25 Red Flags In A Relationship You Should Take Seriously

Be aware of the warning signs and be ready to step up or move out as required.

Reviewed by Karen Marshall, Certified Relationship & Dating Expert Karen Marshall Karen MarshallCertified Relationship & Dating Expert facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English) Asmita De MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Experience: 4 years

When you are in a relationship, you often lose the sense of right and wrong. You do not notice many relationship problems and red flags and adjust to everything. Initially, you may not notice them, and you may even consider them a normal part of every relationship. However, by the time you realize the truth, you might have become the victim of negative behavior. And it will not be easy to come out of that mess, especially if you have fallen in love already.

If you opt not to address these issues, it may become something big and deep from which you may not be able to escape soon. To help you out, we have listed 25 early warning signs or red flag signs you need to look out for. Scroll down.

25 Relationship Red Flags To Look Out For

1. Disrespectful Behavior

Disrespectful behavior is a red flag in a relationship
Image: Shutterstock

Does your partner treat you with disrespect and often put you down? Do they make most of the decisions without consulting you? Do they check out other people openly in your presence? Do they embarrass you in front of others?

If yes, you are dealing with a partner who does not prioritize you and disrespects you. While no relationship is perfect, this one is a definite red flag as mutual respect is crucial for a healthy relationship.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Discuss the issue with your partner and understand the reason behind such behavior. Let them know your feelings and see if they try to change their behavior. Reconsider the relationship if you don’t see any improvement.

2. They Are Manipulative

“I want you to listen to me. Do you not love me?” 

“If you love me, then you will do as I say.”

If you keep hearing such things from your partner, it indicates that they are controlling and manipulative. They may also make every effort to use your emotions as a weapon against you and make you feel miserable. They frequently use manipulation and gaslighting to convince you to change your mind to match their thinking.

If you have a controlling partner who starts to manipulate everything you do, from what clothes you wear to how you socialize with friends, making you feel guilty about the little things, it may signal a serious issue.

Didi Orajiaku, a blogger, emphasizes the importance of recognizing and addressing red flags in relationships. She shared personal experiences of encountering red flags and wrote, “When I was in college, I dated this guy who would demand I left whatever I was doing in school to come and visit him. He lived in a different state, about one hour’s drive from my school. Sometimes he would come to my school and demand I pack my bags and follow him home. He would pick a fight when I explained I had classes or assignments that prevented me from honoring his demands (i).”

3. They Are Never Ready To Compromise

There can be differences of opinion in relationships, and both may not agree on the same points. Finding a middle ground is crucial for a healthy and happy relationship. However, if your partner refuses to comply and sticks to their ground, it is an issue.

Compromising is not about giving in to each others’ demands. It is about looking for the midway. If you find yourself giving in to your partner’s demands all the time, it is a serious red flag.

4. Refusing To Talk About Feelings

Is your partner emotionally unavailable? Are they reluctant to talk about their past relationships, inner feelings, family, friendships, and future goals? If yes, it is a clear sign that they are holding back important information about themselves.

In a healthy relationship, both should be able to express themselves freely. Both should feel comfortable being transparent about issues, past relationships, and vulnerabilities. However, if the other person shuts down when you bring up such discussions or just changes the topic, it is a red flag.

Take your time to re-evaluate your relationship. If you are dating, analyze if this relationship is worth fighting for. They might be trying to hide their past, have commitment issues, are not clear about their intentions, or concealing some ongoing issue. This is learned behavior from childhood, only possible to change when we become consciously aware of its impact to communicate in a much healthier way moving forward. If your partner is unaware of their behavior, doesn’t self-reflect, they will not change.

5. Not Introducing You To Family

Not introducing to family is a red flag in a relationship
Image: Shutterstock

If you have been dating for a while now and your partner is reluctant to introduce you to their close family and friends, this is a definite red flag sign in your relationship. While it could just be anxiety or their desire to keep the family away from interfering in your relationship, it can also indicate that they are not serious enough for a long-term relationship. In most cases, they are fearful of commitment, or love if you get too emotionally close, which includes family and friends.

