Red Flags in an Unhealthy Relationship


When it comes to building relationships, people turn out to be unprepared for it. They think they can build a happy harmonious relationship, but they make a lot of mistakes without even realizing they are doing something wrong and destructive. Each couple experience ups and downs in their relationship. However, if some unhealthy pattern of behavior or habit begins to dominate, the relationship becomes dysfunctional. How to spot those patterns and habits? Read on to find out what are some red flags in a relationship.

red flags in a relationship

Relationship red flags and deal breakers: what's it all about?

Psychologists divide relationships into healthy and unhealthy ones. Do you feel appreciated? Does your partner take your opinion into consideration? Do you feel happier when you spend time with your partner rather than apart? Do you get feedback when you share something very personal with your significant other? Does your partner understand and support you? If you answered positively to all these questions, you’re in a healthy relationship. If some of the questions got you thinking, you probably should analyze your relationship more thoroughly.

Some people break up or get divorced when their relationship doesn’t give them what it is supposed to give. Sometimes it’s the only right decision, but sometimes it’s their inability to overcome a crisis. And relationships are full of crises. However, there are those people who feel that there is something wrong with their relationship, but they don’t even try to figure it out. They stay in a dysfunctional relationship just because they don’t want to lose what they already have. Remaining in the relationship which doesn’t make you happy, you disrespect yourself.

Quite often, people don’t even realize that their relationship stopped working long ago. They can’t say that everything is bad. There can be a lot of pleasant moments in their relationship, such as dates, passion, gifts, etc. Partners are not fully satisfied with their relationship, but the thought of a breakup or divorce scares them. What to do in this case? You should decide if there is a point in continuing this relationship if you can be happy with someone else. To make the right decision, you need to be sure that your current relationship is unhealthy and you can’t improve it. For this, you need to watch out for red flags.

What are red flags in a relationship? Those are warning signs that your relationship needs to be improved or ended. They are numerous. Some of them are more obvious, some are more subtle, but you need to be aware of them in order to scrutinize your relationship and decide what to do with it.

Controlling relationship red flags

Different sets of red flags are characteristic of different types of unhealthy relationships. Those can be dependent relationships, abusive relationships, unequal relationships, controlling and manipulative relationships, etc. Long-term relationships should be harmonious. Harmonious means healthy. A healthy relationship is the one that makes both you and your partner happy. You live together, you develop together, you care for each other. Your love is creative, not destructive. When there is an error in the equation, harmony is ruined. It’s up to you try to eradicate the mistake by working on it together or cross everything out.

There are some patterns of unhealthy relationships that are difficult or impossible to mend, especially if they come from your partner who doesn’t want to change. One of those toxic patterns is a controlling relationship. How to recognize it? Here are the major controlling relationship red flags.

red flags in a relationshipSpying and getting you to report about your actions. You didn’t even notice how it came to this, but your loved one is aware of your plans, knows whom you call and who calls you, knows where you’re going and where you’ve been. Be careful: this is your partner’s first step to getting a total control over you and imposing their authority on you. Once the boundaries of your personal space have been violated, it will be hard to win them back.

Criticism. In a healthy relationship, partners don’t criticize each other. They can express some concern but that will be done for good reasons. Partners are supposed to support each other in this crazy hectic world, not criticize. If it happens within a couple, this can be deemed as one of the emotionally abusive relationship red flags.

Trust issues. Trust is a cornerstone of a harmonious relationship. If there is a lack of trust between partners, suspicion soon shows up. It breeds jealousy which, in its turn, leads to conflicts.

Hostility. Controlling partners use all possible means to retain their significant others. They are often hostile towards their partners both emotionally and physically. They use verbal insults to belittle their partners, affect their self-esteem. They can also resort to threats of physical violence or practice violent sex to show their dominance. These are also the red flags of an abusive relationship.

Restricting your contacts with friends. You had your social life before you met your partner, but now their controlling nature dictates them to isolate you from your previous life. Unlike healthy relationships where partners enjoy the freedom of interaction with their friends and family, in an unhealthy relationship the controlling partner restricts the other partner’s freedom.

