There’s probably at least one relationship you’ve been in that ended because of a huge red flag, like your partner lying to their family about you or blowing all of your joint savings at the casino.
From there, it may seem like we should always run far away from anyone who is even remotely shady—but this isn’t always the case. People aren’t relationship unicorns, and sometimes we get into relationships with people who have questionable qualities early on. Then, over time, those things become less and less important (or nonexistent), and eventually, they don’t matter anymore.
So how do you know what’s worth paying attention to and what isn’t? This is where it gets tough! Here are 12 relationship red flags that may mean trouble ahead, plus some tips on how you can decide whether or not it’s an issue for your relationship.
1. They have problems with being honest about their whereabouts or doing certain things.
The truth is that some people are just flaky—which can be fixed, to an extent. But if they’re purposely lying about basic things like where they are or who they’re with, it may mean there’s something more to this relationship red flag than meets the eye.
2. They excessively complain about their exes or pine for their attention despite claiming to want to cut them out of their lives entirely.
If you feel insecure in your relationship because your partner is still texting former flames, talking about them behind their back, or being overly nice/needy toward them when they’re together—something shady could be going on. It’s normal for all couples to have problems with past relationship baggage, but it’s not okay if they’re still trying to make their relationship with an ex-work or are acting like a relationship with you isn’t real. Honesty is the best policy in any relationship—if something is going on here, your partner should be upfront about it.
3. They always bail on plans last minute or don’t follow through when they say they will.
Being flaky and having a lack of consideration for your relationship may seem like two different things, but there’s a fine line between “I can’t stay out too late tonight” and “Oh yeah, I’m going to right now!” You know the difference here: The former is someone who might have a little too much on their plate, but the latter is someone who might be trying to hide something.
4. They don’t want you to meet or talk to their friends (or family).
This relationship red flag isn’t as alarming as some of the other relationship signs listed here, but it’s worth keeping an eye on if your partner isn’t making an effort with your friends and family. If they won’t introduce you because “everyone knows everyone” or because “they’d hate me,” that might be a sign that they’re ashamed of you for whatever reason (especially if they only ever hang out with people online).
5. They never seem happy about anything in life, always seem “off” or annoyed, or are constantly on edge.
Sometimes it’s okay for someone to have a morning grouch—but if they’re always mad, unhappy, paranoid about something all the time, it could be because they have relationship problems at home that are taking priority over your relationship. If you tell them something is wrong and they can’t give you any satisfying answers about why they feel this way all the time, ask yourself whether being with them is really worth the emotional energy you’re putting into them when there could be something else going on here.
6. They don’t maintain their own social life despite having plenty of free time—or they aren’t willing to do things with you.
If they claim to be “too busy” to do anything on a weekly basis or spend any time with their friends, that might mean something is going on. If this is the case, you have every right to ask them what’s going on—but if they’re unwilling to talk about it with you, drop it and let them go.
- They’re either hiding relationship problems from you.
- They’re too cowardly to face up to their own issues.
- Or they don’t want anything serious enough with you for you two to have a relationship.
In any of those cases, someone who cares about your relationship wouldn’t be so secretive about it.
7. They lie blatantly about important relationship facts (dating, relationship, etc.).
This relationship red flag is a total relationship deal-breaker. If you feel like every time you ask them about where they went, who they were with, or what they did, it’s a “lie by omission,” then this person isn’t being honest with you from the get-go, dump them and find someone better suited for a relationship.
Relationships require honesty and trust to survive—and there’s nothing at all here that indicates that their relationship is going to change anytime soon.
8. They create drama out of thin air or blame problems on your character flaws instead of owning up to their own responsibility in the relationship.
Drama queens are exhausting partners—but if they are the ones always making relationship problems out of nothing, it might be time to re-evaluate your relationship. Only if they can admit when they’re wrong and stop seeing relationship problems where they don’t exist will your relationship grow strong enough into a meaningful one.
On the other hand, if your partner is unwilling to do this, take them off the table—because emotional maturity in a relationship takes real effort, and sometimes even an outside perspective can help us see things we’ve been blind to in the past.
9. They don’t respect or understand your boundaries and tend to blow up easily over minor issues.
People who feel like everything is a full-on battle need to figure out how to let go of their anger when something doesn’t go their way because relationships require a lot of give and take . If you feel like this relationship is always going to be a fight, ask yourself why you want to put in the effort for someone who doesn’t make it easy for you? No relationship is worth fighting over something stupid every day.
10. They aren’t respected by your friends or family as much as they deserve.
If everyone else thinks that this person isn’t good enough for you, listen now instead of later when it comes time to break up.
11. They’re not willing to let go of past relationship problems—or use them as an excuse to push you away whenever things get hard between the two of you.
Every relationship has its challenges—which is why it’s crucial to be with someone who can make the relationship work even when things are tough. If this person isn’t willing to put in any effort, dump them before they dump you. Please don’t waste your time waiting for someone who doesn’t deserve it.
12. They’re too busy or disinterested whenever you need emotional help
Other ways to tell if he’s a good partner are:
- Even during difficult times in life, they’ll try to prey on your compassion instead of trying to soothe you like a decent partner would.
- Or they don’t care enough about you or have the skills necessary to give you emotional support when things get tough.
- Or they’re attempting to feed off of your sympathy rather than offering emotional support as a competent partner should.
If they use their relationship difficulties as a reason not to assist or collaborate, get rid of them and find someone more trustworthy.
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