21 Glaring Red Flags You Can’t Ignore In A Relationship

Have you started asking questions related to your significant other’s behavior?

Maybe you’re not quite ready to specifically address something they’ve said or done recently. 

You just know something is off, and part of you hopes you can resolve the issue with minimal fuss.

Every couple has their challenges, right? 

Yet even when you tell yourself this, you know you’re not overreacting or making a big deal out of nothing.

You’re not buying the excuses anymore. 

What you’re seeing are relationship red flags.

And you’re right to be concerned. 

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What Are Red Flags in a Relationship 

Whether what you’re seeing are early relationship red flags or warning signs you’ve only started noticing, now that you’re spending a lot more time together, you’ll benefit from recognizing them for what they are. 

If you’re already keenly sensitive to dating red flags, you’ll recognize some of those here, too. Sometimes, you’re just not in the right headspace to see those “runaway” signs. Eventually, though, they become impossible to ignore. 

Think of signs like “Bridge Out Ahead” or “Nuclear Fallout Zone: DO NOT ENTER.”  

21 Red Flags in a Relationship 

Look through the following relationship red flags list and make a note of those that strike you as (ominously) familiar. Those notes will come in handy. 

1. They have to have their way in everything. 

Or they act sulky or bored when doing what you enjoy. They like to be the one deciding on everything from what you’re (both) having for dinner to what you wear to their friend’s wedding to how you decorate your home. 

Defy them, and they will find a way to punish you for it. 

2. They complain all the time. 

It’s gotten to the point where you hesitate to tell them anything. They always find something to complain about — whether it’s money, their job or lack thereof, people who’ve offended them in some way, etc. 

In many of their complaints, they blame others for the way their life is (or isn’t). 

3. They keep “teasing” you about something they want (that you don’t). 

You told them plainly and calmly that you had no interest in doing something you find both revolting and demeaning. Yet they just keep finding ways to bring it up and tease you about it, clearly hoping they’ll wear you down. 

Maybe they apologize, but they’re back at it when they think you’re ripe for suggestion. 

4. They’re in massive debt and spend money frivolously. 

Even if they’re generous toward you — buying expensive gifts to win you over or make you smile — you see where their money habits are leading, and it scares you. Because, eventually, letting money slip through their fingers is bound to catch up. 

man and woman misunderstanding while on bed red flags in a relationships

In any case, it’s better to know early on about their relationship with money (and debt). 

5. They drain you of your empathy but show you none. 

They treat you like a personal sponge for all their woes and grievances. But when you need a shoulder to cry on, they’re more likely to interrupt you or tune you out. They don’t know how to empathize with you (or they choose not to), but they see your empathetic nature and are quick to take advantage of it. 

6. They don’t respect your personal boundaries. 

They persist in tickling you (or pretending they’re about to) when they know you don’t like to be tickled. Or they insist on mauling you for a kiss to show off or impose their idea of how a romantic couple acts. 

It might seem innocent until they grip your arm with a bit more force than usual. 

7. They act as though they’re the “reasonable one” and you’re the “emotional one.” 

“Let me do the talking. You just stand there and be your adorable self.” 

They believe they are in the right about most (if not all) things. And while they might tolerate your dissenting beliefs, they’ll look for ways to undermine them. They’re also likely to dismiss your intuition (or gut instincts) as unreliable or emotion-based.

8. Their ideas of love, honesty, and respect don’t match yours. 

Fidelity, to you, means they don’t ogle others when you’re out together. But they don’t see a problem with it. Also, while they insist you give them their privacy as a sign of respect and trust, they don’t tolerate your keeping any secrets from them. 

Their view of love, respect, and honesty is the only one that matters.


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9. They ignore your calls and texts (most of the time). 

When you need their help or just want to touch base with them, they either don’t pick up or ignore your texts. And when they do call or text, they usually want something from you. Or their attitude makes it obvious they’d rather be doing something else. 

If they can’t show up for you when you need them, there’s a problem.  

10. They insist on being the center of attention. 

You get along great as long as you’re lavishing them with attention, sympathy, or praise. They don’t care about what’s going on with you, though. If you’re hurting, they might wait a few minutes, but then they’ll insist on steering the conversation back to their thing.

With every success of yours, they seem to need even more attention on themselves. 

