You’ve probably seen the memes. I agree that the correct usage of the word “you” and a high-priced cup coffee are my go-tos. Don’t get me started about people who put pineapple on pizza. Immediate swipe left.
But jokes aside there are legitimate red flags that should not be ignored. While maintaining a relationship is not easy, it’s important to be open to compromise and sacrifice. However, you shouldn’t give up your needs or your happiness. Relationship red flags are often easy to overlook or ignore when we’re new in love. However, they are usually obvious as soon as the fact.
We’ve reached out to the experts to help you identify common red flags in your relationship and offer advice on how to handle them.
What are Relationship Red Flags
You’re probably familiar with the “Red Flag” or “Dealer” game. However, some red flags are subjective. Jessica January Behr Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and founder at Behr Psychology in New York City, says that most of them are specific to the individual and their “values and desires and preferences”. For example, a person may find not being religious a problem but it might be a dealbreaker for another.
What we consider a red flag may change over time. Dr. Behr says, “What was a red flag yesterday might not be one tomorrow.” She explains that “some common red flags people report are communication, values and judgment.”
Sometimes, we hear a warning sign from someone, whether it’s through their words or actions. It could take a few dates or years to hear the alarm depending on the person’s behavior.
It’s very common to overlook these red flags when we are blinded by love, according to Susan Trombetti (CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking), matchmaker. Trombetti says that people can become emotionally charged and disregard the red flags at the beginning. Or they may find a way of deceiving themselves to reduce the impact. Sometimes, they don’t want the reality to be faced. They may miss them at times if they are too picky or lack boundaries. Sometimes they are only apparent after a relationship has ended. She says, “You can clearly see them with hindsight and many people [realize] that the warnings were there.”
Here are some of the most toxic behavior in modern dating that experts recommend should alarm you. Some can be dealt with through communication, depending on their nature and your feelings about them. Others, however, should be treated as deal-breakers.
1. Love bombing
Ury says that “love bombing” is a sign your partner is getting very invested in your relationship early on. The love bomber is a form of manipulation. They talk about your future and make grandiose promises of their love. Only to get you hooked and then leave you feeling broken. This is a common behavior among narcissists. It also goes hand in hand with other harmful relationship traits such as gaslighting or emotional abuse.
2. Social media obsession
Ury warns against being too involved in someone’s social media profiles and followings, even though they have become a huge part of our daily lives. This can indicate that the person is self-absorbed or insecure, according to 74% of Hinge users.
3. Communication problems
Communication is an essential pillar of any relationship. We all know this. Dr. Behr says that if your partner is absent, or doesn’t listen to you when you speak, or doesn’t reply to your messages or texts, it could be a sign they are distracted or disconnected. Step 1: Talk to your partner and try to understand their communication styles.
4. Controlling jealousy
It is quite common for a couple to be jealous of each other. Trombetti warns that if your partner becomes controlling or possessive about your plans, your clothes, your social life, and your friendships, it could be an indication of emotional abuse.
5. Negative relationships with family and friends
Dr. Behr suggests that a lack in family relationships or talking negatively about friends and families may be cause to concern, particularly if these are important things to you. Ury suggests that you give your partner the benefit of doubt, and ask them why it is happening before making a decision. Ury says that while their upbringing may have made it difficult for them to be close with their family, they have worked hard to build a strong “chosen family” in their circle of friends.
6. Extreme emotions
Unmanageable emotions or a tendency to fly off the handle are red flags. Trombetti says that if someone responds with uncontrollable anger or “silent treatment”, it could indicate future abusive (physical and emotional) behavior. Trombetti also said that a lack empathy could indicate that they are void of emotion or care. This means that you want someone who is in control of their emotions and can adapt to the situation.
7. Substance abuse or alcoholism
You may be dating someone who has a problem with alcohol. In this instance, a serious conversation is the first step. It’s a dealbreaker if your partner refuses to get help for their binge drinking problems. If your partner can recognize the problem and gets help, it could strengthen your relationship.
Gaslighting is an increasingly popular topic in modern dating. It basically means that they place the blame on you for something they did, or hold you accountable for how they responded to a situation. Trombetti says, “It’s just an attempt to blow you up. It makes you crazy.” Gaslighting is a manipulative technique that can make you feel insecure and doubt your sanity. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and get out of the relationship.
9. Abhorrent behavior
Although some red flags are examples of emotional abuse, it is important to reiterate: If someone verbally, emotionally or physically abuses you or puts your life in danger, you need to get out of their way as quickly as possible. Dr. Behr recommends that you seek any help you may need. These are red flags that shouldn’t be addressed in a relationship. It is not a red signal that you are in danger, but a stop sign.
How to handle relationship red flags
Dr. Behr strongly recommends that you end a relationship with a partner who is abusive or places you in danger. This is your signal to end the relationship. However, you may not need to confront your partner if your partner is abusive or puts your life in danger. Experts recommend a few steps that you can take to determine if this is something that can actually be resolved.
Red flags should never be ignored
Experts agree that if you spot something that is not right or makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. Your mind will flag the problem. Dr. Behr explains that signs need to be understood. This is not an easy task. Ury says that sometimes we overlook red flags in relationships because we want it to work. You might get so wrapped up in your relationship that you forget about them.
Trombetti concludes that they are an opportunity to take a step back, evaluate the situation and decide whether or not you want to continue investing in this person.
You can check-in with yourself
After identifying an act or behavior that is a red flag, it is time to reflect on your inner world. While you should not compromise your needs, there is also the possibility that you are being harsh with your partner. “Take a moment to ask yourself if you are being judgmental or if this is a real issue.”
It’s okay to talk it out
It’s time for you to talk to your partner if the problem is still troubling. Dr. Behr says, “Let your partner understand if your behavior or emotions are unacceptable or unsustainable for you.” He also suggests that it is possible for your partner to be unaware of the effects their actions have on others and not malicious.
Sometimes, we make assumptions based on past experiences and misinterpret someone’s words or actions. Dr. Behr says that asking questions and sharing our own experiences can be helpful. Your partner can learn more about you by sharing your vulnerability and understandings. This will help them to be more honest with themselves.
Dr. Behr also points out that people have different love languages, and your partner might not be able to show love the way you want. Being open and asking for what you want is the only way to overcome this disconnect. Dr. Behr says that communication can help you to gain new understanding, tolerance or acceptance of the red flags, which will allow the relationship to grow and continue.
Abuse is an automatic deal-breaker, and it does not require communication.
Dr. Behr says that if something “disturbs you peace enough to change the way you behave,” it may be time to end the partnership. If you have not communicated with the individual, expressed your vulnerability and requested what you need, it could be that you aren’t compatible.
Dr. Behr suggests that if you aren’t super invested it might be better to cut your losses or look elsewhere. Dr. Behr says that a red flag is often a sign that you and your partner are not compatible. That’s perfectly fine!
How to spot red flags better for next time
We often see red flags when the love-spell fog has worn off in a new relationship. How many times did you spot a red flag after a relationship ended? (For me, it’s more than I would like to admit.) There are several ways you can increase your red flag radar if you feel the same.
Ury recommends that you make a list of red flags that you have seen in the past. This is especially important if they are something you tend to ignore. Ury suggests that you “run in opposite direction” the next time you see this same trait in a potential partner. Ury states that the sooner you recognize a red flag, both you and your partner will save time. Remember that relationships are a learning process. Take what you learn from one and transfer it to the next.
Bottom line: Don’t ignore a red flag in your relationship. It’s time to confront it and ask yourself why it bothers. Then, communicate your concerns with your partner.