The heady, exhilarating effect of a budding romance often makes us look past the differences between us and a potential partner. The rose-tinted glasses you’re donning make the sky look more beautiful, and everything seems to fall into place. However, when you successfully ignore the red flags in a woman, trouble rears its ugly head once infatuation begins to wear off. And when you see things for what they are, you may already be in too deep.
That’s why it’s important to spot the red flags in a relationship with a woman, despite how much you might want to believe that everything is blissfully perfect. Moreover, the earlier you can spot potential trouble points, the sooner you can figure out how to address them.
Since you’re not mind readers, a person’s behavior, speech and actions are all you have to go on in order to assess whether their presence in your life is doing you more harm than good. To that end, let’s take a look at the biggest red flags in a girl you must never overlook with the help of psychotherapist Gopa Khan (Masters in Counseling Psychology, M.Ed), who specializes in marriage and family counseling.
13 Red Flags In Women You Should Never Ignore
“The red flags in a woman or a man are essentially the same,” Gopa points out, “An abuser always displays similar traits, irrespective of the gender. Nonetheless, knowing what they are can help you make sure what you’re diving headfirst into isn’t a toxic dynamic.”
When their relationship first started, Kevin looked past the way Samantha would become disrespectful and call him names every time they got into any sort of argument. What he assumed to be a “heat of the moment” situation turned out to be an obvious lack of respect in the relationship.
With every sarcastic remark and every belittling jibe, Kevin felt the hole he had dug for himself get deeper. When he realized he was dreading talking to Samantha every day, he knew it was time to call it quits.
What are the red flags in a girlfriend? Answering the question is the difference between a situation like Kevin’s or understanding what you need to work on (or walk away from) early on in a relationship. Let’s take a look at what you should be on the lookout for:
“I was counseling this couple that had started dating during the lockdown. They had never met each other and started the relationship over the phone. They broke up in the middle because she started calling him names, telling him he’s stupid and helpless,” recalls Gopa.
“These things may not really send red flags, since friends can often partake in such banter. But when it’s a romantic relationship, especially in this case where the couple hadn’t even met each other yet, they needed to be cautious with how they were talking to each other.
“Their relationship is now on the rocks. When you’re dating a person and they’re not treating you well, that’s one of the biggest red flags in a relationship with a woman you need to look out for,” she advises.
When you’re belittled and made to feel stupid for a mistake, it can sap away your confidence. You wouldn’t want the source of that to be from the person you love the most, would you?
2. Expectations from the partner
“One of the common red flags in a woman is when she’s expecting her prince charming to swoop her off her feet and ‘rescue’ her from all her troubles. That kind of princess syndrome leads to needy behavior, which some men can so easily fall for, assuming it to be an act of affection.
“What those men don’t realize is that that’s a 50-year-long load they’ve just signed up for. Sure, it’s wonderful for the ego of most men who cherish being the head and the problem solver in the family, but you need to understand that you need an independent person in your life. A dependent person will pull you down,” says Gopa. When your partner has got a long list of what she expects from her partner, the only thing you can expect in return is dissonance.
3. Gaslighting or emotional abuse
Gaslighting in a relationship is when your partner invalidates your feelings by saying phrases like, “That’s not what happened, you’re overreacting,” or “You’re crazy to be thinking this way, you need help”, which make you doubt yourself.
One of the clear red flags in a damaged woman is emotional abuse such as this. By wishing to establish control over you, hurting your confidence by attacking you, isolating you, or guilt-tripping you, emotional abuse can often wreak havoc on any relationship.
4. Talking about the ex all the time
“If she makes it look like everything was the ex’s fault and they were the innocent baby in that relationship, you need to watch out,” says Gopa, “Comparing exes, especially with the person they’re currently with, is one of the major red flags in a woman.”
It’s okay if she mentions her exes name in passing when she tells you who introduced her to that show she’s addicted to. But if it seems like she’s trying to fight a case against her ex with you as the jury, it can often mean she has some healing left to do.
5. Pessimist is her middle name
“Everything is against her and everyone is out to get her. The glass is always half-empty and somebody probably poisoned it since she’s always the victim. She’ll always highlight the negative aspects of everyone around her, and her pessimistic outlook on life will make her doubt the strength of your relationship too,” says Gopa.
What are the red flags in a girlfriend? If she finds a way to spin any situation into one that’s victimizing her, it’s an indication that she might be an insecure woman and that that’s something she needs to work on.
6. Not accepting her partner’s relationships with friends and family
Of all the red flags in a relationship with a woman, this issue signifies a whole host of problems like a controlling nature, jealous behavior, or an insecure attachment style. “If she feels that she always needs to be the number one person in her partner’s life, she’s turning a blind eye to the independence her partner may desire.
“If she always feels threatened by the best friends or colleagues or even her partner’s parents who have all been in his/her life for far longer than she has, her nature must be evaluated. It’s one of the biggest red flags in a girl, and can signify a larger issue,” says Gopa.
Related Reading: Fixing a Toxic Relationship – 21 Ways To Heal TOGETHER
7. A lack of empathy
Imagine a situation where what your partner said to you has made you feel disrespected and hurt. Perhaps it was a nasty attack on your insecurities or a belittling remark. When you tell her how what she said hurt you, she’s completely unable/unwilling to empathize with you and doubles down on what she said. Don’t be surprised if you hear, “Stop overreacting, you’re making a big deal out of nothing.” (Remember gaslighting?)
