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45 Big Relationship Red Flags Most Couples Completely Ignore Early in Love

Red flags aren’t always easy to acknowledge, especially in a new relationship. But if you don’t catch on to these signs early on, you’ll be wishing you had.

red flags in a relationship

Love is blind, they say. When we’re in a new relationship, we tend to overlook some big *neon* signs and red flags in a relationship that really help us see who our partner is and whether they’re a good fit for us.

After a relationship ends, we always think about the red flags in a relationship we saw but completely ignored. Did they hate your friends? Never met your parents? Did they manipulate you to get her way?

It’s always easy to look back and see the big lightbulb flashing over your head and you go “Oh, I knew this person was bad all along!” But somehow, we don’t see it when it matters.

This is why it’s so important to reevaluate the health of your relationship even if it’s new. Learning about relationship red flags early on in your relationship can help keep your relationship progressing and save you a lot of heartache.

[Read: 51 warning signs of a bad first date and BIG red flags in the first few dates]

Relationship red flags—what are they exactly?

Before we go into the biggest red flags you shouldn’t ignore, what do we mean when we talk about red flags in a relationship?

Relationship red flags are subtle signs we notice in someone we date that triggers a bad feeling about our future together.

So, what’s the difference between a small annoyance from your partner and a relationship red flag, then?

An irritating yet non-harmful habit that your partner has is an annoyance. A red flag, however, is a behavior that your partner has that shows they aren’t interested in keeping a mutually respectful relationship.

Chewing with your mouth open or wearing socks with holes aren’t red flags. They may be your pet peeves, but they don’t hold the power to emotionally and mentally harm you. [Read: Emotional abuse – What it is and 39 signs this relationship is breaking you]

Though you may know of the more common red flags like physical abuse, many red flags are camouflaged and tricky to spot right away. Of course, you end up realizing they’re red flags months or years into the relationship, and it just makes things harder.

Why we ignore the big red flags

When we start liking someone, it’s easier to ignore the relationship red flags and continue living a lie in our heads. After all, they’re just tiny nothings, right? It’s not a big deal if they have a few flaws, is it?

But if you do want to be happy in love, you should keep your eyes out for the most important red flags in a relationship, and focus on them even if everything seems rosy and picture-perfect in your new romance. These are definitely non-negotiables you should never ignore.

Ignore these red flags, and you’re only wasting several months *or even years* staying in a relationship that’ll only leave you feeling far worse and broken. [Read: 20 non-negotiables in relationships you shouldn’t ever compromise on]

The biggest yet subtle red flags in a relationship to watch out for

It’s always best to spot the red flags nice and early to avoid the painful process of going through a breakup. If you’re in a new relationship and are having some doubts about it, then it’s probably for a good reason. [Read: How to know when a relationship isn’t working with these 15 revealing signs]

But what are the red flags? Good question! We have you covered. These relationship red flags are the ones you need to look for. Don’t be love-blind!

1. You’re their first real relationship

Unless you’re 18, this is not a good thing. Especially if all their relationships in the past were friends-with-benefits or one-night-stands. Short-term casual relationships are fine if that’s something both of you want.

But if you’re dating someone who’s never defined any of their previous relationships, you’re either dating someone who’s too immature or someone who doesn’t want to commit to anyone. [Read: Is he ready for a relationship not? 44 signs for you to wait or walk]

2. They don’t communicate

If you can’t communicate with your partner, you’re not going to get far. Now, we’re not talking about casual communication like sending each other memes. We’re talking about discussing things that bother you and vice versa with each other.

If they can’t talk through their issues, this is one of those huge early relationship red flags.

What’s going to happen instead? Will they just blame it all on you? Completely shut down? That’s not how healthy relationships work.

3. A possessive partner

It’s cute when they text you asking you where you are. But then after the fifth text, it starts getting a little too much.

If they’re constantly asking what you’re doing and who you’re with, this is a relationship red flag. Especially if you’ve only been dating for a short while.

