From the outside, it can appear to be extremely simple to identify whether a relationship is toxic or not. While we’ve all been by our best friend’s side whenever they were with a toxic partner, it is difficult to identify relationship red flags for oneself. So, I have taken the responsibility of breaking down these 10 dating red flags that should send you running.
We’ll also address two other important questions: what is a red flag, and what’s the need for a dating red flags checklist? Well, red flags are early signs that point out that something about the relationship dynamic needs to be addressed or questioned. Red flags are deal-breakers or negative qualities that a romantic partner displays that can act as trigger warnings for you in a relationship or even before you get into one.
Now I understand that relationship deal breakers vary for each individual. However, today we have made a list of relationship red flags that are common and have to be acted upon. From red flags a guy is playing you to red flags of a damaged woman, we have covered it all. If your relationship shows any of these signs, you can safely assume that it’s a toxic relationship (and that your best friend has been right all along).
What are red flags?
In general terms, red flags are the alarming bells that draw your attention to problematic issues that should be addressed immediately. And it’s applicable to all kinds of relationships, not just the romantic ones. A research paper published by Louisiana State University defines red flags as any undesirable quality, characteristic, behavior, state, or trait that a person possesses that the other person wouldn’t want in a potential romantic partner.
Assuming that you have already wrapped your head around the concept of red flags, let’s make one thing very clear. Just because you have committed to the relationship/marriage and promised to love your partner with all their flaws, doesn’t mean you have to make you have to continue suffering in silence. If there’s a persistent behavior pattern in your partner that bothers you very much, it’s time to do something about it.
The top red flags when dating can be categorized into two types – the deal breakers and the rectifiables. For example, physical abuse, anger issues, extreme narcissism, and substance addiction can be considered deal breaker red flags in a person. On the other hand, unfair jealousy, codependency, and gaslighting tendencies can still be solved through communication and relationship counseling.
That being said, it’s a very subjective area. If your partner’s trust issues make your life a living hell, it can very well be a deal breaker for you. Talking about annoying red flags in a person, a Reddit user says, “Holds on to literally everything and brings up stuff you said months ago, even if you forgot saying it. That scorekeeping stuff gets old really fast, especially when you don’t remember if it’s even accurate or not.”
We have created a checklist of top red flags when dating covering multiple scenarios. Take a look:
Red flags before moving in together
- Your partner doesn’t want to talk about the finances
- Your lifestyles are poles apart
- There are communication gaps and trust issues between you two
Red flags to look for in online dating
- They tactfully avoid all personal questions and the prospect of meeting in person
- This person is only after sex and steer every conversation into the sexual territory
- They ask you for a monetary favor out of nowhere
- They brag a lot about themselves and it all seem too good to be true
- They send inappropriate pictures without your permission
Red flags a guy is playing you
- He doesn’t introduce you to his friends or family
- He never shows up when you need him
- You are the one who calls and texts first and makes all the effort
Red flags of a damaged woman
- She has low self-esteem and a insecure attachment style
- She is still hung up on her ex
- She has severe trust issues
Texting red flags
- The classic – one-word replies
- They are online but not responding to your texts
- Or the opposite, they text you all day all night long, and demand you do the same
These 10 Dating Red Flags Should Send You Running NOW!
They say love is blind for a reason. It’s easy to get blinded by the good over the bad when you are in a relationship with someone. Love does that to you; it makes you ignore your partner’s flaws. It makes you see a person through a lens of what you’d like them to be, instead of who they actually are. The few who can see them are unwilling to recognize them as problems.
Very few situations warrant a person escaping through the bathroom window during a date. If you spot any one of these 10 dating red flags during the initial stages of the relationship, run! You will be saving yourself a lot of time, effort, energy, and eventual heartache if you spot these red flags in the talking stage with a potential partner.
