Red Flags and What to Look For

“Red flags” are warning signs that something unhealthy may be happening in a relationship or friendship. We’ve talked about red flags before, and we think it’s good to routinely have a refresher. It’s always good to reevaluate our experiences and interactions with people throughout our relationships, and to check in with ourselves about how we feel things are going.

When you think about red flags, think about your boundaries, what you want out of your friendships and relationships, and if you yourself participate in any unhealthy behaviors. One of our interns help us compile some examples of red flags below:

Unhealthy behavior: Trying to control you
Example: A partner says you can’t talk to someone for a reason that has nothing to do with you.
Why it’s unhealthy: Even when you’re in a dating relationship, you get to make decisions about friends in your life. You are able to have healthy conversations with partners about boundaries, spending time together, and mutual respect, but it is not healthy for your partner to say you’re “not allowed” to talk to someone. This can also indicate underlying trust issues.

Unhealthy behavior: Irresponsible or consistently immature
Example: A partner pushes things onto you and expects you to deal with everything.
Why it’s unhealthy: While it’s great to be in a partnership where you can receive support and rely on your partner for certain things, it can become unhealthy when someone becomes too dependent on the other, or doesn’t gain basic life skills because they expect their partner to do those things for them. Things like determining personal boundaries, managing finances, holding onto jobs or other responsibilities, and taking basic care of oneself are healthy for all capable individuals to have.

Unhealthy behavior: Unpredictable reactions or very extreme emotions
Example: You’re afraid to tell your partner about the book club you joined because you don’t know what their reaction will be.
Why it’s unhealthy: While no individual is perfectly predictable, there are some aspects of healthy relationships that are more reliable or consistent. If joining a book club or starting a new hobby could result in an extreme reaction from your partner, that’s a red flag. In a healthy relationship, a partner is more likely to take a bit of interest in what you’re interested in and be able to support you in healthy hobbies and activities.

What are some red flags you’d add to this list? We’ll keep adding more posts about other things to look out for, and even some green flags that indicate healthy relationship traits.