In this article we are going to talk about the relationship red flags you should never ignore, according to experts.
If they say love is blind, there is a reason.
Many people can’t see their partner’s faults when they’re falling in love with them; or they see those defects, but are unwilling to recognize them. And this is how many toxic relationships develop over time.
Remember that Money Heist scene in which Raquel Murillo describes how her ex-husband slowly became abusive towards her?
This is what she told the professor,
“Toxic relationships don’t begin with abuse. If it was like that, no one would be in a relationship with someone who is abusive. In fact, it’s all the opposite. At the beginning you fall in love with someone charming, intelligent, who makes you feel the center of the universe.”
How Everything Begins: Love Bombing
I think this is one of the most accurate descriptions of what actually happens at the beginning of abusive relationships. This dynamic is more commonly referred to as love bombing.
As therapist Keischa Pruden explains, “Love bombing is when someone is extra attentive and loving with you. They love everything you do.”
Love bombing is when someone showers you with attention and compliments, adore you without even knowing you, and it usually feels too good to be true.
“While this seems romantic and may appeal to most of us, this behavior can also be a grooming behavior for a narcissist. Narcissists in relationships use love bombing to lure people into their manipulative web, gain their trust, and then slowly tear the person down emotionally” Pruden says.
It’s often because of this first love-bombing phase that many can’t see red flags later on and that abuse occurs.
As Dr. Brenda Wade explains, “red flags are not always so easy to see in the beginning of a relationship. The two individuals are caught up in the magic of new love and flags are oftentimes missed or overlooked.”
And as therapist Ashera De Rosa mentioned, “It goes a lot deeper than whether or not they call all of their exes crazy or are rude to the wait staff, although those are certainly red flags. As a relationship progresses, it’s important to check in with yourself about how you feel about how you’re being treated.”
Here are nine important relationship red flags you should never ignore, according to relationship experts.
Relationship Red Flag #1: You and Your Partner Never Have Arguments
One of the worst red flags in a relationship, is lack of arguments.
A partner who never argues with you might sound like a great thing. However, as Pruden explains, this may also be an indication of a couple of things:
- Your mate suppresses anger until it explodes, more than likely at an inopportune moment;
- Your significant other may have learned to be silent from abusive relationships in the past and feel they have no power in your relationship.
“Either scenario is not healthy for them or your relationship,” Pruden says.
Relationship Red Flag #2: Your Partner Makes You Feel Guilty for Spending Time With Your Family and Friends
A huge relationship red flag is when your partner gets upset when you spend time with your family and friends.
And this is not just a bad sign, it’s also lack of respect. And a huge sign of lack of trust.
As Marcuetta Sims explains, “When they try to make you feel bad about spending time with other people, especially friends and family that were in your life prior to the relationship starting, that is a red flag.”
Obviously, it’s healthy to make your relationship with your partner one of your top priorities.
However, as Sims explains, “While your romantic relationship is significant, you are not expected to be fully consumed by the relationship, especially not being pressured to do that by your partner or told that you are hurting them because of your other relationships. This can also apply to platonic friendships.”
Relationship Red Flag #3: They Don’t Allow You to Express Your Thoughts, Feelings or Emotions
A major red flag in a relationship is when your partner won’t allow you to express your thoughts, feelings or emotions.
As therapist Tatyana Dyachenko explains, “Communication is the key to any successful relationship and if you’re not allowed to express yourself in a safe way then that is a problem.”
As Dyachenko mentions, something you should ask yourself is, “What happens when you try to communicate your feelings with your partner? If they get defensive, try and shut you down or make it seem like you’re crazy, then that is a big red flag. If you truly care about someone you want to listen to them and give them the time of day.”
Relationship Red Flag #4: Their Relationship With Their Family Is Contentious
The relationship we have with our family members may indirectly affect our relationship with our significant other.
This also means that if we have a toxic relationship with one of our parents or with a sibling, we might tend to replicate certain dynamics of that relationship when interacting with our significant other.
As Pruden explains, “While this may feel like it won’t affect you, trust me, it will. Why? As children, we model what we see. We bring that behavior into our adulthood and continue to engage in it until the pain of it outweighs its usefulness. Ultimately, what you see as dysfunction in your significant other family’s dynamic may appear in your relationship as well.”
