Love, trust, respect, and good communication are the foundations of a healthy bond. Without these elements, a relationship ceases to exist. If you feel your equation with your partner is heading in an unhealthy direction, take a step back and make note of a few silent red flags in a relationship. These are warning signs that usually show themselves at the onset, but are overlooked by most partners because they come across as trivial issues that do not need much attention.
A study concluded that while validation and negotiation are important for conflict resolution in a relationship, “emotionally intense strategies” can also prove to be beneficial in some cases. We’re all aware of the obvious red flags like excessive control over a partner, abuse, lack of respect, manipulation, and extreme jealousy, to name a few. But what do silent red flags in a relationship mean? To answer this question and understand what the silent red flags in a person or relationship are, we spoke to consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (MS Psychology), who is a gender and relationship management expert.
9 Silent Red Flags In A Relationship No One Talks About
According to Jaseena, “Silent red flags in a relationship are those that are not as obvious or jarring as the generic ones like abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting. They aren’t visible but are as toxic as the generic red flags. Silent or covert red flags can be confusing because you cannot really point a finger and say that your partner is emotionally unavailable or abusive. Such red flags include not being thankful or apologetic, over-possessiveness, expecting you to make them your priority but not doing the same in return, and giving you threats or ultimatums.”
The silent red flags in a relationship are those that have existed since the beginning but not given any importance, because they’re usually seen as minor flaws that one accepts in a partner. People continue to be with such partners because they feel they can compromise and overlook these red flags by balancing them with the love and affection that their partner showers upon them.
The subtle red flags in a man or woman are indicators of the existing incompatibility between partners and can foretell the health and longevity of a relationship. If you are able to recognize the silent red flags in a woman or a man you’re dating, you will be able to address them, work together to get rid of those elements, and build a healthy relationship with them. Here are 9 silent red flags in a relationship that no one talks about but should:
1. Your partner often tells you how bad they are at relationships
If the person you love and want to be with always jokes about how bad they are at relationships or how they would make for a terrible partner because they are not ‘relationship material’, then the first thing you should know is that it is not a joke. Instead, it’s a warning sign for you to run as far as you can from this person. It’s one of the silent red flags in a relationship that no one talks about or hides it under the garb of humor.
Jaseena explains, “If your partner keeps saying that they are not the right person for you, or not the right person to commit or get emotionally attached to, know that this kind of behavior is a slippery slope. It’s a silent red flag that they’re not committed to you (or that they are not capable of committing to anyone) and that the relationship will only lead to disappointment in the future.”
When a person says that they suck at relationships, it’s a clear hint at the hurt you might experience in the future. This is one ‘joke’ you should be taking seriously, especially in the initial stages of the relationship when everything feels like a dream and you only want to put your best foot forward and ignore all the red flags of an unhealthy relationship. This could be a behavior pattern that your partner gets away with by using that joke later as an “I told you I’m bad at it” excuse to end the relationship.
Related Reading: How To Watch Out For The Relationship Red Flags – Expert Tells You
2. Silent red flags in a relationship – Negging
According to Dictionary.com, negging someone implies “the practice of giving backhanded compliments and generally making comments that express indifference toward another person (usually a woman) in an attempt to seduce that person.” A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that hostile criticism negatively affects the functioning of a relationship and offers less satisfaction to those involved.
This is one of the most overlooked red flags in a person. Negging is a manipulation tactic where a person uses backhanded compliments or comments to insult their partner or make them feel like they aren’t good enough. It’s a flirtatious technique used to attack their self-esteem and confidence just before seducing or expressing romantic interest in them.
Jaseena explains, “Observe if your partner makes you feel like you’re not good enough. Are they always comparing you to others? Do they make you feel like you’re not worthy of their love? If your partner makes you feel like you don’t deserve them, it’s a red flag. If they make you feel insecure and then make you feel like you need their validation or approval, it’s one of the silent red flags in a relationship that you shouldn’t ignore.”
