6 Relationship Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore
We’re very often told to avoid partners who show red flags in a relationship, but what red flags should we be looking for?
When you first start dating someone, the romance and excitement of the “honeymoon phase” can blind you, and you may miss warning signs. Red flags such as constant shaming can indicate a type of emotional abuse, which is relatively common.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 47.1 percent of women and 46.5 percent of men have experienced some form of psychological aggression in a relationship, according to a 2011 survey.
Knowing which red flags to look for can help you proceed with caution or cut things off if necessary.
1. Frequent deception
It’s not a good sign if you’re constantly catching your partner being dishonest.
“We’re all guilty of telling white lies; however, if you notice your partner consistently deceiving or getting caught in lies, it’s a red flag,” says Samara Quintero, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Choosing Therapy.
These can be small lies, such as lying about where they’re going, or large lies, such as not telling you how much debt they have.
Being lied to repeatedly can make it difficult to build a solid foundation in a relationship or destroy one that you’ve already built, leading to a shaky future, according to Quintero.
2. Constant criticises
A partner who frequently criticizes or puts you down, even if in a subtle or passive-aggressive manner, can have an impact on your self-esteem.
“This is a type of emotional abuse that can cause feelings of anxiety and insecurity in the relationship,” Quintero says.
Some common examples, she says, might sound like:
“You’re fortunate. I’m still with you because you’ll never be able to outperform me.” “When you try to be funny, you sound so ridiculous.”
According to a 2013 study, emotional abuse may be just as harmful as physical abuse, contributing to depression and low self-esteem — so this red flag should be taken seriously.
“It is critical to address this behaviour with your partner, and if they refuse to accept responsibility or express a willingness to change, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship,” Quintero says.
3. A reluctance to compromise
If your partner is unwilling to compromise, even on minor issues, you should proceed with caution.
“If you’re in a relationship with someone who seems to make everything one-sided,” says Emily Simonian, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the head of learning at Thriveworks, “you may end up feeling resentful, hurt, misunderstood, and unsatisfied.”
It’s critical in healthy relationships that you consider each other’s needs and desires, and that compromise isn’t a one-way street.
4. A proclivity to avoid difficult discussions
A partner who lacks the emotional or behavioural skills required to deal with problems and instead runs away from them can be detrimental to your relationship.
Walking away from arguments without hearing you out are two examples, as is ignoring you for days at a time when things get tough.
When things get tough, people who struggle to tolerate difficult emotions tend to lash out or flee, according to Simonian. Even healthy relationships will go through rough patches, so make sure your partner communicates effectively with you rather than running away when things get tough.
5. Excessive jealousy and controlling behaviour
If your partner is overly jealous, he or she may exhibit controlling behaviour.
For example, they may be jealous if you have a social life outside of your relationship, according to Simonian. A jealous partner may also suffocate you with excessive calls or texts, attempting to exert control over what you do.
“Control attempts usually begin subtly but gradually increase in intensity and can often leave you feeling as if nothing you do is ‘good enough,'” Simonian says. “If you notice yourself feeling suffocated or consistently changing your behaviour to appease their jealousy, it could be a sign of bigger problems to come.”
According to a 2010 meta-analysis, as jealousy in a relationship increased, so did the relationship quality, indicating that jealousy harms romantic relationships. Furthermore, a 2014 study found that people in relationships where one partner was overly possessive in the beginning were more likely to have an unhealthy communication style later in the relationship.
6. A lack of open and healthy communication
According to Quintero, a partner who resorts to passive-aggressiveness, blaming, or aggressively expressing emotions is engaging in ineffective communication.
Communication is the foundation of any relationship, so if you and your partner can’t communicate openly and healthily, you’re going to have issues.
“A healthy relationship provides a safe environment for both partners to express their emotions openly without fear of judgment or criticism,” Quintero says.
According to a 2017 study, communication early in a relationship may play a role in future relationship satisfaction, and satisfaction with communication early in a relationship may result in a more amicable partnership later on.