Emotional pressure. The manipulative partner plays on your emotions to get control over you. Women often resort to their partner’s sense of guilt. Hysterics, groundless accusations, jealousy – these are red flags in a relationship for guys.

Financial red flags in a relationship

Money is not a priority in a relationship, but financial matters often become the tools for manipulation in unhealthy relationships or lead to a breakup. The unhealthy relationship red flags list would be incomplete without financial issues. If your partner does the following things, most probably you’re financially incompatible.

  • Avoiding talking about money.
  • Concealing their debts.
  • Being addicted to spending money.
  • Not being able to stick to a budget.
  • Borrowing money from people.
  • Not saving.
  • Controlling your money.

Red flags in a new relationship

At the beginning of a relationship, you tend to idealize your partner and turn a blind eye to his or her shortcomings. You can even justify some normally intolerable things and ignore major red flags in a relationship. It may take some time before you finally open your eyes and see that your relationship with this person has no future. Frequently, people realize it too late, after they get married. How to figure out already at the stage of dating that you’re wasting your time with the wrong person? Look out for the following early relationship red flags.

major red flags in a relationshipYour partner speaks badly of their exes. If your date recalls his or her past relationships in the unfriendly tone, it means only one thing – he or she hasn’t drawn any conclusions from that relationship. Statements like, “I did everything right, it was his/her fault” signal that the same scenario is awaiting your relationship with this person. Your partner makes you doubt yourself. There is a special term for this kind of behavior – gaslighting. People inclined to manipulation resort to this unhealthy behavior. Your partner knows that you’re right but they deliberately say phrases like “you’re carrying this too far” or “you’re overreacting again” to mislead you. Learn to trust your guts: if you feel something is wrong in your relationship, most certainly it is so.

Your partner avoids your friends and relatives. This is one of the less obvious red flags in a relationship, but it’s no less important. Ideally, in a healthy relationship, partners are interested not only in one another but also in each other’s lives, social circles, families. If your partner introduced you to his or her friends but avoids your social circle, it’s time to discuss this matter in a peaceful way.

Your partner is rude to strangers. The way your partner treats waiters in restaurants, talks to taxi drivers and shop assistants can tell much about how they will treat you further in the relationship. These things are correlated. There should be consistency in person’s attitude to other people. One can’t act impolitely and condescendingly towards some people and be an even-tempered and respectful person towards others.

Your partner never apologizes. Having the nerve to say I’m sorry is a sign of maturity. It’s indicative of a person’s ability to take on responsibility and admit one’s faults. You should think about the perspective of continuing this relationship if you are always the one who apologizes and makes the first step to reconciliation. In the future, it can grow into an unhealthy pattern where one is always right and the other one is always wrong.

You don’t know where your partner spends time and money. Of course, you’re only dating and you have separate budgets. You don’t have the right to control your partner’s spending, but it’s quite unpleasant to find out that your current partner spent the weekend abroad or got a promotion from their Facebook post.

Your partner doesn’t respect your personal boundaries. Is your opinion important to your partner? Does he or she respect your time? Do you have to make certain sacrifices for the sake of your relationship? At the initial stage of a relationship, people tend to be more flexible. However, the sooner you set your personal boundaries, the better. If your partner doesn’t respect them, it’s an excuse for a serious talk.

Your partner makes fun of you in public. Sarcastic remarks and mockery are the red flags of unhealthy relationship. Friendly banter is okay and even beneficial. But if it’s about deriding jokes, and you asked your partner not to do that in front of other people, it means your partner doesn’t respect you. You don’t feel comfortable in the relationship, and it’s a sign of the unhealthy relationship.

Your partner constantly finds faults with you. There is always something wrong with the way you eat, speak, sit, do the dishes, make the bed. Your needs, interests, and preferences are usually ignored. But your time and attention are constantly used in a selfish way. All those are red flags of unhealthy relationships. If you notice them already in the beginning of a relationship, think how they can aggravate later on.

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