17 Red Flags to Look Out for in a Relationship

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You’ve probably heard about red flags in a relationship and have wondered what they are and how to recognise them. This article addresses the meaning of red flags and lists the most common ones to look out for and how to deal with them.

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What Are Red Flags in a Relationship?

Though our guide focuses on romantic relationships, red flags are warning signs that indicate manipulative or toxic behaviour in all types of relationships, including familial, friendly, and even professional relationships.

Relationship red flags can be the first signs of abuse and aggression, but they’re not always immediately noticeable. Over time, they tend to rise to the surface and start causing relationship problems. So it’s imperative to know what they are and how to identify them before the situation escalates.

DID YOU KNOW? The strength of a relationship is measured in trying times. For many British couples, house renovations test their relationship. One out of 10 British couples broke up when renovating their homes, with 15% of surveyors claiming they were ‘constantly at each other’s throats’.

17 Red Flags in a Relationship to Look Out For

Learning how to identify red flags is of utmost importance in any relationship. Carefully consider the following red flags that signify something is wrong in your relationship.

Abusive Behaviour

Physical, mental, or emotional abuse are huge red flags. If you think that your partner is emotionally or mentally harassing you, count this as a red flag. Physical abuse is more evident, and as soon as you see the first signs of such violence, you should immediately leave the relationship. Emotional and mental abuse might be more challenging to discern but can be just as detrimental as physical abuse.

Substance Abuse

One of the most obvious red flags in relationships is substance abuse. The excessive use of alcohol or drugs is considered problematic behaviour. Addiction will almost always result in an unhealthy relationship. A relationship cannot succeed if one person is dealing with addiction while their partner suffers because of it.

Undisciplined Jealousy

Jealousy is a toxic emotion, but it’s natural in small doses if kept under control. When your partner becomes uncontrollably jealous and can’t find a way to manage their reactions, accept this behaviour as a red flag. Don’t make excuses for them, believing they’re jealous because they ‘love you too much’.

Lack of Trust

The most glaring red flags in a relationship with a woman or man include a lack of or inability to trust. Since trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships, you’re dealing with a red flag when there’s a lack of trust. Even though everyone has their share of doubts, establishing a trusting relationship should be your No.1 priority.

Relationships cannot prosper without trust—particularly true for long-distance relationships. Establishing trust is the first step in learning how to make your long-distance relationship work.

Codependency

Although it may be hard to spot, codependent behaviour is a classic red flag. Because this is one of the silent red flags in a relationship, you need to pay close attention to your partner and see if they are codependent. Codependency relies solely on the partner and relationship for happiness and emotional fulfilment. When not addressed, this can cause emotional exhaustion.

Controlling Behaviour

Controlling behaviour is an immediate red flag, signifying a relationship dynamic where one partner tries to control and influence the actions of the other. Even though compromise is crucial in relationships, you should never allow anyone to exert control over your actions, thoughts, or opinions.

Gaslighting

What is a red flag in regards to gaslighting? Gaslighting is a manipulation technique which attempts to make you question your own judgement and sanity. Gaslighted individuals feel guilty for everything—even if they’ve done nothing wrong. Acknowledge this red flag before it causes too much emotional damage.

Narcissism

Narcissism is a personality disorder that manifests as an enhanced sense of importance and self-obsession. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is emotionally exhausting. Narcissists always put their needs and wants first, and you’ll probably have to hear many stories from them portraying themselves as the hero. Keep your ears open, as this can be among the red flags in a new relationship.

Inadequate Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are normal in every relationship. What matters, however, is how you manage and resolve them. You should think twice about your relationship if your partner doesn’t know how to try to resolve a dispute. Such behaviour typically manifests in one of two ways: 1) by not talking and shutting you out, or 2) by continuing to argue without any intentions of reaching an understanding. Both of these behaviours are toxic, and you should address the problem as soon as possible.

Anger Management Issues

Whenever considering red flags in a relationship with a man or woman, the subject of anger management comes up. We may get frustrated or angry during conflicts and arguments, but it’s essential to control and manage such anger. When someone can’t manage their anger, the other person may feel threatened and possibly worry for their safety. Anger management issues are a red flag that you should not ignore.

History of Bad Relationships

Past relationships can tell you a lot about a person. If the person you’re seeing is presenting all of their previous relationships in a negative light, you should ask yourself if they were to be partially blamed for these experiences. Some relationship red flags can also be seen in their other associations, such as a lack of friends, strained family relationships, etc., which indicates that the person cannot form normal, healthy relationships.