6. Taking Forever To Return A Call Or Text

Do your calls and texts go unattended or unanswered for days at a stretch? If yes, this is a red flag in the relationship. If you have just started dating, this could mean you are not a top priority in your partner’s life. Moreover, if your partner is hiding behind work and how busy they are, or cancels a date last minute and often cites work meetings, or something else as a reason to not revert your text or calls, a relationship is not the top of their agenda and means something is wrong.

7. There Is Always A Power Imbalance

A relationship is a two-way street where both have to support each other to grow and make the bond thrive. If it does not happen, and if one is constantly trying to exert control over the other (the submissive one), consider it a red flag.

Although the best way to handle it is by expressing your concerns loud and clear, if nothing changes or fixes the power imbalance, it is time to re-evaluate the pattern of your relationship.

8. They Keep Secrets

If your partner is hiding things from you constantly, it is a definite red flag. The idea here is not to share every little thought with your partner. But if they are hiding major issues like unresolved addictive behavior, financial issues like debts – that is a cause for concern. Trust is the basis for any healthy relationship and if there is dishonesty, that is a red flag. Do not ignore your instincts or any behavior that appears strange to you.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Give them time to improve themselves. Set a time – a week or month. However, if they still keep secrets from you, there’s no point in giving them a second chance, as it may further encourage them to continue with what they were doing.

9. Everything Is Just About Them

Everything is just about them is a red flag in a relationship
Image: Shutterstock

One major red flag in a relationship is when everything revolves around your partner. This includes conversations, day-to-day life, and everything in between. It shows clear signs of narcissism, and things can worsen with time.

People with an inflated sense of their importance are often not concerned about other’s desires or concerns and are devoid of empathy in general. Spending more time with such people can make you feel lonely, guilty, and doubt your self-worth. The earlier you distance yourself from such a person, the better.

10. They Never Apologize

If your partner finds it hard to apologize to you even though they might have hurt you, it is a bright red flag that you should not ignore. They never take ownership of their actions or words and make you feel guilty for feeling the way you do.

11. They Try To Belittle You With Disparaging Humor

Humor is the best way to bring people closer. However, there is a very fine line between funny and offensive humor. Does your partner say hurtful and insulting things framed as a joke? Do they use humor as a disguise for anger and ridicule? If yes, this is a red flag, and you should voice your concerns.

12. They Are Still Talking About Their Ex

If you are in a relationship with a person who just had a breakup, you may be their rebound or distraction. Rebound relationships hardly work because they might still be hanging on to their ex.

While it is all right for your partner to talk about their previous relationships once in a while, consider it as one of the new relationship red flags if:

  • They are still holding on to the pictures or texts of their ex on their phone.
  • They are always and continuously talking about their ex.
  • They check out their social media profiles quite often.
  • They remain in regular contact as friends without boundaries.

At any point, if you feel like you are just a substitute, it is time to re-evaluate your status as a couple.

13. They Are Always Critical Of You

They are always critical of you could be a red flag in a relationship
Image: Shutterstock

There is no harm in being honest with the person you are in a relationship with. But if your partner is over-critical of you, there is something not right here. If your partner constantly scrutinizes you about the way you look, speak, or behave and never compliments you, it is not healthy for any relationship.

In such cases, the chances are that they will never be satisfied with what you do, and it is better to think these issues through before they get too challenging to handle.

14. You Keep Justifying Their Bad Behavior

If you find yourself always justifying your partner’s behavior even after knowing that they are wrong, it is a surefire red flag. Sometimes, it is not possible to justify undesired behavior. If you often find yourself giving excuses to others for your partner’s mistake, it is time to re-evaluate everything.

So, instead of rationalizing everything they do or say and discarding all other evidence that does not align with your views, or values you regard as important, take time to pause and think if this relationship is worth your time.

15. They Are Rushing Everything

If your relationship feels like a sprint race where your partner rushes everything, take your time to assess the situation. For instance, within a few months of dating, they insist on moving in together, or some may even push you to get engaged within a year.

Usually, such things are not time-bound. However, if you feel you are not ready yet and your partner rushes to jump to the next stage, this is a red flag you should not avoid. This generally happens during a rebound but can occur in other situation. Running a marathon takes training and preparation before you pass the finish line. As does a longer-term relationship. Put in your training before you take any serious next step. Within 6 months of regular dating, you will get a clear picture whether a partner is right for you or not.