This behavior only becomes worse and may result in them prohibiting you from seeing certain friends and family members. [Read: 23 early warning signs of a possessive man and the best ways to fix it ASAP]

4. They don’t want to compromise

In a healthy relationship, you’re going to have to compromise. So if your partner refuses to meet you in the middle, that’s a huge red flag.

Instead of communicating and compromising with you, they stand their ground and refuse to find a happy medium for both of you.

What happens is you end up doing everything they want to do without getting your needs met. Does that sound healthy to you?

5. They have to be the center of attention

If you’re dating a walking red flag, you’ll know that if they had it their way, the world would revolve around them. [Read: 73 red flag narcissism signs and traits of a narcissist to read them like a book]

If your basic conversation with them revolves around their needs, that’s a problem. In your relationship, it’s not going to be about the both of you. It’s going to be about them and only them.

6. They never initiate dates

If you’re always the one who plans everything, you should reconsider just how perfect this new relationship is. Whether it’s a movie night at home or dinner out, it’s not up to you to always need to make the first move. Making plans isn’t easy, it takes effort.

If you’re the only one putting in the effort, this is a problem. Your relationship is one-sided. [Read: 30 signs of a one-sided relationship and how to fix it before it ends]

7. They don’t respect your boundaries

Everyone has their own personal boundaries, and the people who know us respect those boundaries. But if this person oversteps the line and doesn’t care when you express your concern, they simply aren’t interested in making you feel safe and secure.

Or they may be trying to push you to see if you’ll push back.

If someone does something knowing it’ll hurt you or offend you, it clearly shows they’re trying to play a game of who gives in first. And you should never be with someone who shows this kind of a red flag in a relationship.

8. They love to criticize you

Whatever you do, they do it better. They constantly criticize you, dismissing your opinion, and treating you like you’re less than them.

This isn’t normal in any relationship—it’s a sign of emotional manipulation. They do this to make you appear smaller than them. [Read: 27 signs of emotional manipulation to know if you’re being used by someone]

9. You don’t meet their friends

Is your significant other going out with their friends without inviting you? Of course, we all need time to hang out with our own friends. But if you’ve never met them within a month or two of dating, that’s a red flag.

If they like you and are sincere about dating you, they should be introducing you to their friends and showing you off. [Read: Win ’em over – How to get your boyfriend’s friends to like you]

There are a couple of reasons for this behavior. They either don’t want to show themselves as in a relationship or they feel that their friends and family will not approve of you. Either way, you deserve better treatment than that.

10. They don’t want to label the relationship

You have been dating for a few months, and you feel the relationship can be something more than just “hanging out.” [Read: Define the relationship – 30 signs it’s time to DTR and how to talk about it]

But every time you bring up the conversation to define the relationship or ask, “What are we,” your partner deflects the conversation or doesn’t want to label the relationship as anything. Not a good sign. They’re not going to commit to you.

11. They have extreme jealousy

Okay, everyone is a bit jealous, so, we can’t say to watch out for jealousy. But what you do need to watch out for is signs of extreme jealousy.

It may appear to be a concern, but if they’re looking for your phone, following you on your night out, and asking you aggressive questions about your friends, well, it’s not going to get better.

12. Someone is keeping secrets

In healthy relationships, you need to be open and honest with your partner. No one should be keeping secrets and lying to one another.

So, if you’re finding out they’re hiding important things from you or straight up lying to your face, that’s a solid red flag in a relationship.

13. They use guilt as a weapon

Do they expect you to do something for them to prove your love for them? Or do they tell you that you should do something because they’re your partner?

Guilt-tripping is one of the worst red flags in a relationship. And if you stay in this relationship, you will age fifty years in a very short period. [Read: Guilt-free ways to handle guilt trippers in your life]

14. They have few or no friends

If your partner doesn’t have many, or any, friends, there’s likely a reason for that. If they’re shy and have a very close circle of friends, that’s different.

If the only people they socialize with are their grandma and uncle, this is a clear sign something is wrong with their socialization skills.

This could mean they’re highly codependent or unable to form healthy relationships. [Read: 39 ways to stop being codependent and relying on others to make you happy]

15. Your friends and family don’t like them

Sometimes, your friends and family won’t like your partner for reasons that shouldn’t be a problem, such as race or religion.