These signs are something a relationship with healthy boundaries would never have, so be open to accepting the fact that the person who’s made you Google the early relationship warning signs is just not the right one for you. Honor your well-being by walking away from an unhealthy relationship sooner rather than later if your partner disrespects you. Here are the 10 dating red flags that should send you running:
Related Reading: 8 Habits Of Couples In Strong And Healthy Relationships
1. Red flags not to ignore when dating someone new: A pattern of inconsistency
Partners are supposed to be by our side during the highs and lows that life puts us through. When you’re in a relationship, you want to be able to rely on your partner at all times, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The word you’re looking for is consistency. It’s the foundation for a sustainable and strong relationship. The words “I am here for you” relay a sense of safety and reliability in a relationship. If there is a lack of commitment, there is a good chance you are in a situationship.
Girls, if a guy you’re seeing is telling you all the perfect things but rarely acts on them, it’s one of the most obvious red flags a guy is playing you with his sweet words. When their words don’t match their actions, that right there is a sign of inconsistency. It is easy to wonder if you’re asking for too much, but I am here to tell you that you are not. You are just asking the wrong person.
Experiencing inconsistency in a relationship is detrimental to your emotional and psychological health. It’s not easy to deal with being ignored by someone you love. I speak from experience; in one of my past relationships my ex would constantly send out mixed signals about ‘being there’ for me. It was only after we split that I realized that she was selectively supportive of the things that were convenient and mattered to her.
2. Dating red flags checklist: Emotional unavailability is their forte
Dating an emotionally unavailable person is like rowing a boat against the flow of the river. It’s never going to get you anywhere because of the serious intimacy barrier that prevents a relationship from maturing to its full potential. As stated before, no sign from this list of dating red flags checklist should be ignored if you are seeking a happy and sustainable relationship.
Out of these 10 dating red flags that should send you running, this second one is the most exhausting. The push and pull that comes with being in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person will test your tolerance levels. Of all the relationship red flags, emotional unavailability is the one I fear the most, and with good reason too.
It’s not easy to spot and identify if an emotionally unavailable man loves you or the woman you’re with is emotionally distant. However, there are a few signs that you can be on the lookout for – check if they actively steer away from deep conversations, if they fear commitment and if they get defensive easily. Their emotional unavailability can be linked to their attachment styles. And it’s certainly one of the biggest red flags before moving in together, mark my word!
3. Looking for red flags before moving in together? Watch out for any insecure behavior
We’ve all felt insecure at some point of time in our life. Whether someone lets their insecurity get the better of them or not is the real question here. A vast proportion of men are woefully oblivious of their insecurities. If you’re dating an insecure man, it’s possible you might not discover his insecurities till a few months into the relationship.
Let’s discuss some red flags of an insecure man and a few easy ways to spot one so you can prevent getting trapped in a toxic relationship. A simple exercise is to be on the lookout for certain behavioral tendencies. When it comes to expressing emotions, does he go overboard? Is he clingy and in need of constant reassurance?
When you mention going out with your friends does your partner intentionally call you excessively to ‘check-in’ on you or with something ‘urgent’ to talk about? Be careful about these red flags before moving in together. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who grapples with relationship anxiety every time you’re away and has to be reassured over and over again. Insecurities in relationships look different for every couple.
Related Reading: How Can I Overcome Feeling Insecure In Relationships?
4. Red flags not to ignore when dating someone new: They don’t treat you as their equal
All the women out there, tell me if this sounds familiar – you meet a guy and the two of you hit it off and you go on a few dates, then you notice that he has been mansplaining things to you all along. Yes, that awkward realization when you’ve been cut off in the middle of the conversation and mansplained to because he thinks he knows better.
Count this as one of the early relationship warning signs. Mansplaining is just the tip of the iceberg and a sign that you’re dating a boy and not a man. It’s only one of the indicators that should alarm you to be on the lookout for instances where he has made you feel small. There are others, such as:
- Your inputs in a conversation are not taken seriously and instead mocked
- Your opinion is not of any importance to him
- Belittling your accomplishments
- Always expecting you to compromise
If your partner does not view you as their equal, it’s going to cause a lot of friction in the relationship. People reveal a lot of things about themselves during the early stages of dating. If you really pay attention, you may be able to spot several red flags not to ignore when dating someone new.