They Don’t Introduce You to Family & Friends

You’ll meet your partner’s family and friends at a certain point in each relationship. But if excessive time passes and your partner doesn’t show any indication of introducing you to their inner circle, reevaluate the relationship. This is also one of the tell-tale signs men don’t want a relationship with you. (The same can be said for women, too.)

They Don’t Post about You on Social Media

Nowadays, there are also social media red flags in relationships. Most today use social media daily and post various aspects of their lives. If you’ve been with your partner for a few months, and they don’t post anything about you on social media, something is not quite right with the relationship. Perhaps they don’t see a future with you, or they may have commitment issues. There are those, however, who don’t use social media. If that’s the case with your partner, you have nothing to worry about.

They Keep Secrets

Honesty is the best policy. If you notice that your partner is dishonest or keeps secrets from you, know that these are red flags in relationships. Secretive behaviour can indicate a more serious problem, possibly signifying that your partner is cheating. And remember that sometimes people cheat on even those they love.

They Need Constant Validation & Reassurance

Insecurity and low-self esteem can be very harmful to a relationship. If you find yourself in a relationship with an insecure person, you’ll need to provide constant reassurance and validation. This puts a lot of pressure on the supporting partner and relationship, eventually cracking under pressure.

They Put You Down

What is a red flag in a relationship? It’s a big red flag if your partner constantly puts you down. Even if they do it jokingly and say that it’s all in good fun, you should draw the line and stand up for yourself if you feel uncomfortable or think their comments are insulting. But if you both enjoy making fun of each other, go right ahead—anything goes, as long as you’re okay with it.

They Don’t Initiate Dates

And last but not least, one of the blazing red flags of a one sided relationship includes the lack of initiative. When someone doesn’t initiate dates, they more than likely don’t have much interest in being with you, meaning they’re not genuinely invested in the relationship. This situation is far from ideal, and you can feel neglected. So you may fall in love with someone else while still in love with your partner—loving two people at the same time is not uncommon.

DID YOU KNOW? Men are more likely to end a relationship over sexual infidelity because they believe it directly threatens their genetic fitness. Women don’t condone affairs, but they’re more likely to end the relationship over emotional infidelity.

What to Do When Noticing Red Flags

What is a red flag is an important question, as you need to know what to do once you notice these flags. So we’ve listed several ways you can go about navigating red flags so as not to be rash but sure in making decisions.

  • Never ignore red flags: Ignoring your problems won’t make them go away. So once you notice a red flag, don’t act like it’s not there.
  • Acknowledge your needs: Consider your needs and what it is you want out of the relationship. Then, you can either decide to work on the relationship or walk away.
  • Talk to your partner: If you decide to address the silent red flags in a relationship, you first need to talk to your partner and tell them what’s bothering you.
  • Establish boundaries: Set your boundaries and let your partner know loud and clear that they shouldn’t cross them.
  • Set up a support system: Dealing with red flags is a trying experience, so make sure you have friends and family around you to provide the much-needed support.
  • Know when to leave: A red flag doesn’t always signify the end of a relationship. But if there’s nothing more to be done, you should leave the relationship and don’t look back.

If you’re asking yourself, ‘what are red flags in a relationship, and how do you deal with them?’ you should take a long, hard look at your relationship. Check for red flags, and don’t be afraid to face your problems head-on.

DID YOU KNOW? Millennials pay a lot of attention to relationships. Around 72% of them have purposefully remained single, waiting for ‘the one’, and 40% claim they’re not willing to settle for someone just for the sake of being in a relationship.

Final Words

Red flags displayed in your partner are a problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed for the relationship to succeed. To help tackle this problem, our guide has aimed to help you identify all the red flags in a new relationship and those that might creep up over time and has provided advice on dealing with them.

FAQ

What are early red flags in a relationship?

Some early red flags may include undisciplined jealousy, codependency, secretive behaviours, or a lack of initiative.

When should you quit a relationship?

You should stop trying to make it work when you notice such red flags in a relationship as toxic behaviour. Any type of abuse (mental, emotional, physical) is also a sign to leave.

What are the red flags in a man?

Men’s red flags could manifest as controlling behaviour, lack of trust, narcissism, or substance or alcohol abuse.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I've loved writing since I can remember, and back in high school, I started loving psychology as well. So I majored in it while dabbling in spirituality and yoga on the side.

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