But then there are times when your family and friends simply don’t like your partner for their behavior. If this is the case, they’re seeing something in this person that you’re not able to see because you’re clouded by love.

16. They’re disrespectful to their parents

There’s an old saying, “How a man treats his mother is how he will treat his wife.” This applies to both genders and is absolutely true. Meet the parents.

You’ll be able to see how their relationship is and whether there is mutual respect within the family. If they don’t treat their own parents nicely, you’re not special. They’re not going to treat you nicely either.

17. There’s not an equal playing field

You don’t feel there’s equal power between you. Instead, there’s a severe power imbalance, where your needs aren’t being met. You feel more submissive, and your partner has become controlling.

That’s a serious relationship red flag that will only get worse the longer you ignore it. [Read: 19 ways to pull back in a relationship when you’re giving too much]

18. You’re not on their social media

It’s been months of dating, and you have yet to appear on their social media. Now, some people aren’t active on social media or post, that’s one thing.

But if they’re frequently on social media and you’re not in any photos or posts, that’s a little odd. It doesn’t sound like you’re a long-term option. [Read: Instagram flirting – How it’s secretly ruining your relationship]

19. All their exes are “crazy”

If your partner claims that all of their exes are crazy, how likely is that? Isn’t that just a little weird? How can they all be crazy? If they describe all of their exes as “crazy” then you know who the “crazy” one is—they’re sitting right across from you.

If your partner claims all of their exes are crazy, this is a huge red flag as it shows they have never self-reflected or acknowledged their own behavior within their past relationships. They love to play the victim card.

20. They have a substance abuse problem

Everyone likes to have a drink here or there, but it is a serious red flag if your partner is choosing substances over you. This includes canceling or delaying plans with you to indulge in substances or even pushing them onto you.

Naturally, someone addicted to substances will hide it well, up to a point. Still, it’s important to not overlook this red flag.

21. Name-calling

We have all said some things during a heated argument that we wish we didn’t say. However, if your arguments with your partner are filled with extremely hateful and negative phrases and name-calling, this is not okay and is one of the biggest relationship red flags.

Name-calling only gets worse as time goes on, and shows a clear disrespect towards you. This name-calling can also turn into more physically abusive behavior. [Read: 36 signs of disrespect in a relationship that reveal a lack of love & respect]

22. They gaslight you

Gaslighting is dangerous and can seriously affect the way you see reality and your own world. After all, when someone you trust as a lover manipulates you with your own words, can you trust anything at all?

When you’re talking to your partner, do they use gaslighting phrases that make you second-guess yourself on things you’ve said in past conversations?

They’re messing with your head and altering your reality. This is extremely dangerous and will only get worse.

23. They rush into the relationship

This one is usually not a good sign. If your partner is rushing into the relationship, you need to ask yourself why. What happened in their past? This could be a rebound or the case of serial monogamy.

Either way, you don’t want that. You want someone who wants you, not someone who just needs to be in a relationship for the sake of it.

24. They never ask how you’re feeling

Do they ever ask you how you’re feeling? How was your day? What do you feel like doing today? These may not seem like big questions, but they are. They show you that this person cares about you.

But if your partner never asks you about yourself, are they really interested in you? 

25. They openly tease you to the point of insulting you

We can tease and poke fun at our partners, family, and friends, but there’s a line between doing it with a light heart and purposely insulting someone to bring them down.

But if they’re publicly insulting you and trying to mask it with, “You’re just being sensitive,” we have a problem. [Read: Self-centered people – 40 signs and ways to change yourself or deal with one]

26. They’re disrespectful toward strangers

Now, if a stranger did something towards you that was harmful, and then they were angry, that’s one thing.

But if this person is simply rude and disrespectful to your waiter or your Uber driver for no reason, that’s not a good sign. If they can treat someone they don’t know with such disrespect, you’re not going to get treated much better.

