Danger Ahead: 15 Red Flags in a Relationship You Should Never Ignore
Dating red flags—aka the actions, words and emotions that may serve as warning signs of a relationship in trouble—can sometimes be tough to spot. After all, when you're in a relationship, it can be all too easy to brush aside things that initially don't sit right with you, 0r to chalk things up as non-issues when they really are.
That's why we spoke with New York City-based therapist Meredith Mirabile-Bizzak, LMHC to find out more about red flags in a relationship, how to spot them and how to handle them.
In this article:
What Is a Red Flag in a Relationship?
Essentially, a red flag in a relationship is anything that could be considered a warning sign that the partnership may not be healthy. As Mirable-Bizzak explains, "They are intuitive indicators that something or certain behaviors need to be questioned."
Mirable-Bizzak is sure to note that, on the surface, red flags aren't inherently bad or good. "They can be an opportunity to recognize our own needs in a relationship," she says. But some red flags are important to address immediately, including abuse and controlling behaviors.
While no two relationships are alike, some of the more common dating red flags include a lack of communication, jealousy and gaslighting—all of which "can lead to insecurity and lack of trust," according to Mirable-Bizzak.
15 Relationship Red Flags to Look Out For
Worried that you've been blowing past some red flags in your own relationship? Scroll on for 15 common dating red flags our relationship expert says you should never ignore.
While it's only human to lose our cool sometimes, consistent or habitual yelling and aggressive speaking is one relationship red flag to keep an eye (and ear) out for.
Abuse of Any Kind
"Abuse can be verbal, emotional, psychological and/or physical," says Mirabile-Bizzak. "Any abuse is a sign to ask for help or to terminate the relationship."
There's a huge difference in being forgetful, and in not caring enough to remember.
While everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to white lies and mistruths, flat out lies and deception are certainly a big red flag.
Lack of Trust
Trust is one of the most important factors in analyzing the health of a relationship. "When a person has trouble being honest with themselves, they may struggle to be honest with you too," Mirabile-Bizzak points out. "Sometimes these behaviors may be calculated, but can also be a learned method of avoidance."
Either way, "being repeatedly lied to can make it challenging to build a foundation of trust," says Mirabile Bizzak.
Controlling behavior is absolutely a relationship red flag. Nobody likes, wants or deserves to be controlled or told what to do or when to do it.
It kind of goes hand-in-hand with controlling behavior, but if your partner seems extra inquisitive when it comes to your actions, friends, coworkers or how you spend your time apart from them, it can be cause for concern.
"Excessive use of drugs or alcohol can be a sign of addiction. If a person is relying on these substances to get through the day or even a tough situation, they may lack appropriate coping skills," says Mirabile-Bizzak.
Gaslighting is a common relationship term nowadays and can be characterized by a partner making you question or doubt yourself, sanity or reality.
Differences in Values
While you are certainly allowed to have individual values, what you value most as a couple and what you prioritize within your relationship should be closely aligned.
Differences in Goals
If it is becoming clear that you both have very different versions of short-term and long-term life plans and goals, it should definitely be explored further.
Inconsistency in Words and Behaviors
You know how actions speak louder than words? Be aware if your partner is saying one thing but doing another, is not following through on their promises or is often letting you down.
Coupledom is so beautiful, but so is being independent. Just because you are together doesn't mean that you need to do everything together. If it's feeling like your partner relies on you more and more—even to do simple tasks or daily errands—they might be showing signs of codependency.
A Lack of Listening
If you often feel like you might be talking to a wall, perhaps you are. If you don't feel heard or listened to in your relationship, it could definitely be a red flag.
Another relationship red flag could be if your partner has a habit of consistently or seemingly always putting themselves first. Your relationship is about two people, not just one.
What to Do If You Notice Relationship Red Flags
If you're noticing red flags in your relationship, Mirabile-Bizzak says to listen to your instincts. What would you tell a friend or loved one who is in your situation? "If something doesn't feel right, act on it," encourages Mirabile-Bizzak. "Try to identify the feeling or the need that isn't being met in the relationship—such as comfort, connection or empathy—and ask yourself is this something you can get from this partner."
Mirabile-Bizzak also encourages the setting of healthy boundaries and expressing yourself through open communication and self-care exercises like journaling. "In any relationship, practicing a self-care routine can help to maintain your overall well-being, provide insight into your own needs and encourage you to share these needs or be more direct when they are not being met." she explains. "If you are journaling, revisit your [relationship] concerns the next day and see if they still feel genuine."
And, if you need help, ask for it. Licensed counselors and therapists are a wonderful resource for externalizing your concerns.