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37 Social Media Red Flags in Relationships, How to Notice and Address Them

January 13, 2023

Whether you’re in a serious long-term relationship or you’ve just started dating, there can be many major red flags or deal breakers that you can notice from your partner’s social media activity. 

Table of Contents

It’s important to acknowledge that although social media habits can say a lot about your relationship, they should in no way define your relationship. What I mean to say is that everybody is different, and we shouldn’t rely on social media to tell us whether we’re in a healthy relationship or not. 

With that being said, if you’re suspicious of your partner’s social media activity and feel as though you might be in a toxic relationship, then you can definitely find signs of relationship trouble on social media. 

37 Red Flags on Social Media You Should Pay Attention to

1. When a guy doesn’t add you on social media

A definite red flag in a new relationship is when a guy doesn’t add you on social media. Of course, if they don’t have social media then that’s absolutely fine, but if they do and purposely won’t accept your friend request, then this is kind of a big deal. 

If you’ve just started dating and feel as though they’re already keeping secrets from you, then it doesn’t set a good tone for your future together.

2. They spend too much time on their socials 

they spend too much time on their socials

It’s 2023… it’s insane how much time people spend on social media, and this “red flag” will entirely depend on your outlook on how much time is too much.

So, if you feel like the amount of time they’re spending on social media is getting in the way of the development of your relationship, or that they’re spending all their time with you on their phone, then this could definitely be a red flag. 

3. They post their entire lives on social media 

If they’re constantly posting and telling the whole world every step of their day, then this can definitely be red flag behavior. Unless, of course, it’s part of their job as is the case with lots of lifestyle influencers.

4. They have no social media presence

Opposite to over posting, it can be seen as a yellow flag if they have no social media presence whatsoever. I don’t mean when they have no accounts, because sometimes people prefer to stay away from social media.

I mean if they have a social media account but there’s almost nothing on their profile, this can be a little suspicious. It’s also important to note that if you haven’t met this person yet, and there’s next to no information on their social media accounts, then be super careful and don’t agree to meet up with this person alone. 

5. They have secret accounts

If you discover that they have a secret account that you’ve had no previous knowledge of, this is a major warning sign. A private account means that they’re probably purposefully keeping something from you.

6. If you feel like they’re hiding something from you

Specific advice is required for this one, because I hate to admit it, but your gut instinct isn’t always right, this is something that took me years to understand and accept.

However, if you feel as though your partner is partaking insuspicious activities on social media, then this could be a red flag.

If you feel as though your partner is hiding something, take the time to decide if you trust your gut instinct, and think carefully about what grounds your concerns are based on. If you’re within reason to feel suspicious then it’s best to act, though not impulsively

7. They give off a negative energy on their social media 

If you feel like their social media gives off a negative vibe, then this could be a red flag for a potential bad relationship in the future. Sometimes, how someone acts within the virtual world speaks a lot of what is hidden in reality.

8. They’re controversial on social media

We’ve all seen how Kanye West has used and abused his social media platforms. Posting or sharing controversial content can be signs of a toxic relationship in the making.

9. They fight with strangers online

Fighting with strangers on social media platforms is usually red flag behavior. Of course, it depends entirely on the basis of the argument, but if they’re simply arguing with a stranger about whether a dress is blue or gold, then consider that they might easily get into a fight with you over disagreements.

10. If they attention-seek or lie online 

if they attention-seek or lie online

If you see them posting frequent statuses trying to get attention based on dramatized events or even falsehoods, think about what they are going to be like in real life. 

It’s always humiliating catching someone out in a lie, and this is a prime example of toxic behavior in the making.

11. They reveal more on social media than they do to you

Social media and relationships can be problematic when mixed as people often don’t show who they truly are on social media. They can also be problematic in a sense that some people find it easier to show the real them on their social media profiles, meaning that they can be reserved with you in person. 

This isn’t so much a red flag, as sometimes it can take a little time for somebody to open up, however, if you delve further into your relationship and still feel as though you learn more about your partner through their social media then this is a problem.

12. They ask you not to have their friends and family on social media 

It’s one thing to be embarrassed about what your aunt comments on your social media, but asking your partner to decline friend requests from your friends and family is a big no-go.

13. They accept random friend requests

Having online friends is absolutely fine, and of course to come into contact with those people you have to accept a stranger or two… but on what basis? Accepting random or odd friend requests can seem suspicious. 