5. They want the relationship to be a secret
Phew! And now for the 5th out of 10 dating red flags that should send you running out of that relationship. The fine line between a relationship that is private and one that is a secret; however, how you feel in these two different types of relationships can be poles apart. There is nothing wrong with keeping your romantic life low-key. However, if you can’t even mention your partner to your close friends because you’re their dirty little secret, it is without a doubt one of the biggest red flags a guy is playing you or a girl you’re with isn’t fully invested in the relationship
I want to point out that a relationship that is private will not need any defending in your mind. The problem only begins when your partner does not want you to tell anyone about the relationship. Pay close attention here, if a person doesn’t want to discuss you with their friends, maybe they have their reasons. Question why your speech is being censored. If you’re both on the same page about keeping it a secret, maybe things can work smoothly for a while.
Just know that a secret relationship always takes a toll on you, more so if the secretive ways are one-sided. If a relationship is a secret, it’s definitely not being built on the foundation of authenticity and honesty. I bet you are feeling grateful for stumbling upon these 10 dating red flags that should send you running. For sake of clarity of whether that is, in fact, what’s happening in your case, look out for these signs your partner wants to keep the relationship under cover:
- They are strictly against PDA
- They wouldn’t introduce you to a friend, let alone family
- They are emotionally unavailable
- It doesn’t seem like your relationship has a future
6. Your friends and family dislike your partner
Your friends and family can see your partner through an unbiased lens. They can see them for who they truly are and let’s be honest, after having been by your side through your last few relationships, you already know that they’d always spotted the signs of trouble you’d missed and were right in their assessment of your partners.
Value your friends and family’s opinion of your partner; at the very least be considerate of what they point out (because they always will) and do your best to see what they’re trying to show you. Eight times out of ten, they’re going to be right. Here are a few warning signs they must notice in your partner that you don’t:
- They don’t like the way your partner treats you in public
- They can see this relationship is changing you and not in a good way
- Your partner acts smug in front of them
It should be simple to be able to talk to your friends about the person you’ve started seeing. If you’re having to avoid mentioning your SO to the people closest to you, because they dislike that person and think you can do better, they are right. Your close ones will have an objective point of view of your relationship, they know your worth as an individual and they will ALWAYS see through your tendencies since they don’t want you making mistakes and getting hurt.
7. You’re exhausted from making the effort
Both partners need to put in an equal amount of effort into a relationship to be able to sustain. It is a partnership after all, and while the effort may not always be 50/50 in every single area, you should be able to see that your partner is doing their best and channeling their strengths, working on their weaknesses to make the relationship blossom. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is the most common dating red flag that most people fail to acknowledge early on.
A lack of effort, whether it’s from you or your partner, will ruin your relationship. But because you’re the one looking for red flags, it’s safe to assume you’re at the receiving end of it. Fortunately, there are signs, or should I say red flags in the talking stage itself, that will save you from getting into an emotionally exhaustive relationship with lopsided effort. You’re welcome 🙂
Simply put, if you’re always expected to match your partner’s schedule for a date, you always have to clean up their mess. and have to go out of the way for them, then there is a problem brewing here. Proceed with caution if you’re thinking of moving in together. It’s the beginning of a dysfunctional relationship and it will leave you feeling drained. Don’t make the mistake of avoiding these red flags before moving in together.
8. If the ex is still in the picture, it’s one of the red flags a guy is playing you
*sighs* And now for the 8th out of these 10 dating red flags that should send you running. I should not even have to mention this one, but because we’re discussing red flags not to ignore when dating someone new, I have to share a few common instances that repeat themselves far too frequently.
