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Red Flags in a Relationship: 21 Major Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

So, you’re out on a date with this person you’ve just met. They’re charming, they’re funny, and they’ve got that nice vibe going on. Everything’s peachy until they go ballistic on the waiter for messing up the order. They’re yelling, name-calling, and demanding a free meal. You’re sitting there, shocked and mortified, wondering if this is just a bad day or a glimpse into the abyss.

A red flag, my friend, is like a flashing neon sign screaming that something’s off with the person you’re dating or, if you’re already playing house, in your new relationship. It could be a behavior, an attitude, or a trait that gives you the heebie-jeebies. These red flags are sneaky little devils, especially in the honeymoon phase of a relationship. You might be wearing rose-colored glasses, fueled by love or lust. You might make excuses for them, overlook them, or convince yourself they’ll change or that you can play superhero and fix them.

But here’s the kicker: ignoring these red flags can land you in a world of hurt. They can steer you into unhealthy, toxic, or abusive relationships that can wreck your life. They can shatter your self-esteem and wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.

That’s why it’s crucial to spot these red flags in relationships pronto. The sooner you see them for what they are, the sooner you can figure out your next move. We need to hammer home the importance of this because studies show that young adults are pretty clueless about what a healthy relationship looks like.

In this piece, we’re going to arm you with the knowledge to identify 21 major signs of toxic behavior in relationships. These are red flags that you should never ignore, no matter how head-over-heels you are with your partner. These are dealbreakers that could determine whether your future is filled with joy or misery.

21 Relationship Red Flags to Watch Out For

Look, no relationship is a walk in the park. Just like people, relationships have their own weird quirks and peculiarities. It’s normal to hit a few bumps in the road or see behaviors that might raise an eyebrow or two. Temporary red flag-like behaviors can just be yellow flags. The trick is to tackle these issues head-on and work through them together.

But what happens when these red flags keep popping up? What if, despite giving it your all, these behaviors just don’t get better? That’s when these red flags start to look like flashing sirens, screaming danger. These are the signs that the relationship might be doing more harm than good.

Without further ado, let’s dive into 21 major relationship red flags that you need to keep an eye out for. Spotting these signs early can save you a world of hurt down the line.

When you’re too hopeful to give up on a bad relationship Meme

1) They Treat Service Workers Horribly

One of the first, and easiest to spot, warning sign to keep an eye out for is how your partner treats service workers. This includes waitstaff, retail workers, or anyone busting their hump in a service position. If your partner is rude, dismissive, or condescending towards these folks, it’s a neon sign flashing a lack of empathy and respect. Kindness isn’t a pick-and-choose kind of deal. How they treat others is a mirror reflecting their true character.

2) They Express Anger Through Verbal or Physical Abuse

Verbal and physical abuse are massive red flags that should set off alarm bells. Signs of verbal abuse can include yelling, name-calling, or constant criticism. Physical abuse is any intentional act causing injury or trauma to another person. Both forms of abuse are destructive and can leave scars on your mental and physical health that last a lifetime. Physical abuse, in particular, crosses a line into no man’s land. If you’re on the receiving end of this, get help ASAP. Reach out to social workers who specialize in these cases.

3) They Mock or Humiliate You in Private and in Public

If your partner mocks or humiliates you, whether behind closed doors or out in the open, it’s a major red flag. This behavior is a form of emotional abuse that can chip away at your self-esteem over time. A healthy relationship should make you feel loved and respected, not belittled or embarrassed. Everyone deserves respect and kindness.

4) You’re Hesitant to Introduce Them to Your Friends or Family

Hesitation to introduce your partner to your friends or family can be a sign of a deeper issue lurking beneath the surface. It might indicate that you’re subconsciously picking up on some red flags in your relationship. You might be worried about their behavior, or how they’ll interact with your loved ones. This hesitation is worth paying attention to, as it can reveal underlying problems in your relationship.

How my partner treats my friends/family Meme

5) They Don’t Care About Your Friends or Family

If your partner shows a lack of interest or disregard for your friends or family, it’s a significant red flag waving in the wind. This behavior can indicate a lack of respect for the people who matter to you. In a healthy relationship, both partners should value and respect each other’s social circles.

6) They’re Secretive About Their Past Relationships

Being secretive about past relationships can be a warning sign waving in your face. Sure, everyone has a right to privacy, but when secrecy goes overboard, it can hint that they’re stashing away some skeletons from their past. Open and honest communication is the lifeblood of a relationship, and this includes chatting about past relationships when it’s relevant.

7) They Trash-Talk Their Exes

If your partner consistently badmouths their exes, it’s a red flag flapping in the wind. This behavior can point to a lack of respect and an inability to own up to their role in past relationship screw-ups. It’s crucial to remember that everyone has flaws and has goofed up in their past. A mature individual is able to reflect on these and learn from them, rather than playing the blame game.

8) They’re Evasive About Their Daily Life

Being evasive about daily life can be a red flag. If your partner is consistently vague about their activities, it might suggest that they’re hiding something from you. Transparency is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, and while everyone deserves some level of privacy, consistent evasiveness can be a sign of deeper issues brewing beneath the surface.