14. If he messages girls he doesn’t know

When in any kind of committed relationship, messaging someone you don’t know with flirty intention is completely unacceptable

15. If they change their relationship status

Not everyone updates their relationship status online, but if it changes from ‘In a Relationship’ to ‘Single’ or ‘It’s Complicated’, then a conversation is desperately needed to be had. 

16. If they post flirty comments

If your boyfriend feels the need to comment on another girl's picture with a flirty comment or suggestive emoji, especially someone he doesn’t know all that well, you have to question his intentions. 

Commenting that his friend looks good isn’t a problem at all, it’s nice to compliment people! But commenting anything inappropriate is a major red flag behavior.

17. He interacts with inappropriate pictures

This can range from commenting on inappropriate pictures or simply sharing them via message with a friend. 

18. They ignore you when you tag them on things

It’s key to remember that not everyone is highly active on social media, but if your partner generally yet tends to ignore social media interactions with you then this could be a red flag. 

A healthy relationship can exist outside the world of social media, but if he’s ignoring you on social media, is he ignoring you in real life? What does it really mean? 

It can be seen as a red flag as it can show that you’re not a priority, however, for some people they would rather focus on real life rather than proving their relationship online. 

19. There’s no trace of you on their social media

Again, not everyone posts frequently on social media. A 2018 study by Brigham Young University found that extensive social media usage is linked with decreased emotional wellness and lower satisfaction in interpersonal relationships (Christensen); it can also lead to low self esteem from one or both partners.

But, if there’s not a trace of you on any of their social media accounts, especially if they still have posts displaying their past relationships, then this can either say that you’re not yet in a serious relationship or that there are doubts about your future together. 

20. They over-flaunt you on social media

In opposition to there being zero trace of your relationship online, there also comes problems with posting too much as you have to question the intention. What’s the reason for them to constantly post photos of the two of you 24/7? 

Is he simply posting pictures because he’s happy and wants to show you off? Is he bragging? Or is he trying to make an ex jealous

21. Posting relationship problems on social media (past or present)

posting relationship problems on social media (past or present)

If every time you argue he turns to social media, or if he uses social media to display abusive behavior towards an ex, then you’re in major red flag territory. 

Social media and relationships can be a bad mix when your relationship problems are being put on display for the whole world to see. 

22. He’s stalking his ex

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all stalked an ex at some point in our lives, it’s completely normal! But social media stalking of an ex when in a relationship with someone else can be bad.

I think it’s fair to say that we all get curious sometimes, but if this is something that is being hidden from you and is happening frequently then you could have a problem. 

23. He reconnected with an ex on social media

This one falls under yellow flags as opposed to red flags, the reason being that it’s absolutely okay for people to be friends with their ex. You just have to consider the situation, what has spurred this reconnection and do you think you have anything to worry about? 

24. They’re still active on dating apps

If your partner or the guy you’ve been dating for a while now is still using dating apps then see this as a huge red flag, romantic relationships should be based on trust and commitment. If he’s still using dating apps then you might have neither. 

25. They turn off their location when you’re not there

A lot of people choose to have their location off of their social media accounts, understandably of course! But, if your partner usually has his location on, and turns it off specifically when you’re not with him then this could be bad.

Healthy relationships mean that you shouldn’t feel the need to hide your location from your partner. However, if this is something that has only occurred once or twice, don’t jump too quickly to conclusions as it may be a genuine error with his phone, or he may be attempting to surprise you.

26. They spend a lot of time with new friends they met online

It could be seen as a red flag if he has all of a sudden made a new friend online, and is now spending time with that person and even paying less attention to you.

27. They control your social media activity

We can talk about everything that he might be doing on his own social media, but another red flag that is often overlooked is if he is trying to control your social media activity or even asking often to see your phone. 

If this is the case, you could find yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship. 

It is in no way acceptable to try and control somebody and what they do. If there’s something that you’ve posted that he’s not happy with (and vice versa) then a simple conversation is needed to be had; being possessive and controlling is considered abusive behavior.

What to Do Next? Tips on How to Act After Noticing Red Flags

what to do? next tips on how to act after noticing red flags

Okay, so we’ve addressed the potential red flags, what now?

Firstly you have to consider the stage in which your relationship is at, and the characteristics of your partner.

What I mean by this is that everyone is different. For some, it’s normal to be overly affectionate with friends, and to stay close with an ex. Most importantly, think about yourself and how you are.

You might not like it when he comments on girls' pictures, but are you commenting on other men’s? Is there anything that he could consider as a red flag from your own social media? If so, you have to consider that it might not be a red flag at all. 

