How to identify red flags in a relationship?

Choosing a good and compatible person as a partner is essential for our well-being. In this regard, it is important that we pay attention to the red flags.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz on November 04, 2021.

Last update: 04 November, 2021

When we start a relationship, we inevitably analyze the other person to assess to what degree we are compatible. We look at their strengths and weaknesses, tastes, interests and ideals and compare them to our expectations. This process is essential, since it allows us to identify the red flags that can make bonding a real nightmare.

The term red flags It has become popular in recent times as it is used, especially, in social networks and by younger people. However, it does indicate something to which we have all always paid attention: the non-negotiable aspects or red lines that cannot be crossed if we want the relationship to come to fruition.

What are the “red flags”?

Paying attention to the “red flags” allows us to get out of potentially harmful relationships.

The red flags are red flags, warning signs that draw our attention to a behavior or thought of the other person that may be harmful or incompatible with us. These can be of various kinds.

Some have a general character and affect any type of relationship; for example: disrespect, physical or verbal abuse, manipulation, invalidation of feelings …

Others are specifically related to what each of us looks for in an affective bond.. They refer to the existence or absence of a common project, similar ideals or a compatible lifestyle. For example, if one of the people wants to start a family and the other does not want to have children.

Ultimately, the beginning of a relationship always implies a process of adjustment and negotiation in which both people can adapt to each other. Nevertheless, there are certain points in which it is not possible to give in, since they directly attack the essence of the individual. This is the danger that the red flags.



Why is it important to identify them in time?

It is not possible to get to know another human being in depth only in a few months. However, it is important that we clarify these key points early to avoid future setbacks.

Sometimes, it is not until the relationship is advanced that certain incompatibilities come to light, since at the beginning we all try to show our best face and the process of falling in love itself can blind us to these red flags.

Even so, as far as possible, we must identify them in time for the following reasons:

  • It is much more useful and less harmful to choose people who are compatible with us from the beginning than to try to change them later. If we do not identify the red flags or we ignore them, conflicts and arguments are likely to be a constant in the couple’s day-to-day and thus negative dynamics are generated that can escalate.
  • Dissatisfaction, unhappiness and frustration are almost guaranteed. Living and sharing our lives with a person who is disrespectful, manipulative or simply very different from us will fill our day-to-day with suffering and bitterness, and the emotional exhaustion that we will suffer will be important.
  • In the long run, we will be forced to leave the relationship to safeguard our integrity and happiness. Nevertheless, this step will be much more difficult to take after years of living, building and sharingespecially if there are children involved. Therefore, it is preferable to recognize and accept from the beginning that it is preferable not to embark on this project.
  • Unsatisfying or painful relationships can create psychological and emotional wounds that will be difficult to heal. Abuse, continued infidelity or even indifference can cause serious damage to self-esteem that will not only limit us in the face of future relationships, but will also require personal work to heal.

How to recognize the “red flags” in a relationship?

Discomfort and dissatisfaction in a relationship can be “red flags.”

Identify the red flags on time may not be easy. Therefore, below we will analyze some aspects that we should look at in order to recognize them and act accordingly.



We have to give up our essence

Since we have known this person, we have begun to abandon our hobbies, interests and hobbies to conform to those of the other person. We have had to modify our ideals or give up aspects that are important to us. Ultimately, we are forced to disguise ourselves in order to fit in with the other.

We isolate ourselves socially

We have stopped visiting our relatives, our friends and our acquaintances; our life is reduced, more and more, to the couple. We may feel that we are doing this voluntarily, but it is likely due to subtle manipulation.

Maybe we isolate ourselves from others to avoid bad faces or hostile or indifferent attitudes from our partner that arise when we decide to socialize.

We feel invalidated, mistreated or dissatisfied

Remember that our emotions are always valid and we have the right to feel them, express them and receive empathy from our partner. If he accused of being dramatic, exaggerated, or crazy when we expose dislike or disagreement, we are facing an important red flag.

Even when this is not so clear and visible, if we generally feel dissatisfied in the relationship, we should pay attention to this. Analyzing what happens to us is the first step to take care of ourselves.

We lie about the relationship

Our loved ones know us deeply and love us; For this reason, they do not hesitate to notify us when they perceive that something is damaging us. Yes we have to hide certain aspects of the relationship from our loved ones For fear of being criticized or urged to leave our partner, let’s not ignore it.

We see the future with fear instead of with illusion

In short, of all red flags, one of the most significant is to perceive the future as a couple with fear, sadness or hopelessness. Creating a life in common must generate hope and tranquility, it must make us feel that we are in the right place. Yes we see the future as a constant struggle or resignation, clearly something is not right.

The “red flags” help us to leave on time

When we detect a red flag, our first impulse is usually to try to fix it. We think that the gap is not so great, that it is possible to approach positions or that we should not be so demanding. So we keep going until the situation becomes untenable.

Nevertheless, When it comes to non-negotiable aspects, the best decision is to leave the relationship, Since staying in a relationship with an incompatible person, sooner or later will lead to unhappiness.

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