodiness doesn’t seem to bother them, it’s a red flag. They either don’t love you or are just that narcissistic. The same goes for how they treat others.

25. They put you down all the time

They put you down all the time

People who feel better about themselves when they put others down are sick abusers. If his definition of playing is always to make you feel stupid, counter, or discount you when you share your feelings, etc., it’s a giant warning sign reading STOP!

26. They insist on keeping the relationship private against their norm

Some people genuinely hate to put their relationship out in the open, and that’s okay. However, it’s worrisome when you’re with someone who has no issue posting their love life on social media, and they insist on hiding the fact that you’re even together.  

27. Everything in the relationship revolves around one of you

Cliché as it may sound, a relationship should indeed be a two-way street. Your interactions shouldn’t always revolve around one person more than the other. If you or your S.O. gets all the attention while the other just gives and gives, something isn’t right.

28. They have all the power in the relationship

In the same vein, if you two are basically master and servant (outside consensual sexual kinks) with someone holding all the control, it’s dangerous. It may seem hot right now, but letting it go on without a proper discussion does not a lasting relationship make.

 29. They are extremely insecure

Personally, I appreciate catching that occasional tinge of jealousy in my guy’s eye when he sees potential competition around me. Particularly when we’re just starting a new relationship. However, it becomes an ick factor if he succumbs to his insecurities every time, and I constantly have to reassure him.

30. Your partner doesn’t take kindly to criticism

Are things only rosy with your S.O. when you agree with them but turn sour whenever you dare criticize their action? This may be due to low self-esteem, big ego, or just lack of emotional intelligence. Either way, it doesn’t leave much room for improvement.

31. They hold you to a double standard

It’s also worth looking into if your S.O. employs double standards as it suits them. For instance, they want you to “act like a lady” with all of its restrictiveness while they live their life free as a bird.

32. They are never proactive when it comes to you

Do they wait for you to make plans so they can take their pick and discard the rest? From planning dates to initiating conversation and even sex, if you don’t make a move, nothing happens? Every time? If nothing else, this shows what you have is more important to you than it is to them.

33. They always make you play second fiddle to their hobbies and friends

When you love someone, you truly make time for them. It’s a red flag if your boyfriend doesn’t respect you enough to separate game night with his buddies from spending quality time with you.

34. They never bend

It is unreasonable to expect to have your way all the time in a relationship, but just as wrong to be the only person making sacrifices. If they always stand their ground instead of bending even a little to reach a compromise for your partnership’s benefit, it’s a neon sign.

35. You are the beginning and the end of their social life

As someone who once dated somebody like this, believe me, I know how cool it feels to be “the only one who gets me.” Unfortunately, it can get overwhelming pretty fast when you have to fill in the role of girlfriend/friend/fun-bringer, and every other thing a healthy social life should do.

You may also be interested in: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out If He's Cheating On You

36. They don’t seem keen on taking responsibility for their life

Is having your life altogether at a certain age a prerequisite to dating? Not necessarily. But unless you’re comfortable fooling around with each other with no plan whatsoever for the future, a lack of drive or a sense of purpose should be a red flag.

37. They don’t consult you before making important decisions

A huge part of the team playing mindset that healthy partnerships thrive on is about partners carrying each other along on the big and small stuff. Bringing your partner’s attention to this, if they don’t naturally do it, shouldn’t be a sore point when a couple operates on this level.

38. Their personality is fluid

While being able to charm your way into anything has its appeal, you should be wary of dating a social chameleon. With people like this, it’s hard to tell the personality of who you are with since it conveniently changes as the environment requires.

39. They are not open-minded

This may not be a popular opinion but being narrow-minded is one of my biggest turnoffs. How can you be so rigid in your ways that considering new ideas is like an abomination to you? If this is a problem for you too, flag it.

40. Lack of respect for boundaries

Even people who have been married for decades can attest to how important it is for couples to respect each other’s personal space. If you’ve noticed this guy you like continually violates your boundaries, whether physically or otherwise, flag it and call him out on it asap.

41. They guilt-trip you with past mistakes

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone who holds my past over my head. It is even more cause for concern because most times, people like that do it to draw attention away from themselves whenever they do something wrong.