As for the stage of your relationship, if you’re in the early stages then there are certain red flags that will be entirely different to what would be in a 5-year relationship.

There are several tips on how to act after noticing red flags.

1. Be honest with your partner

Communicate! If you’re having concerns, it’s important to communicate them calmly, without jumping to conclusions. This may be something that can be resolved with a simple conversation if you allow it to be.

2. Ask a friend who understands your partner if you should be concerned

We’ve established that we can’t always trust our gut instinct, and it can be hard to see bad relationships or where they went bad. Asking a friend who understands you and your partner individually may help you to establish what is actually going on from an outside perspective.

3. Take the time to establish if your concerns are justified

Avoid jumping to conclusions. Give yourself some time to think about the red flags, and to decide whether or not you should actually be concerned. Think about the logistics of each one without allowing negative thoughts to fester.

4. Consider the position of your relationship

Consider if you’re at a point where you want to break up. Unfortunately, this isn’t always in our control, however, before getting frustrated and starting an argument, consider the position of your relationship and if you’re willing to make things work moving forward.

5. Talk about how you can resolve things

Rather than simply addressing any problems with your partner, talk about how you can resolve them so the same thing doesn’t occur in the future. Be open about your concerns and explain what you need from him in order to feel more secure in future, and in turn, what they need from you. 

6. Communicate constantly (not just when you see red flags)

If you were honest about every time you had a concern about your partner, you’ll find that you won’t allow these negative thoughts surrounding social media red flags in relationships to grow. Instead, you’ll tackle each issue as you get to it, eliminating future blow ups.

7. Consider both taking a break from social media

Taking a break from social media is never a bad thing, especially if it’s something that you decide to do together to work on your relationship and to allow yourselves time to focus on other aspects. 

8. Spend quality time together without your phones

spend quality time together without your phones

If taking a break from social media isn’t for you, then consider simply avoiding social media whilst you’re together; almost separating it from your relationship.

9. Take a break from each other

Sometimes, in order to get back on track and to trust the security you feel with your partner (that means not getting anxious every time you see him on his phone) it can be a good idea to take a break from each other. Especially in a long-term relationship.

10. Consider your own anxieties

Sometimes, we can let our worries get the better of us. If you’ve communicated to your partner, he’s reassured you and even changed a few things to make you feel better and it still isn’t working, consider other ways you can work on your own anxieties

For example, seeking medical help. It’s common that anxiety can interfere in a relationship and make small things seem a lot bigger. 

It in no way questions the way that you feel. But resolving or working on anxieties might allow you to change your mindset and give your partner the benefit of the doubt in order to make things work together.

FAQs

Is it wrong to ask my partner to see his social media activity?

The short answer is yes. No matter how suspicious you may be, it’s never healthy to resolve to checking his phone the same way you wouldn’t want him to check yours; not because you’re doing anything wrong but because you’re entitled to a bit of privacy.

If you’re suspicious, rather than asking for proof you simply need to open up an honest conversation. If you still aren’t satisfied, then it’s probably time to question whether the relationship is working. 

Is my partner spending too much time on social media? 

According to Oberlo, “the average amount of time spent on social media worldwide is set to hit 147 minutes, or two hours and 27 minutes, a day in 2023.”

With that being said, everyone is different. What truly matters is if he spends all of his time with you on his phone instead.

If you’re concerned that he’s spending too much time on social media then start by suggesting activities that involve both of you being away from your phones and see how it goes from there. He may simply be bored or feeling complacent in the relationship.

If he likes me, why is he still online dating?

Depending on the stage of your relationship, you might find that the guy you’re dating is still online dating, this can be normal. If you’ve not yet had a conversation about being exclusive, and especially if you actually met on dating apps or on social media, it can be considered normal that he would keep his options open.

I encourage you to open a conversation (subtly) about where your relationship is headed and to express your concerns about the fact that he’s still online dating or flirting with other women on social media.

Conclusion

Noticing red flags is one thing, but acting on them can feel even harder, especially if you’ve built up feelings of frustration or upset. It’s important to put your own well-being first. We know that social media can be toxic, and social media red flags can feel incredibly frustrating although they’re not always as bad as they first seem.

It’s important to express your feelings fully and to establish if your concerns are justified. Then it’s simply about taking action. Only you know what you’re willing to put up with in a relationship, meaning that only you know your own limits. 

Take the time to put yourself first, and if you trust that you’ve handled everything correctly, then whatever happens next is out of your control.

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