Red Flags to Lookout for in a Relationship
Red Flags to Lookout for in a Relationship
Your relationship should contribute to a sense of fulfillment, happiness, and connection. If you tend to feel more anxious, distressed, or unhappy around your partner, your relationship may be struggling.
Signs of unhealthy relationships can vary widely, so this list isn’t all-inclusive. But it may help point out some possible issues.
One of you tries to control or change the other
“We are never in control of changing another person,” Antin says.
If you’re concerned about a specific behavior, you should feel comfortable enough to bring it up. It’s OK to express your feelings and ask them to consider making changes. But it’s not OK to tell them what to do or attempt to control their behavior.
If they do something that really bothers you and you can’t accept it, the relationship may not have long-term potential.
Your partner doesn’t respect your boundaries
Boundaries can come into play across your relationship, from respectful communication to privacy needs. If you set a boundary and they push against it or pressure you to change it, that’s a serious red flag.
Maybe you’ve said, “I need personal space when I get home from work. I’m happy to see you, but I need to de-stress before any physical affection.”
But they continue to come up to you right when you get home, trying to kiss you and pull you into the bedroom. When you say no, they apologize and say “they just can’t help themselves.”
You might brush this off as a sign of affection and keep restating the boundary, hoping they’ll get it eventually. But their behavior shows disrespect for your needs.
You don’t spend much time together
Relationships often develop when people enjoy each other’s company and want to spend even more time together. Life events can sometimes get in the way of your time together, but these changes are usually temporary.
Your relationship might be struggling if you consistently see less of each other without a clear reason, such as family difficulties or more responsibilities at work.
Other warning signs include feeling distant with each other or relieved when you aren’t together. You might even try to find excuses to avoid spending time together.
The relationship feels unequal
Healthy relationships tend to be fairly well balanced. You might equally share finances, or balance out a lower income by running more errands.
But relationship equality can also relate to intangible things, such as affection, communication, and relationship expectations.
Periods of inequality can happen from time to time. One of you might temporarily lose your income, struggle to help with chores because of illness, or feel less affectionate due to stress or other emotional turmoil.
But if your relationship regularly feels unbalanced in any way, this can become problematic.
They say negative or hurtful things about you or others
There’s nothing wrong with showing concern when your partner does something that worries you. But in a healthy relationship, partners generally take care to express their feelings in helpful, productive ways.
It’s not healthy to constantly criticize each other or say intentionally hurtful things, especially about personal choices, such as food, clothing, or favorite TV shows. Criticism that makes you feel ashamed or bad about yourself is generally unproductive.
You don’t feel heard in the relationship
Maybe you don’t feel heard because they seem disinterested when you bring up a problem or share something that’s been on your mind. Or you might have a hard time sharing your opinion or talking about serious issues because you worry they’ll just brush you off.
Miscommunications can happen, of course. But if you do talk through an issue and they seem receptive but don’t make any changes or seem to have completely forgotten what you talked about by the next day, that’s also a warning sign.
You’re afraid of expressing disagreement
Partners should always feel safe to have their own opinions, even when this means they disagree. If your partner responds to your (different) viewpoint with dismissal, contempt, or other rudeness, this often suggests they don’t respect you or your ideas.
If you find yourself censoring everything you say because you worry about their reaction, or feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” every day, as Antin puts it, it may be time to seek professional help.
You don’t feel happy or comfortable around your partner
For many people, key relationship goals include increased happiness and life satisfaction. If you feel uneasy or unhappy all the time, the relationship may not be meeting your needs.
This can happen even when you’re both putting effort into the relationship. People change over time, so feeling dissatisfied and trapped doesn’t necessarily mean either of you have done anything “wrong.” You may have just become different people who no longer fit well together.
Disagreements or discussions don’t go anywhere
Healthy conflict resolution typically leads to solutions or compromise. Maintaining a relationship is an ongoing process, so you might not work everything out right away. But you usually feel good about your conversations afterward. You usually see some progress.
It’s generally not a good sign when you find yourself talking in circles or about the same issues all the time. Maybe there’s never any improvement, no matter how much you discuss something. Maybe they eventually just shut you out.