It’s difficult to accept that your partner is hanging out with or interacting with their ex. Feeling uncomfortable with your partner being friends with the ex is normal. It’s only natural for you to feel threatened. For most couples, being friends with an ex never works out well for the relationship due to several factors.
If you find yourself in this situation, talk to your partner about this, and if your feelings about the friendship are ignored, be alarmed that maybe you’re in a rebound relationship. It happens to be one of the most prominent red flags to look for in online dating, especially if the other person can’t stop talking about their ex. The involvement of an ex can pan out differently for different relationships, but there are certain scenarios involving exes that should serve as red flags, warning bells, danger signs, and what-have-you.
- First comes the friends-with-ex scenario. Too good to be true because two exes are hardly ever ‘just friends’
- Scenario second, diss-the-ex-a-lot. Someone who’s constantly bad-mouthing their exes, calling them crazy or awful, doesn’t seem like a mature, balanced person. They lack the empathy, maturity, and objectivity to recognize why a relationship failed
- And thirdly, a their-ex-your-friend type situation. No, really. If their ex is a mutual friend, run. Let’s leave that for the sitcoms
Related Reading: 11 Relationship Qualities That Are a Must Have For A Happy Life
9. Want to know some other red flags of an insecure man/woman? They are passive-aggressive
Out of all the dating red flags, this is the one of the worst. Granted, everyone has a different way of expressing their anger, but there isn’t much you can do when your partner turns hostile toward you. Passive-aggression is a relationship killer. Being assertive is completely different from being aggressive, equally worse when it’s done passively.
You can easily spot this during the initial stages of dating someone new. These red flags in the talking stage are warning signs, asking you to proceed with extreme caution. You can’t label it a healthy relationship if you’re never going to know what your partner is thinking or feeling. It is truly detrimental to your relationship because you will constantly feel like you don’t know them well enough, and you don’t.
The last thing you want is to feel like your partner is a complete stranger a few months into the relationship. It’s important to know when to walk away from a relationship before you feel lost and numb. In fact, it turns out to be one of the major texting red flags if the person you met online vanishes for days after every minor disagreement.
A quick way to spot a passive-aggressive person is to look for instances where you find them verbally denying their anger or trying to avoid conflict all the time; maybe you find that they withdraw and sulk when angry. If you could relate to any of these instances, there is a high probability that you are dealing with a passive-aggressive person. And I want you to know that you don’t need to.
10. There have been instances of gaslighting
Let’s say you bring up a concern that has been bothering you, hoping for a resolution or at the least for your partner to hear you out. But things take a turn and instead they call you too sensitive and dismiss your feelings. Gaslighting in relationships is a way for a manipulative partner to hold the reins of the relationship and remain in control.
If you’ve had instances where your partner has criticized you or shifted the entire blame onto you, making you question your own judgment, then you were gaslighted. A gaslighter would deliberately challenge your narrative by saying, “This never happened” or, “You’ve misunderstood the situation” or “It’s all in your head”.
A simple way to know if you’re being gaslighted by your partner is by asking yourself if you feel like you walk on eggshells around them. Do you find yourself always filtering your thoughts before you say them out loud so you don’t piss your partner off? That’s because they’re a ticking bomb and you’re in constant worry about what might trigger them.
- Inconsistency between words and actions is a major relationship red flag
- Emotional unavailability and insecure behavior of a partner are equally threatening signs
- If there is a power imbalance and only one person is making all the efforts, it’s a red flag
- Are you discussing a lot about their ex? Then it’s not a good sign
- Passive-aggressive and gaslighting-prone partners are the epitome of relationship red flags
That wraps up all the 10 dating red flags that should send you running. This dating red flags checklist we have curated for you should give you exit points in your relationship. Remember, huge emotional turmoil isn’t part of the package in a healthy relationship. If you found yourself relating to even one of these signs, you should consider parting ways with your partner. If you think you have a friend who needs to see these signs loud and clear, send this piece their way.