42. They keep secrets from you

They keep secrets from you

We all have a right to privacy that dating or even getting married shouldn’t get in the way of. Understandable. But there’s a certain degree of openness required to fuel emotional intimacy, which you’ll be missing out on if they never confide in you about anything – big or small.

43. They have mental health issues and refuse to get professional help

This is one of those red flags that are so delicate they put you in a difficult position. You’re not a therapist, so the best you can do if you love them is to gently nudge them towards help. And if they refuse, remember your obligation is to you first. 

44. They use mental health as an excuse to be cruel

Not to sound insensitive to those who genuinely can’t help it, but some bad eggs use mental illness as an excuse to put their partners through hell on purpose. If they’ve fallen into a pattern of cruelty and justify it with their condition instead of trying to do better, you can also make a choice of your own. 

45. You find yourself justifying their actions against your better judgment

It is even worse if you’re the one doing the justifying. Ask me for a brightly colored dating flag, and I’ll show you that.

46. You have different opinions on what cheating means

Maybe he thinks it only counts as cheating if he has sex with someone else but has like two or three active emotional affairs ongoing. Or perhaps that’s you, and his own definition of staying faithful is keeping it purely physical with other girls. Do you see the problem?

47. They act sneaky with their phone

Different couples have their views on password and privacy generally around gadgets. But if your partner makes you feel like you committed treason when you mistakenly go near their phone, that can’t be a good sign.

48. They act grossly entitled

Between the early days of dating and the slow transition to a long-term partnership, it’s easy for the appreciation to lessen while entitlement rises. If you’re lucky enough to catch it early, try to address it right away instead of overlooking it.

49. Your gut tells you something isn’t right

The thing about these warning signs is that despite the bright color we’ve designated them, they aren’t always conspicuous. Nevertheless, our intuition is usually the first to alert us when something is likely to end in tears. We should all do a better job of listening.

50. They emotionally or psychologically abuse you

The verbal abuse I mentioned earlier is only one of the multiple ways emotional and mental abuse occurs. Like many points on this list, the signs may be hard to see while you’re in the middle of it. If a lot of these define your relationship, consider it the reddest of flags and get out!

51. They physically abuse you

Not to rank types of abuse or anything (they are all horrible), but let the first time a partner raises their hand against you be the last they get to call you that. Consider it just as bad if they ever physically abused an ex, their kids, or are generally prone to violence.

FAQs

What are some red flags in relationships?

Red flags are anything that expresses a lack of integrity or respect for an S.O. in a relationship. They vary from couple to couple and can be overt or subtle. Habits that fall under the category may include any form of abuse, irresponsibility, lack of communication, trust issues, and more.

What do you do when you see red flags in a relationship?

The best thing to do when you notice red flags is to call your S.O.’s attention to it. Try to be gentle about it, so they don’t feel attacked. Set clear boundaries on what you can and can’t take, then decide whether or not to give them a second chance. 

What are the signs of a dying relationship?

Your relationship is sinking fast if you no longer feel connected, care enough to resolve conflicts, or even talk to one another. Emotional and sexual intimacy will be zero, and you’ll feel like every moment you spend with them is a waste.

What are the 5 signs of a healthy relationship?

Couples who have healthy partnerships trust each other and communicate effectively both verbally and otherwise. They also appreciate their S.O.s, do not keep score, and, more importantly, enjoy spending time with one another. Fighting makes what they have stronger, rather than tear them apart.

What are the signs of a toxic man?

A toxic man projects his negative traits on you and treats you based on them. He is insecure, controlling, possessive, and jealous as hell. He may try to turn you against those who love you, so he becomes the only one you turn to for comfort. A toxic man is never wrong and would rather play the victim than take responsibility.

The Bottom Line

You may not be particularly happy with what you found here, but I hope you put the information to good use nonetheless. Not all red flags have to be deal-breakers, but they also shouldn’t be ignored. Try working with your partner when you notice something unsettling and if that doesn’t work, know when to say sayonara

Speaking of goodbyes, kindly drop a comment and share the article before you leave here. Thanks.

You may also be interested in: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out If He's Cheating On You

Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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