Relationship Red Flag #5: They Are Unable to Say Sorry
As Carmel Jones explains, being unable to recognize your own mistakes and apologize for them is a warning sign.
Picture this, you call your partner out on something they did and that bothered you; instead of giving you an apology, they get highly defensive and make you feel guilty for bringing that up. That’s generally not a good sign.
As Jones explains, “This is a sign of emotional immaturity. Healthy relationships come with conflict, but what makes a relationship healthy is the ability to resolve that conflict without getting defensive or downright mean. If your partner never apologizes and always gets defensive when you bring up the things that bother you, that’s a big red flag.”
#6: They Don’t Want You to Post Certain Things on Social Media
If you are afraid of posting that story on Instagram because it might upset your partner, then you might be in an unhealthy, abusive relationship.
As Jones mentions, “This is a modern form of emotional abuse and control. You might even find it sweet or endearing at first when your partner doesn’t want you to post something on social media, but it should be considered a big red flag. What you post is up to you and you alone. They shouldn’t have a say in it.”
#7: They Gaslight You
One of the worst relationship red flags is gaslighting.
As trauma therapist Kimberly Wallace explains, “Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that occurs when the perpetrator exercises a specific form of manipulation that causes their partner, to question their own reality or memory.”
Some examples of this may be:
- a partner being verbally abusive with you and then denying it happened later,
- a partner sharing with you a secret and denying it months later,
- your partner using your own insecurities to prove their point or make you believe something that’s not true,
- your partner telling you did something which you know you never did.
“This is a dangerous behavior as it may have a profound effect on a person’s concept of reality, self esteem and confidence,” says Wallace.
#8: You Don’t Feel Like Yourself
This is not one of the most obvious red flags, but it’s worth mentioning.
As licensed therapist Josh Hudson explains, a significant relationship red flag is you don’t recognize yourself.
“You don’t feel like yourself, and you don’t feel comfortable being you. You are not answering texts, you are hesitant about the future plans. And you snap at them more than usual. All the things that used to make you laugh now irritate you. If you feel dread when you see their name on a phone call or the sound of their keys in the lock, it’s the kiss of death for a relationship,” says Hudson.
Also, he adds, “Go out with your friends. If that feels like a relief for you because you can finally act like yourself; it’s a sign that the relationship is not worth having. Don’t confuse chemistry with compatibility. Chemistry is like a match that burns out. Compatibility means you and your partner bring out the best in yourself.”
#9: They Isolate You From Family and Friends
“Isolation creeps in when your new boyfriend or girlfriend starts pulling you away from your friends and family, your support system, and tethering you more tightly to them,” Hudson says.
Some sentences they might use to disconnect you from your known life, according to Hudson, are:
- “Why do you hang out with them? They’re such losers;”
- ‘’They want us to break up;”
- “They’re totally against us.”
As Hudson adds, “Isolation is about sowing seeds of doubt about everyone from your pre-relationship life. Healthy love includes independence, two people who love spending time together but who stay connected to the people and activities they cared about before.”
Over time maintaining independence in your relationship is key.
And you can do it by spending some time apart and encouraging your partner to do the same.
Relationship Red Flags: Final Thoughts
You don’t necessarily have to experience physical abuse or verbal abuse to be in a unhealthy relationship.
All the red flags we mentioned are clear signs your relationship has significant problems you should address.
Here’s a recap:
- You and your partner never have arguments,
- Your partner makes you feel guilty for spending time with your friends, family, and important people in your life,
- They don’t allow to express your thoughts, feelings, or emotions,
- Their relationship with their family is contentious,
- They’re unable to say sorry,
- They don’t want you to post certain things on social media,
- They gaslight you,
- You don’t feel like yourself,
- They try to isolate you from family and friends.
- Keischa Pruden, licensed therapist
- Ashera De Rosa, licensed marriage and family therapist, writer and educator
- Dr. Marcuetta Sims, licensed psychologist
- Tatyana Dyachenko, relationship expert and psychologist
- Carmel Jones, relationship coach
- Kimberly Wallace, former social worker and trauma therapist
- Josh Hudson, licensed therapist
- Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist and chief advisor to Online for Love
Get access to exclusive self-improvement and relationships content, subscribe to my free newsletter here.