27. They don’t apologize

You’ve never really heard them say sorry, and if they do, it’s not genuine. If they can’t apologize for something they did to you, that’s a huge problem. Not being able to take responsibility isn’t a quality you want in a partner.

You may not think this is a big deal, but this is a major relationship red flag. Their inability to apologize essentially shows they do not take any responsibility and ownership for their actions.

Every fight will be your fault. Anything that goes bad, will be because of you. It’s not worth it, arguing with them is like running in a circle. The best thing to do is stay far away from people like this. [Read: Toxic people – 48 warning signs and the best ways to deal with them]

28. They accuse you of cheating

Maybe they saw a picture on Facebook of you and a friend of the opposite gender and got a little jealous. However, when someone accuses you of cheating on them, especially when they have no evidence, they may just be projecting their actions onto you.

Usually, those who are extremely defensive are so because they have done it themselves. Their accusations might be manifestations of their guilt and paranoia of you finding out the truth.

29. They cheated on their last relationship with you

Not everyone who cheats will always be a cheater—everybody has their reasons. But, if you’re the one they cheated with, most likely, you will be cheated on.

We’re sorry, but this is one of those relationship red flags you just can’t shove under the carpet.

This behavior shows they have never actually been alone and had time to process any breakup. Moving from relationship to relationship without going through the breakup aftermath is not a good sign.

30. They make you do everything

Relationships are built on mutual respect. If you’re the one doing all the cleaning, cooking, and activity planning, this isn’t a relationship… It’s called parenting.

This also shows they are not fully invested in the relationship and are looking more for a free ride. So, kick them to the curb—they can find someone else to be their slave. [Read: Emotionally manipulative boyfriend – 22 BIG signs and reasons to leave this man]

31. They point out your insecurities

If you have a couple of extra pounds around your tummy and they’re aware that you’re self-conscious about it, they should just never bring it up, or they should help you to embrace it.

If they’re calling you names and shaming you, this is a method of control and manipulation. That behavior has no place in a healthy relationship and will continue to get worse over time.

32. They have a poor work ethic

Okay, it may be early in the relationship, and their life’s ambitions, goals, and work ethics don’t matter right away.

However, what happens if this relationship turns into a long-term one? Do you see this person jump from one job to another? Or do they just slack all responsibility off onto someone else?

You need a partner with a similar work ethic to you. If you have a strong work ethic and your partner is more relaxed, what will happen is you will end up taking on most of the responsibilities.

Remember a relationship is based on two people being involved, not one person doing most of the work while the other is on the couch.

33. They want to change you

If they don’t like you the way you are, there’s the door. This relationship red flag is a tricky one because many people do not notice their significant other changing them.

This requires manipulative skills which should never be used within a relationship. They may suggest you change your look, cut your hair, or change the way you speak.

Most people will listen to their partner, but eventually, you look in the mirror and see a completely different person. Is that what you want? Is that what love is? You know it’s not.

34. They tend to run away from difficult discussions

A good partner is there for you when times get tough. A toxic partner is someone who seems to never be around when difficult discussions need to be made.

If your partner runs away when times get hard, it’s because they don’t find the resolution *aka your relationship* worth the effort.

35. They don’t take “no” as an answer

No means no. Has your partner refused to stop doing something after you’ve asked them nicely to stop?

If your significant other is constantly pushing your boundaries when you’ve clearly stated no, this shows they will continue to do so until the situation may turn violent.

They clearly don’t respect you and will continue to do what they want, even if it means they have to manipulate you. This is a big red flag in a relationship you shouldn’t ignore. [Read: Boundaries in a relationship – 43 healthy dating rules you MUST set early on

36. They’re physically, emotionally, or mentally abusive

Many people may be thinking, “Oh, this is obvious.” But when you’re in a relationship, it may be hard to notice certain types of abusive behavior.

If they call you names, shame you, act manipulatively, or make you cry—this is abusive behavior. You must leave the relationship.