“Not being able to simply say, “I understand and validate what you are feeling, even though I don’t agree with it”, signifies a glaring and troubling lack of empathy. Empathy doesn’t always mean accepting their point of view. For example, I had a client who was always worried that his wife was having a sexual affair, even during the midst of the lockdown, where they both spent every hour of the day in the same apartment.
“Though his doubt and questioning seemed absurd to her, she was able to say, “I understand where this paranoia is coming from and why you might be feeling this way. But I don’t think your line of thinking is justified.” While this degree of empathy can be rare, if your girlfriend just doesn’t have it in her to put herself in your shoes, it’s a glaring red flag,” she adds.
8. Poor conflict resolution skills
Which red flags in a relationship with a woman you spot can highlight the issues you’ll face in the long run. For example, if her idea of conflict resolution is to stonewall you into oblivion, you best believe there’s going to be growing resentment in the relationship that’s eventually going to bring the whole thing tumbling down.
“I had a client who wakes her husband in the middle of the night, banging the door and demanding that he talk to her about what’s been bothering her. Trying to resolve an argument by screaming at your partner at 4 AM, of course, isn’t the most effective way of solving an issue.
“Of course, this isn’t necessarily just one of the red flags in a woman, it goes both ways. The basic agenda is that one partner adopts a very “my way or the highway” sort of approach toward conflict resolution, which doesn’t do anyone any favors,” says Gopa.
9. A toxic equation with her family
What are red flags in a girlfriend? When you’re answering that question, you’re probably only going to think about how she treats you and not consider the nature of her relationship with her parents. Gopa explains why you might need to look at her equation with her family to spot the red flags in a woman.
“If she’s always fighting with her father, the first male figure in her life, that pattern is going to repeat itself. You must then also analyze why her relationship with the family is so unhealthy. Are the parents kind people but she still finds a way to argue and fight and be insecure? In such situations, you know that it’s not the parents, it’s her.
“When she has unhealthy relationships with the primary caregivers, it, in turn, incites the expectations that we talked about, the princess syndrome, where the woman might expect her partner to ‘rescue’ her,” she says.
10. Showing patterns of codependency in relationships
“One of the red flags in a relationship with a woman or even a man that I often see is being extremely codependent and jumping from one relationship to the other very quickly. They don’t know who they are without a relationship, which often signifies needy and clingy behavior,” says Gopa.
When a person believes that they need to be in a relationship to feel normal, it could be one of the red flags of a damaged woman. You’ll often find them suffering from post-breakup depression, which only alleviates once they’re in a new relationship. Such behavior indicates that they value the idea of a relationship more than the person they are with.
11. A relationship that makes you feel burned out
A relationship burnout doesn’t necessarily happen during the initial stages but the signs can often make themselves apparent. Gopa explains what you must be on the lookout for, “If you’re constantly attacked to the point where you feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time, or if you feel like you’re always on guard, you may be headed toward a relationship burnout.
“Are you with someone you wouldn’t be friends with? I always tell people that when you’re looking to be in a relationship, choose someone you’d be friends with. If instead you feel like you don’t have a common value system with this person and you can’t be compatible with them, it’s one of the red flags in a woman, or perhaps your relationship, that you must look out for.”
12. Mental health issues that she refuses to work on
We’ve all got our own issues and challenges to overcome, and just because someone has been diagnosed with a mental health condition doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of love. Even so, it’s no surprise that a relationship with a narcissist isn’t always smooth sailing, and can only thrive when both partners actively work on it.
When the partner with mental health issues refuses to work on themselves or for the betterment of the relationship, it can eventually be what causes it to falter.
“Of course, it is perfectly okay to have mental health issues. What’s important is how much responsibility a person can take for their actions and not use their illness as a crutch. Can they actively work toward managing their symptoms and make it clear that they’re doing all they can to work on themselves and the strength of the relationship?” asks Gopa.
Related Reading: How To Watch Out For The Relationship Red Flags – Expert Tells You
13. There’s no sign of reciprocity
“Does it feel like you’re giving more to the relationship than the other person? Of course, there’s never going to be a 50-50 give and take, but if you think you can’t count on your partner to help you out in an emergency at 3 AM, that’s one of the red flags in a relationship with a woman,” says Gopa.
Reciprocity in a relationship isn’t established by keeping scorecards or keeping tabs on who does what, it is a state of mind that makes itself apparent through the effort someone naturally puts in. When yours starts feeling extremely one-sided, it’s time to reassess the foundation of your dynamic.
Now that you know the answer to what are the red flags in a girlfriend, hopefully, you have a better idea of what needs to be worked on and what’s only a problem in your head. Gopa leaves us with an amusing way of assessing who you might be compatible with and who you should be wary of.
“Share a long, traffic-ridden car ride with this person. When you see how they react in that stressful environment, you see how they’re capable of being, the way they express their emotions around you and how they handle stress. That should tell you everything you need to know,” she says. It’s worth a shot, we’d say.
If our list of the red flags in a relationship with a woman has got you worried about the strength of your dynamic, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists, including Gopa Khan, can help you figure out exactly what your path toward recovery could look like.