What are red flags exactly, and what does it mean if you spot one or even more than one in your relationship?
Are they real signs of danger that your relationship may be in trouble, or is there still a chance for you and your partner to work things out? Read also my related red flag guide: “TOP5 Online Dating Red Flags You Should Never Ignore”.
When you first start looking into red flags in relationships, you may become too obsessed with them and try to find one around every corner, especially if you are experiencing difficulties in your life that may be relevant to your own self-image, your prospects, and other issues that may influence the way you view your surroundings.
On the other hand, there may be real red flags present that you may not be aware of, so there are two crucial things about red flags to understand in order to identify them — what a possible red flag is and when you are in the right emotional space to look for red flags in your relationship.
Let’s dig in and discuss how you can improve your life and relationship by better understanding red flags.
Step One Starts With You
To make sure the red flags you see are not created within your own emotional state or from a personal perspective, it’s important to step aside and look at your relationship as an outsider. If you’re experiencing intense emotions, then stepping back is very important to make sure what you’re feeling does not ‘create’ a red flag, so to speak.
This is by no means a generalization, but if you are deeply emotionally invested in a partnership and you have developed strong feelings of anger, neglect, or sadness over time, then it can cloud your vision without you realizing it.
So, even if you don’t think you’re subjective, making a conscious effort to step into a little boat and leave the island of love to observe it from a distance is a wise decision.
Now you have space to examine your own feelings and determine whether they influence any red flags you may see. Additionally, by reviewing yourself first, you know that you’ve placed yourself out of the equation so that you can examine the situation with absolute objective ease.
Now that we’re ready, let’s look at the most common red flags in relationships.
Important Red Flags You Should Take Notice Of
Here are really important relationship red flags you should never ignore:
Red Flag #1: Communication issues
Communication is one of the fundamental aspects of a healthy relationship, so if there are any problems with being honest and open towards each other, then this should be considered a red flag. An example is being afraid to tell your partner you don’t agree with them because you feel that it may cause conflict or that they may be angry.
Another example is if there is no communication between you and your partner and none of you have the urge to communicate with each other about anything specific.
It can either be trying to prevent a fight or just a cold silence between the two of you that are only broken with words when you have to, like “did you buy toilet paper.”
Take note here, though that if you are in one of these situations, try to go back to where it started and figure out why it’s still going on. For example, did you have a fight and things just cooled down after that until there was no more communication?
Alternatively, did your partner say something that offended you and now you’re afraid to speak up when you feel the need to in case it happens again?
These situations can both be red flags, but they must first be dealt with. If you try to speak openly and honestly to your partner about what’s bothering you and it’s not helping, then it is a clear, red flag.
Red Flag #2: Possessiveness
There is nothing wrong with feeling that your partner belongs to you and that you want everyone to know this— especially when you’re still a new couple and you’re in your honeymoon phase.
However, there are limits to possessive behavior, and if you’re not acting inappropriately towards other people that your partner may see as competition, they should allow you to enjoy your life and form new friendships.
That being said, you need to make sure that you’re not disrespecting your partner — body language can be very telling. If you know that you’re not the flirtatious type and that you did not act suggestively in any way, but your partner is still overreacting, then this is a definite red light.
Overly possessive behavior can lead to uncontrollable anger and even abuse, so if you are in this situation, make sure you and your partner either try to sort it out or get out of the relationship. Your partner cannot deny you being social if you’re not being disrespectful towards them.
Red Flag #3: Different goals for the future
You may not realize that this will become an issue at the beginning of the relationship because both of you are still infatuated and very much in love. As your relationship grows, you start to think about the future, and with that comes your goals and aspirations.
You may even know each other’s aspirations about the future from early on in the relationship, but it will only start making sense later on that, in order for the relationship to work, one of you needs to change.
Who’s going to do that?
If anything, it’s both of your responsibilities to equality adapt, but this is equally difficult, which is why different goals can be seen as a red light from an early stage in the relationship.
Change can mean leaving what you know, and mostly, only one of you will expect the other to change, which is the crucial issue. If you can work past this, then you may have one of the strongest foundations for your future relationships.
However, nobody is usually prepared to just change their beliefs, habits, or lifestyle, or even more! Therefore, consider this a warning sign and talk about it when you feel that the situation is starting to get serious.
Red Flag #4: A short temper
A short temper is never a good sign, but it can be normal except if your partner had the worst day of your life where they had to stand in line in the rain to get important documents, a bird pooped on their head, someone tried to steal their wallet, and while they were on your way to their car, someone bumped into your their light.
Let’s be honest — it is possible to maintain your temper in a situation like this — at least externally — but if they can’t and as long as they don’t take it out directly on their partner, their frustration is completely understandable.
However, if your partner is consistently short-tempered and you are at the receiving end, meaning, that you have to take all the aggression while your partner is still civil towards other individuals in the environment.
This is a serious warning sign. For example, you and your partner go to a social gathering with friends, and your partner forgets their wallet at home. They immediately take it out on you and blame you for not reminding them and tells all your friend how stupid you are for not reminiding them.
This aggressive attitude is unacceptable and, if this happens often, it’s best to make a swift decision and leave if your partner is abusive.
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Red Flag #5: Little white lies
Little white lies don’t stay little or white for very long. There are some lies that are permissible, like when your partner doesn’t tell you that they really have a bad stomach issue and just struggled in the restroom — we can all understand that.
However, when your partner disappears for a certain amount of time, and they do it again and again, and each time they’re gone for longer but come up with the same excuse, then you have a crystal clear red light in front of you.
If you’ve tried calling them during this time and they are either dismissive or not answering the phone, it’s time to see the red light. The only way to solve this is by confronting your partner, and let’s be honest, if you can tell that your partner is not straightforward about what’s happening, it’s time to cut the cord.
There are quite a few red flags one can associate with intimate relationships. The ones above are the most common; however, just as easy as they are to spot, they can also be clouded by your own judgment.
This is why it’s so important for you to focus on staying objective when looking for these red flags; not because you think your partner did nothing wrong of because you are trying to convince yourself that there is nothing wrong with the relationship, but because, in those rare cases, it happens that you look through a cloud of smoke that is your own emotions and may see things that doesn’t exist.
For the health of both you and your partner, being in a clear space when looking for red flags is the best way to go.
Sometimes, you may find that they are still just as obvious even when you distance yourself, and other times, you may realize that you may want to assess your own feelings and perceptions before moving forward. It’s completely up to you.