Violence isn’t always physical. It can take many forms. The end goal is to break you down, physically or mentally, and if they’re trying to do that, it is abuse! [Read: Narcissistic abuse – What it is, types, 58 signs, and ways they hurt and break you]

37. They isolate you 

It could be something small at first, like your partner feeling uncomfortable with your daily routine. And then it’s a friend of yours they don’t like. And then they try to convince you your best friend or your parents are only using you or taking advantage of you. 

You may not realize this at first and assume your partner is only helping you. But if you do see signs that they’re trying to get you to cut off friendships or isolate you from everyone you love in your life, chances are, they’re not trying to help you.

They’re trying to isolate you so you have to depend on them for everything!

38. They try to control you

While physically controlling partners are easy to recognize, the emotionally controlling partner is the worst there is because you won’t recognize the signs, at least not right away!

They’re totally vulnerable and place you on a pedestal at first, and just as you start to believe you hold the reins in the relationship, they cut your feet from under and control you completely. [Read: 23 subtle signs of a controlling boyfriend most girls have no idea about]

39. They take you for granted

At first, they appreciate all that you do for them. But in no time, this appreciation turns into expectations and demands.

Within a month or so of dating each other, they expect you to answer their phone call no matter what, text back immediately, or plan all the dates. 

What starts as gratitude turns into demands, and no matter what you do, they’re never grateful for it. They just expect you to do it because it’s your “job” to please them. 

40. They flake

A partner who flakes on you is untrustworthy. If you’re dating someone who seems to change plans at their whims and fancies, they don’t love you. They love the idea of having you as a backup to spend time with when they have nothing better to do.

If you’ve made plans together, a person who loves you would be happy to spend time with you even if it means a walk in a park or a quiet night at home.

But if they ditch you for their friends every time you don’t have anything exciting planned out, walk away because this is a relationship red flag that will only hurt you and leave you feeling used.

41. They’re negatively affecting your relationship with friends and family

As we stated before, it is a huge red flag in your relationship if your partner is isolating you from your friends and family. Along with this, they might be negatively affecting your outside relationships.

They might start drama, speak ill of your friends and family, or manipulate your relationships to tear you down.

If they hate everyone in your life without reason, it’s a sign that they want to ruin your relationships to be the center of your attention.

42. They feel entitled

If your partner genuinely feels like they have the “right” to know information about you, to have sex with you, or to take things from you, they feel entitled to your personal space which is a huge red flag in relationships.

Entitled people feel that others should be doing more for them and that they don’t feel equal to their partners. This is a major red flag and shows that they don’t actually care about you. [Read: Unassuming signs you’re dating a jerk]

43. They love-bomb you

One of the hardest-to-catch red flags in a relationship is love bombing. This is because it feels so good to be on the receiving end of it… at least, only in the beginning.

Love bombing is detrimental to the health of your relationship. This is when your partner invests in you early on and showers you with all of the affection and attention in the world, only to completely pull away the second they reel you in.

This is a manipulation technique that goes hand-in-hand with narcissism, gaslighting, and other toxic relationship traits. [Read: Love bombing – what it is, how it works & 21 signs you’re being manipulated]

44. You defend them even if it feels wrong

The relationship is new but you find yourself finding excuses to justify their behavior. Rather than having a disagreement with this person, instead, you throw all the bad evidence away in your head in order to be aligned with your partner.

In reality, you’re just creating a false impression of them so that you don’t have to accept who they really are.

45. You feel it

Listen, you know exactly what’s going on in the situation, but you may be too insecure or scared to say or do anything about it. If your gut instinct is telling you that something isn’t right, well, something isn’t right.

Whether you’ve had past relationships or not, you know what it feels like to be treated with respect and how it feels like to be disrespected. So watch their actions and listen to your body’s response. [Read: Gut instinct – What it is, how it works & 30 tips to follow & listen to your gut]

Keep an eye on these red flags in a relationship

It’s never easy to notice these red flags, especially when you’re in love with someone. After all, this person could seem like a perfect catch in every other way—they’re attractive, interesting, great in bed, and whatnot.

If you notice even ONE of these red flags, that’s a sign that this person will always make you feel bad. Remember, love is a beautiful thing. And love is not supposed to make you feel bad.