16. They Keep Crossing Boundaries

When you are in an early stage of your relationship, some boundaries may probably be crossed as rules may not be fully set. However, if you have already spoken about it with clearly set boundaries and yet your partner tries to push or cross them, it is a clear sign of a bad relationship or a partner who disrespects your opinion.

For instance, does your partner try to touch you innocently (like repeatedly poking your arm, rubbing against your shoulders, and hugging) even when you ask for personal space? If yes, they do not respect your needs and constantly try to push the boundaries. Or they may say something that makes you feel uncomfortable and they discount your wishes when you express your personal boundaries, which is acceptable. If they don’t listen now, they will never listen.

17. Have Contrasting Values

Contrasting values is a red flag in a relationship
Image: Shutterstock

Having different value systems is not an issue as long as you share your most important values e.g. trust, honesty, importance of family, and you both recognize the contrast you will learn something new from each other. However, differences in the core values can be a red flag. For instance, views on core matters like religion, wanting children after marriage, what parenting style you each want to impress on your children, and working spouse may not align.

If neither of you is willing to compromise a bit, it may become a subject of constant conflict. It is important to be on the same page as your partner. Else, power struggles will be a common concern in your relationship.

18. A History Of Failed Relationships

A person may have failed relationships. However, consider it a red flag if they cannot evaluate the reasons. If they constantly blame it on their ex for creating all the issues and if they have a long history of failed relationships, it is time you should be reevaluate your relationship.

19. Overly Jealous

Do you find your partner searching through your phone or reading your emails without your permission? Do they get upset when you spend time with your family and friends? If yes, it is a sign of possessiveness and insecurity and that your partner gets jealous when you do anything that does not involve them.

While jealousy is often passed off as being “protective,” sometimes, it can go to the extent of controlling your movements. Jealousy is often the initial sign of emotional abuse, which may worsen further. If your partner shows obsessive jealousy, it is not normal and should be watched out for. If you feel you are treading on eggshells and cannot be yourself, it is time to consider your options to find a healthier relationship.

20. Abusive Behavior

Abusive behavior is one relationship reg flag that should never be overlooked, rationalized, or tolerated. Abusing is not always about physical abuse, hitting, or humiliating you. It is characterized by a wide spectrum of behaviors including emotional and verbal abuse.

For instance, your partner does not respect the boundaries, detaches you from your friends and family, forces you into isolation, wants you to quit your work, criticizes you for everything, takes your money, and wants you to be completely dependent on them, accuses you of cheating, and keeps track of your whereabouts. If your partner shows any of these behaviors, it is a clear alarm that you should get out of that relationship.

21. You Are Constantly Unhappy

You are constantly unhappy is a red flag
Image: Shutterstock

All relationships have their ups and downs. However, if all you can recollect is a bunch of sad and unhappy memories, that means the negatives in your relationship have outweighed the positives.

We usually think of happy memories to cheer ourselves up during tough times. But if you are always feeling unhappy, dissatisfied and there is no shared joy between you and your partner, it is time to reconsider the relationship.

22. You Live Parallel Lives

If you are continuously questioning your compatibility with your partner and finding that you are leading separate and parallel lives, that is a red flag.

When you are in a relationship, your lives should be weaved together in certain ways. It’s healthy when you each spend alone time with friends, family or doing separate interests too. However, if you see that none of your lives are intersecting at any point, it is a sign that something is off. For instance, you have nothing to talk about to each other, you barely spend time together, and do not even check on each other, or just having one-sided conversations – these are signs that both of you are not “together” anymore, or you are taking each other for granted. Before it’s too late, seek some expert support, especially if you have children. When you consider what attracted you together in the first place, you can bring love back into flow once more.

23. You Do Not Trust Each Other

Trust is the foundation of any relationship. It has to be earned, and if the foundation is weak, it is a clear sign of a problematic relationship. Lack of trust between the partners can give rise to tension and constant stress. If you feel there are many missing pieces, your partner is hiding some major information, or is not completely truthful to you, it may affect the integrity of your relationship, and you will lose mutual respect.