11. They’re the expert on everything and always feel the need to prove it. 

Talk about anything (including something you went through), and they have to share what they know about something you mention. In fact, they’re more interested in showing off their knowledge than in listening to what you’re trying to tell them. 

When you ask them to let you finish talking, they act as though you don’t appreciate them.

12. They’re the victim in all their past relationships. 

They’re happy to share stories about how they were ill-used by their exes and will happily describe all their exes’ character defects — without owning their faults or mistakes. 

couple arguing red flags in a relationships

As you get to know each other better, you you start to wonder, “Were the exes really that bad?” Because you’ve only gotten one side of the story.

13. They gaslight you when you tell them something they don’t want to hear. 

Confront them on something they’ve said or done, and they deny it with such vehemence and conviction you start doubting yourself. And that’s exactly what they’re going for.  

Their goal is to get you so confused and distrustful of your perception that you rely on them to know what’s really going on. Then they can make you believe whatever they want.

14. They’re struggling with an addiction but refuse to admit they have a problem. 

They’re showing all the signs of a substance abuse problem, but with any mention of it, they’re quick to  defend their habit and tell you not to worry about it. 

If they’re unwilling to recognize their substance abuse problem, it’s best to leave until they recognize the cost of holding onto it and taking real steps toward recovery. 

15. They talk big about your future together but take no action to get closer to it. 

You’re ready to move forward, and you’re encouraged by their willingness to talk about the next step, but they’re not doing anything to get your relationship moving in that direction. 

Every time you think they’re about to ask a big question, the build-up is all for something that falls far short of your hopes.

16. They’re in a rush to move in with you or get to the altar. 

Maybe they didn’t bring those up on your first date (because yikes), but once they felt secure of your exclusive interest, they started talking about moving in together, getting married, where you should go on your honeymoon, how many kids you should have…

They invalidate your caution as fear and offer to help you “overcome it.” 

17. They treat others with impatience or rudeness. 

They’re on their best behavior with you (for now), but you notice their rudeness or impatience toward the server at the restaurant or with anyone who isn’t a friend of theirs or someone they want to impress. 

If they treat anyone with disrespect, they’re more than likely to treat you that way, too. 

18. They have zero interest in introducing you to their friends or family. 

Tell them you’d like to meet their friends, and they look at you like you’ve just invaded their “safe zone.” After all the time you’ve spent together, they still don’t feel comfortable introducing you to those who have a firm place in their life. 

Because your place in their life isn’t as important as you thought. 

19. They’re hyper-controlling and call it “just being protective.” 

They have to know where you are whenever you’re out of sight. 

couple on couch has a disagreement red flags in a relationships

They’ll even stop off at your place of work (maybe bringing a thoughtful gift or insisting on seeing you) to make sure you’re there and not off somewhere cheating on them or doing something they wouldn’t approve of. Get away while you still can. 

20. They seem to need you to feel jealous or hyper-aware that they could have anyone. 

Maybe they squeeze your hand or give you a gentle poke in the ribs every time they see someone checking them out. They just want you to know that they’re getting attention from other prospective partners and that you’re lucky to have them. 

They’re letting you know you’d be easy to replace. So, take the hint, and run. 

21. You can’t trust a word they say. 

They lie so much, you don’t know when to trust what they say (or if you ever can). They’ll say whatever they think makes them look better. Try to call them out for lying, and they’ll either make excuses or deny they ever lied. 

Or they’ll deflect blame — often right back onto you. 

When we say you “can’t ignore” these red flags, we mean you ignore them at your peril, not that they’re impossible to ignore. They’re not. We all tend to see what we want to see, even when our intuition picks up evidence to the contrary. 

So, don’t be hard on yourself if you’ve missed these signs up until now. 

Do you recognize any of these relationship red flags?

Now that you’ve looked through this list of relationship red flags, which ones sounded familiar to you? And which bothers you the most? 

Write these things down and allow yourself to elaborate based on your own experience. You might also include someone who knows you and who’s seen how your significant other treats you. Having support in this process can help you make the right decision.

Those red flags you’re seeing are strong clues to what you really want in a relationship. They can also motivate you to learn what real self-love means. 

When you love yourself, you attract better people. 

Look through the following relationship red flags list and make a note of those that strike you as (ominously) familiar. Those notes in this post will surely come in handy.

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