How to approach red flags in a relationship

Okay, so you’ve noticed some weary signs in your relationship that might be red flags. Now what do you do? Well, there are a few ways you can approach red flags in a relationship:

1. Acknowledge your own needs

If you recognize one or multiple of these red flags in your relationship, chances are, you’re sacrificing your own needs to fulfill those of your partner. You’ll need to reroute your emotions and prioritize yourself first.

It’s easier said than done, but it’s a vital part of learning how to approach the red flags in your relationship.

Take a deep breath, take a few steps back, and reflect on what is important for you right now. You can’t see your relationship for what it is if you are blinded to your self-care needs. [Read: How to focus on yourself in a relationship & avoid losing yourself]

2. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries is healthy in any relationship because they help maintain a balance between you and your partner. Without clear and respected boundaries, you fall victim to your partner walking all over you.

So, establish boundaries with yourself and with your partner. Express when you need space and let them know what kind of behavior you will and will not tolerate. [Read: 23 secrets to set personal boundaries and guide others to respect them]

3. Be honest with yourself

This relates to our first point, acknowledging your own needs. To truly approach the red flags in your relationship, you’re going to have to be nothing but honest with yourself. Even if it hurts.

Are you optimistic about overcoming the red flags in your relationship through communication and teamwork with your partner?

Is your partner really someone you feel that you can depend on for your emotional needs? Have the hard discussions with yourself to get a clear idea of where you stand before talking to your partner.

4. Communicate

As we’ve mentioned a few times already, communication is the key to a relationship’s success. If you’re not able to talk to your partner about what’s been going on, your relationship will become stuck. The only way to get through the red flags is to have a serious, open discussion about them.

In order to do this, you’ll have to express your emotions calmly. If you go into a serious conversation with your partner and blow up from emotional overload, you will do more harm than good. Plus, this might make your partner shut down.

So, do what you need to to avoid becoming overly emotional. It will help you assess your relationship objectively and you’ll have a clearer mind for any decisions that need to be made.

5. Reconnect with friends and family

If your partner is someone who flees at the mention of a difficult discussion, reach out to a support group about how you’ve been feeling.

Friends, family, teachers, coworkers, or any other trusted person in your life can help you express and navigate what you’re going through.

And if your partner isolated you from your support groups, now is a good opportunity to reconnect. This can be intimidating, but if someone really is a loved one, they will be understanding of your situation and welcome you back into their life. [Read: How to reconnect with old friends & rebuild your lost friendships]

6. Seek professional help

Dealing with red flags in a relationship can be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone.

No matter how severe your situation is, a professional counselor can help you pinpoint the unhealthy signs in your relationship and help you navigate through them.

7. Know when to leave

If you have tried the approaches above and still find that your relationship is unmanageable, then it might be time to consider whether this relationship is serving you in a healthy and respectful way.

Reassess your boundaries and really ask yourself if this is just an easily fixed problem or if you deserve better. [Read: 42 red flags & signs it’s time to end your relationship & move on for good]

Red flags in a relationship shouldn’t be ignored

Relationships can only thrive when boundaries are respected, clear communication is maintained, and emotional needs are met.

If you’re experiencing one or many red flags from your partner, it’s a sign that your relationship is not progressing and it may even be at a dead-end.

Red flags won’t just go away on their own. When unhealthy behavior from your partner goes undealt, they will drain the life out of you, leaving you guilt-ridden and with low self-confidence. The only way through is by facing the red flags head-on.

Be gentle but stern with yourself. Why is your partner’s behavior making you upset? Is this a pattern you’ve discussed with them and they still haven’t changed?

Do you see your relationship getting any better later down the line?

In any healthy relationship, you should feel supported, cared for, and free to be yourself. If these red flags from your relationship conflict with your self-growth, it’s time to address them.

[Read: 21 secret signs of a bad relationship that signal a bad future ahead]

Noticing red flags early on in your relationship can be hard on the heart, but it must be done. Only when you’ve acknowledged and assessed these red flags can your relationship start to progress. The last thing you want is to invest your time and energy into someone who’s not right for you.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...