Statements like “You’re fat but handsome”, “You look beautiful. I never thought you could pull it off with that body type”, “You drive well for a woman”, or “Congratulations on the promotion! I’m surprised you get along with your boss” are examples of negging or “constructive criticism” as manipulators like to falsely call it. The aim is to hurt your self-worth and make you feel as if you need your partner’s approval. Don’t ignore it because it is a toxic trait and a form of manipulation.
3. Your partner is always late
Being late is one of those silent red flags in a relationship that is not even considered an issue to stress over. But it should. If there’s a genuine reason your partner is late, it’s understandable. Maybe they overslept one day, had a hectic day at work, or a family emergency to take care of. There could be several other reasons, even related to their mental health, and it’s absolutely understandable. But if it becomes a repetitive pattern, you have a problem.
Being late consistently and not showing remorse is disrespectful and suggests that your partner might be losing interest in the relationship. It is, more often than not, a choice, and revealing of an indifferent attitude toward your partner. It not only shows that you don’t value or respect your partner’s time but also reeks of lack of effort from your end to honor the plans both of you made.
If your partner can’t make the bare minimum effort to show up on time, are you sure they are going to put in the effort to make the relationship work? Are you sure they are as interested in you as you are? If they can’t respect your time and effort (which is basic in a relationship), what makes you think they respect you as an individual? It’s one of the red flags of an unhealthy relationship that must not be ignored.
4. The relationship is moving too fast
According to Jaseena, “If a relationship is moving too fast, it means that you’ve probably not given this whole thing a thought. Your partner might have rushed you into the relationship so you didn’t get time to think if you’ve made the right decision or not. You might not have had a chance to understand or analyze what is happening or why it is happening so fast.”
It feels great to see a whirlwind romance come to its fruitful conclusion in movies. But when you’re faced with a fast-moving relationship in real life, it is always advisable to take a step back and analyze your feelings. When things move too quickly, people tend to ignore the silent red flags in a relationship and can’t see the worse side of their partners because they’re still riding high on love. The intensity of the attraction is too high for them to understand if they’re truly in love or even compatible with their partner.
We’re not saying all whirlwind romances fail but moving too fast in a relationship could be a silent red flag that you didn’t see coming. Such romances tend to fizzle out as quickly as they start. You think that the relationship will always have the same intensity and love but the fact is that you’re rushing things with a person you barely know. You might feel like it’s a dream come true but it’s best to take it slow and devote time to getting to know each other instead of jumping on the relationship or marriage bandwagon.
Related Reading: When Is The Honeymoon Phase Over? 15 Signs To Watch Out For
5. Your partner is confused about their feelings
This is one of the major red flags in a person. Jaseena says, “Before coming to any conclusion, always ask yourself – “Are you feeling confused about the commitment of your partner? Are your partner’s actions leaving you puzzled about the status of your relationship?” If the answer is yes, then these are the silent red flags in a relationship that your partner might not feel the same way for you as you feel for them. They are confused about their feelings toward you.”
They could be emotionally unavailable, scared of commitment, breadcrumbing, taking your future plans casually, or not showing any interest in the relationship. Jaseena explains further, “If your partner is always talking in the present and refuses to entertain any talk related to marriage or building a future together, then it’s clear that they don’t want to be with you for the long haul. It’s a clear sign that they do not want to commit to you for good.”
If you value the relationship, you will talk about the course it takes in the future, but if your partner is not interested, it’s one of the subtle red flags in a man or woman. If they avoid talking about the future of the relationship, they may even wish for it to be over soon.
6. Red flags in a person – angry outbursts
There are people who are short-tempered and then there are those who have absolutely no control over their emotions when things go wrong. If your partner is known for their angry outbursts from time to time, it’s a sign that they do not know how to regulate their emotions. Anger can ruin the most loving relationships because people do not have control over what they say when they are angry and, as a result, tend to humiliate and hurt the person they love.
Anger and emotional instability are one of those silent red flags in a woman or man that you must not ignore because they scream disrespect. It is not just an outburst, it’s verbal and emotional abuse directed toward you and that is definitely not a sign of a healthy relationship. It is normal to have arguments or different opinions. But if your partner gets angry at the drop of a hat, then know that you’re in a toxic relationship.
