Top five relationship red flags
If you’ve lived on the internet for any span of time, you’ve probably heard the term “red flag.” Most of us probably know a few of the most egregious red flags out there, such as intimidation, extreme jealousy or outright abuse. But other red flags, such as manipulative or controlling behavior, can be harder to spot.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the more common, but difficult to discern, red flags. We’ll also look at why red flags are important to take note of in the first place, starting with a major caveat: at the end of the day, no matter what happens in your relationship, you’re the primary person who gets to make the decision that someone has crossed the line.
A self-confidence test
Before we dig into things, we’d like to throw a little non-conformist advice your way. Prior to even looking at red flags in your relationship, you should first consult your own intuition regarding the person you’re considering (or already) dating. Remind yourself of the following, and see if the person you’re choosing meets these truths about you:
- I’m a smart, capable person who can tell a good person from a bad one.
- I deserve the absolute best, because I’ve got many amazing qualities that the right person out there will love.
- I have a strong intuition about people, and I’ll know when someone I’m with isn’t right for me.
- I make good decisions about the people I’m with.
- I’d like to be around someone considerate, thoughtful and compatible with me.
- I’m looking for someone who brings a lot to the table.
Why do we want you to remind yourself of these things? Because at the end of the day, you know better than anyone else what you deserve, and deep down, you know what the right relationship for you looks like. Our advice is to start from a place of self-confidence that you’re going to pick the right partner, and the rest should fall into place naturally.
At the same, if you’re looking for confirmation that something’s definitely wrong with a prospective or current partner of yours, we can help with that, too. Here’s some of the top relationship red flags that indicate the person you’re pursuing is probably romantically unhealthy for you.
What are red flags in a relationship?
Relationship red flags are a sign that your partner might be engaging in unhealthy or manipulative behavior. Think of them as literal “flags” that your internal referee is throwing up in the air while shouting: something’s not right here!
The tricky thing about red flags is that they’re not always as easy to spot as… well, as actual red flags. Sometimes they don’t show up right away, and other times they start as small and insignificant before snowballing over time. When they do manifest, however, they’re usually a sign of narcissism, anxiety, internalized victimhood, aggression or (at worst) abuse from someone else.
If you’re seeing any of the following signs in your relationship, we highly encourage you take time to put the brakes on your romance, reflect on your romantic attachment to your current partner, and decide whether or not it’s time to call it quits.
One final note before we dive in: if there is any element of physical, emotional or mental abuse going on in your relationship, that’s more than a red flag. That’s an exit sign, and you know that just as well as anyone else. Don’t look for confirmation that abuse is tolerable — it’s never okay, and you should never have to put up with that kind of behavior.
Codependency, sometimes also referred to as relationship addiction, is the process by which a couple becomes isolated together. While one partner may initiate codependent behavior, it eventually envelops both parties until neither person in the relationship has anyone else to reach out to for emotional, psychological, or mental support.
A codependent relationship might look like giving up all your free time to be with your partner. Alternatively, it can take the form of severing ties with your family on your partner’s behalf, or failing to engage in office outings with coworkers due to the needs of your partner. At worst, your partner may subtly encourage you to think you’re “choosing” to remove these relationships from your life of your own volition, when in reality they are insecure about your attachments to others.
2. Inability to resolve conflict
There are two kinds of problematic conflicts in relationships: conflict avoidance, and conflict aggression. Conflict avoidant red flags involve minimizing, downplaying or sidestepping conflict altogether as a means of preserving relationship harmony. This can be detrimental, especially when the conflict at hand is a major relationship issue that requires the couple to embrace the conflict head-on.
Conflict aggression is the opposite. These kinds of red flags often present as a partner who picks fights without the goal of resolving them. The aim is not to improve the relationship; instead, the goal is to win the argument. When partners fight to win, however, everyone loses — one party may succeed in making the other feel horrible, but that doesn’t make the relationship better.
3. Nonstop jealousy
It’s normal to feel jealousy if you’re not receiving attention from your partner. But if your partner is always jealous about the people you surround yourself with, they’re probably more concerned with their happiness than what makes you happy.
4. A lack of emotional intelligence
This is one of the hardest red flags to spot, because it can feel like your partner isn’t “doing” anything wrong. Instead of actively working against you, your partner might simply not understand or pick up on your current emotional state or wellbeing. This becomes a red flag when your feelings are disregarded, dismissed or underappreciated as a result of your partner’s lack of attention.
If your partner can’t empathize with you, that means there’s something going on underneath — and that’s definitely a red flag.
Being gaslit can serve as one of the most demeaning and manipulative experiences in a relationship. In essence, gaslighting is the process by which a partner makes you question your own beliefs, judgment and sanity in order to distort your view of reality and make you feel guilty about events or situations outside of your control.
Partners who gaslight you might tell you that you’re acting crazy, that you’re making a huge deal out of nothing (even when the situation at hand really is a big deal), or that you’re misremembering a past situation. None of these behaviors are okay, and they’re a major red flag in any relationship.
Relationship red flags need to be addressed
Did you see anything that looked too relatable on this list? If so, it’s time to address the red flags in your relationship. But how? Because red flags are trickier to handle than ordinary relationship tension, our first recommendation would be to work with a professional who can help you identify, analyze and deal with red flags.
Looking for something similar?
Check out our article on moving on from betrayal!