Relationships come in all kinds both intimate and not. We spend our entire lives navigating countless unique relationships with many different people. Each of these relationships is distinct from the other, contributing to your life like the various pieces of a lifelong puzzle. YOUR puzzle. You may think that if you were in an unhealthy relationship with someone, you would know. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It can be difficult, especially when you may be new to some relationships, to know exactly what is going on. This could be your first relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend and you might have nothing to compare your partner’s behavior against. Or maybe you have seen unsettling behavior between someone you love and their relationship partner.
You, and those you love, deserve to be respected and treated in the right ways. Being in a relationship and recognizing red flags is not always easy. Red flags are intuitive indicators, warnings of danger or a potential problem to come. They can also help you process what you are feeling. Trusting what you feel can be empowering. It is important to note that red flag behavior can come at any point in a relationship, and not every red flag is as visible as physical abuse.
Everyone deserves to be safe and free from abuse in relationships. Many people can end up in unhealthy relationships despite warning signs that their partner was engaging in, often referred to as “red flag” behavior. When the possibility of new love is in our midst or if we are navigating a complex relationship with a friend or family member, it can be hard to see the red flags.
Below we have compiled a brief list of some relationship red flag indicators that may help you identify an unhealthy relationship:
Red Flag: They don’t like your friends, or they are rude to your friends/family
In an unhealthy relationship, the other party may want to control you. This could be controlling where you go, who you talk to or who you hang out with. Do you ever feel like you are made to choose between your friends/family and your relationship with them? This is a sign of manipulation and can be destructive to a relationship. Consequently, this could make you feel lonely and distant from your loved ones.
Red Flag: They refuse to communicate with you or they are quick to jump into an argument
If someone you are in a relationship with finds it difficult to talk to you about any issues or differences you both have, you may be in an unhealthy relationship. You should both be able to listen to each other in a calm and respectable way. They may give you the silent treatment if they find it hard to communicate or become irritable. Communication is the corner-stone of any relationship and mutual respect is a major foundation of a happy relationship.
Red Flag: They push the boundaries of their control
Does your new boyfriend or girlfriend refuse to stop tickling you when you tell them to stop? Do they touch you in seemingly innocent ways when you have asked for personal space? This might be a sign that they don’t respect your body and could try to push those boundaries in the future.
Does someone in your life get upset when you don’t text them back quickly enough or make a big deal about it? If you find that your social circle is getting smaller or your interactions with others are limited this could be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Likewise, if someone you are in a relationship with demands private information like your social media account passwords or email passwords, this could be a red flag. Some people have the ability to make those they love feel guilty for keeping things private. These are not people you want in your life. Everyone deserves the right to privacy.
Also watch out for gaslighting, which is to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. In an unhealthy relationship, the other party may argue a lot and chances are, it brings a lot of stress and misery into your life. If someone you love always pushes the blame on you or makes you feel guilty about something you didn’t do, this is another red flag.
Red Flag: They aren’t there for you when you need them to be and they can’t apologize for bad behavior
A healthy relationship means both parties can rely on each other in times of need. If your relationship partner can rely on you but you cannot rely on them, this is a big relationship red flag. Both of you should be able to depend on each other. If it seems like they are emotionally unavailable, they probably are.
Alternatively, your friends and family should have positive things to say about your relationship partner. If one clashes with another this could just be a coincidence or personality differences. However, when all of your family and friends are warning you about someone, there may be more to the relationship than you think. It could be worth listening to.
In a relationship, both partners need to be able to accept blame and apologize for it. Without apologies, the fights and disagreements will remain unresolved, which could lead to resentment and stress. If someone you love refuses to apologize to you and doesn’t seem to accept your version of events, that could put a long-term strain on your relationship.
Red Flag: Their attitude is constantly changing, and they treat their family/friends poorly
Does someone you love spend an entire day being cruel to you and nearly pushing you to your emotional limit, then abruptly turn on the charm withzero explanation or apology? This is a cycle to stay away from. Keep your eye on how they treat their family/friends as well, everyone struggles with relationships from time to time but if they can bear to be harsh and ungrateful with those they love, what does that say for your future? Remember, a positive relationship partner will never hold you to a double standard. Your partner should be able to accept responsibility for any issues they cause.
Red Flag: You cannot rely on them, or they don’t publicly acknowledge the relationship
Your partner needs to be someone who you can depend on, talk to when you need them, turn to when crisis or hard times hits. An unhealthy relationship characteristic to look out for in your relationship partner is if they cannot be there for you in your time of need and if they make you feel awful when you go to them. Then it is definitely not a healthy relationship. If they are not there for you especially when you are in need, this is a bad sign.
Do you ever feel like you need to keep your relationship a secret for the other person? Some people simply don’t like splashing their personal life on social media, but that’s different from hiding your partnership. A big red flag you do not want to miss
Red Flag: They think all of their ex’s are crazy and won’t share anything too personal with you
Obviously not all relationships end pleasantly, but your relationship shouldn’t refer to ALL of their ex’s as crazy. Do they hide things from you or are they not truthful about their past relationships? This could be a very bad sign. In a healthy relationship, partners are open and honest with each other and can discuss their past and their past relationships too. Healthy relationships do not involve keeping secrets from each other, good or bad. If your partner keeps secrets from you and does not open up about their past, these are indicators of an unhealthy relationship and red flags in your relationship.
Support and Getting Help:
If you read this article and recognize some of these red flags in your relationship talk to someone you trust and know that there are resources and supports out there to help you decide what you need to do to stay safe and free from abuse. New Journeys lists many of these support in our “Resources” page as well as in the programs and services database.
All of our New Journeys articles are written for you, to connect with you and give you resources to help you in your journey in a good way.