9) They Flirt With Other People

If your partner flirts with other people, it’s a significant red flag. This behavior can indicate a lack of respect for you and the boundaries of your relationship. It’s important to have open discussions about what constitutes appropriate behavior within your relationship. If your partner continues to flirt with others despite knowing it stings you, it’s a clear sign of disrespect.

10) They Have a History of Infidelity

Past infidelity can be a major red flag in a relationship. While people can change and past mistakes don’t necessarily predict future behavior, a history of cheating can indicate a pattern. It’s important to have an open and honest discussion about this issue and understand the circumstances before making any decisions.

11) They Struggle With Addiction

Wrestling with addiction is another red flag. Addiction, whether it’s to substances (like drugs or alcohol) or behaviors (like gambling or porn), can have a significant impact on relationships. Signs of addiction can include neglecting responsibilities, changes in behavior, financial issues, and deteriorating health. It’s important to approach this issue with empathy and understanding, but also recognize the potential challenges it can pose to a relationship.

12) They’re Controlling or Possessive

Possessive or controlling behavior is a serious warning sign. This can show up in many ways, such as dictating who you can hang out with, snooping through your phone or emails without permission, hawking over who you’re texting, or making decisions on your behalf without your consent. This behavior is not only disrespectful but can also lead to emotional abuse. It’s borderline manipulative. Everyone deserves to be in a relationship where they feel free and respected.

13) They Gaslight You

Gaslighting is when someone messes with your reality, making you question your own memory, perception, or sanity. It’s a major red flag in a relationship. If your partner consistently denies your experiences or twists facts to fit their narrative, it’s a sign of gaslighting. This behavior can lead to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and self-doubt.

14) They’re Codependent or Clingy

Codependency or clinginess in a relationship is another red flag. The clinical definition is still up in the air, but for our purposes let’s just say codependency is when someone relies excessively on their partner for emotional or psychological support. If your partner depends on you for their self-worth or struggles to spend time apart from you, they might be codependent. Similarly, clinginess can show up as a fear of being alone, constant need for reassurance, or jealousy over your other relationships.

15) They Manipulate You With Love Bombing or Hot and Cold Behavior

Love bombing is when someone showers you with excessive affection and attention to control you. This behavior can be followed by periods of cold detachment, creating a confusing hot and cold dynamic. It’s a major red flag as it can leave you feeling unstable within the relationship. Genuine love and affection are consistent and not used as tools for manipulation.

16) They Say ‘You Never’ or ‘You Always’

If your partner often uses phrases like “You never” or “You always,” it’s a red flag. These absolute statements can be a form of blame-shifting and can create a dynamic where you’re always at fault. It’s important to remember that everyone screws up, and it’s unfair to be constantly blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship.

17) They Cross Your Boundaries

Boundaries are crucial in any relationship. They help each person understand their partner’s needs and expectations which is essential for a healthy relationship. If your partner consistently crosses your boundaries, it’s a major red flag. This behavior shows a lack of respect for your personal space and feelings. It’s important to communicate clearly about your boundaries and expect them to be respected.

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18) They Don’t Support You or Your Goals

Lack of support in a relationship is another red flag. If your partner doesn’t support your personal or professional goals, it can feel like you’re in the relationship alone. A supportive partner will celebrate your successes, help you navigate challenges, and encourage you to pursue your ambitions. If this support is lacking, it might be time to reconsider the relationship.

19) They’re Unreliable or Inconsistent

Unreliability or inconsistency in a relationship is a red flag. If your partner is often late, cancels plans at the last minute, or changes their mind frequently about major decisions, it can create a rollercoaster of instability and insecurity in the relationship. Consistency and reliability are the bricks and mortar for building trust and a strong foundation in a relationship.

20) They Don’t Include You in Their Future Plans

If your partner doesn’t include you in their future plans, it’s a significant red flag. This behavior can indicate that they don’t see a long-term future with you. In a committed relationship, future plans, whether they’re about next week or next year, should be made together like a well-rehearsed dance.

21) You Have Too Different Goals, Values, or Interests

Having different goals, values, or interests can be a red flag in a relationship. While it’s healthy and normal for partners to have individual interests and personal goals, having too many differences can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings as big as a circus. It’s important for partners to share common values and goals to ensure compatibility and mutual growth like two peas in a pod.


So, we’ve just navigated through the stormy seas of 21 major and common relationship red flags. From treating service workers like they’re invisible, to expressing anger through abuse, to being as reliable as a weather forecast, these signs can be flashing warnings of potential icebergs in your relationship.

Remember, spotting these red flags early can save you from sailing into a world of hurt. If you see these signs in your own relationship, don’t just sweep them under the rug. It’s crucial to face these issues head-on and seek help if needed.

We hope this guide has been a lighthouse for you. If you have any experiences or battles related to these red flags, we’re all ears. Feel free to share your stories in the comments below. Your experiences can be a lifeboat for others who might be sailing through the same storm. Let’s navigate and grow together!

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