24. Irresponsible And Unpredictable Attitude

If your partner is consistently struggling to master essential life skills, such as managing finances, taking care and organizing their daily needs, holding onto a job responsibly, and planning their life and future, it is a red flag to avoid. In such scenarios, you will find yourself always busy taking care of their issues, becoming a parent to them and your issues will go unaddressed. You may not rely on them for anything, which may leave you exhausted and emotionally drained. If they are unable to support you and be responsible, you cannot expect them to give you a happy future that you deserve.

25. Your Family And Friends Do Not Like Them

if your family and friends don't like them it is a red flag
Image: Shutterstock

You may be blindly in love with your partner and ignore any red flags. However, your family and best buddies will notice if something is off. Listen to them. While you may not feel good about the criticism initially, try to evaluate their opinion from a third person’s perspective. So, if your best friend or the closest family member does not like your partner, that’s a red flag you should consider.

Infographic: 6 Red Flags In A Relationship

If you are in a relationship with someone controlling and hurtful but unsure if they are a walking red flag, the infographic below is for you. It will give you a quick recap of the warning signs that indicate potential toxicity within a partnership. Scroll down to read the top 6 red flags you should be aware of.

6 red flags in a relationship (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Every relationship has its fair share of ups and downs. However, one must be alert enough to notice the difference between harmless disagreements and toxic behavior. If you find yourself questioning your happiness, values, and your own and the relationship’s worth, there might be an underlying problem. If you have noticed any of the relationship red flags mentioned above, it would be best to sit down with your partner and talk about them. Be open-minded about working through it if possible or walking away from it if it doesn’t work for you. Sometimes, we are in love with the idea of being in love, which makes us commit to a relationship that doesn’t live up to that idea. It is better to end things than stay in an unfulfilling or unhealthy relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you quit a relationship?

If you feel undervalued, disrespected, or neglected in a relationship, but your partner refuses to address your concerns, dismisses you, and makes no effort to solve these issues, it is time to call it quits.

Does time help a relationship?

Time heals most wounds in a relationship. However, if a relationship has experienced damage beyond repair, where partners cannot agree to communicate and arrive at solutions, it is best for the couple to part ways.

What matters most in a relationship?

Love, respect, trust, commitment, communication, gratitude, and effort matter equally in a relationship.

What are pink flags in a relationship?

Pink flags are less severe than red flags. These are subtle, intuitive signs you decide to overlook because they look like superficial deal breakers, and you do not wish to be shallow. For instance, you and your partner might have different opinions about hygiene and home organization, and you decide it’s not a big deal. However, one partner finds the other’s lack of organization taking over their lives over time. These pink flags are subjective and may not turn into red flags for everyone else.

Can taking a break save a relationship?

If the relationship is still salvageable and the couple still has feelings of love and respect for each other and wants to make their relationship work, a break can help save the couple from codependency, preserve themselves, and look at their relationship from a different perspective.

Key Takeaways

  • The rush of a new relationship can blind you to the obvious negative behavior of your partner. You may date for a few months or a year before you decide to commit, otherwise your rose tinted glasses of new love may cover the red flags.
  • You might want to rethink a relationship if your partner displays manipulative, disrespectful behavior and tends to put you down under the guise of humor.
  • Some other red flags that your partner may display include not introducing you to their family and keeping big secrets from you.
  • If you are not heard, listened to, your opinion valued, it will be a one-sided unhappy relationship that will not last.
red flags in a relationship

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

There may be red flags in your relationship that are hidden in plain sight! Learn to recognize the patterns to protect yourself from the trauma of unhealthy relationships by checking out this video.

Personal Experience: Source

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Karen Marshall

Karen MarshallLife Coach

Karen Marshall is a revolutionary UK relationship and dating expert, life coach, mentor, trainer, and wellbeing expert with 14 years of experience. She offers a uniquely qualified combined healthy relationship communication solution toolkit to empower individuals and couples who value their relationship self-development to recognize, attract, and build a loving and thriving relationship. She has achieved extraordinary relationship success, walking...read full bio

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