Jaseena says, “If you’ve been having a lot of arguments in the relationship and each one of them ends with either or both partners getting angry or throwing a fit, then that’s a silent red flag you shouldn’t ignore. If you’re unable to have a normal conversation with each other or reach an amicable solution to your problems, know that it’s a toxic behavior pattern. You should be able to sort out your differences and not have sudden, angry outbursts all the time.”
7. Frequent lying
If your partner is frequently lying to you, it’s one of the red flags in a person you shouldn’t dismiss. We’re all guilty of lying at some point in our relationship and lives. We’ve probably told a lot of white lies to our partners. But if it becomes a pattern and you notice them being dishonest consistently, know that it’s one of the red flags of an unhealthy relationship. Lying to your partner over and over again destroys trust in the relationship.
Jaseena explains, “If your partner feels the need to compromise on their honesty in the relationship and hide facts or things from you saying that it was just a white lie, it’s a red flag and a sign of a toxic, unhealthy relationship. Trying to hide even the most trivial of things means that your partner is not being honest with you. It is proof that you cannot trust them.”
If they are lying to you about their whereabouts, finances, or family, it’s a red flag. If they’ve fabricated so many lies about their life, what makes you think they will remain faithful to you in the future? How can you be sure that they won’t cheat on you? Or maybe they are already cheating on you but you have no idea, since they are so good at lying and hiding proof of their actions.
8. Date nights are rare, you only talk when it’s important
Do you remember the last time you went on a date? When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your partner? When was the last time you said “I love you” to each other? Or do you only talk when it’s necessary? Spending quality time with your partner is essential to keep the spark alive in the relationship. Expressing your love to your partner, strengthening your bond with them is key to a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
But if those date nights have become rare to the extent that you don’t even remember the last time you went on one, then it’s one of those silent red flags in a relationship. If your conversations are limited to work, paying bills, taking care of kids, or any other important matter, it’s a matter of concern. If you’ve stopped taking out time for each other, sending those lovey-dovey and caring messages, or complimenting each other, then it’s a sign that you need to revive your relationship.
Related Reading: 9 Expert Tips To Know If Your Partner Is Lying About Cheating
9. You avoid difficult discussions and don’t express yourself
One of the silent red flags in a relationship is partners avoiding confrontation or conflict. Your partner should be your safe space, providing you a sense of comfort. If you hesitate to have difficult conversations or express yourself in front of them, then it’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship. You avoid talking about your issues and concerns, don’t express your needs, hesitate to show vulnerability, or keep secrets from your partner.
None of these behaviors are healthy, and will only make the relationship toxic and difficult to sustain. It will destroy trust, give way to lack of respect, and cause communication problems in the relationship. Both partners might end up resenting each other. Not being able to express your desires or talk about your dreams, concerns, and fears with your partner is a major red flag you shouldn’t ignore. “Avoiding difficult conversations will lead you nowhere,” says Jaseena.
- If your partner frequently lies to you, know that it is a silent red flag
- Angry outbursts, communication gaps, or running away from difficult conversations and conflict are silent red flags in a relationship
- If your partner is confused or unsure about their feelings and avoids talking about the future, then it’s a matter of concern
- Giving backhanded compliments, arriving late, rare date nights are all silent red flags that you should be worried about
Can you relate to most of these silent red flags in a relationship? If you can, then we suggest that you talk to your partner about these issues and work toward saving your relationship, before these silent red flags become the reasons for separation. However, if you realize that these issues cannot be worked upon or that you are in an abusive dynamic, you should immediately seek help and walk out of it as soon as you can. Nothing good has ever come out of staying with a toxic partner.
According to Jaseena, “Know that it is not your fault. It is best to leave such a toxic person because they will not make any amends to their behavior. Their unhealthy patterns will only aggravate as you start to bond with each other more or move in together. If you’re already living together or are married, you will have to draw certain healthy relationship boundaries and make it clear what is acceptable and what is not.”
But if you do decide to give your relationship another shot and are looking for help, we recommend seeking couple’s therapy. A professional will be able to get to the root cause of such behavioral patterns and help you and your partner see things from a new perspective using different therapy techniques. If you are stuck in a similar situation and need help, Bonobology’s panel of licensed and experienced therapists is only a click away.