Relationships can be a complicated labyrinth of emotions, deep connections, and occasionally, subtle red flags that many of us unintentionally (or intentionally) overlook.
In other words, as much as relationships are a blessing, they can also be deeply confusing at times. And even end up hurting us.
And if you’re lucky in love, you might even be at the stage where you reflect and reflect and reflect on your current relationship, constantly wondering if those small tiffs and quirks are just normal ups and downs…
Or if they’re signs of a deeper issue that could potentially be the demise of the bond you two lovebirds share.
So, how exactly can you tell if what you’re experiencing is an ordinary part of being in a relationship, or when it’s a big, red, waving, warning sign, that something isn’t quite right?
The following 7 red flags are ones that often go unnoticed in relationships, until it’s too late.
If these aren’t too unfamiliar to you, it might be time to take a closer look at your relationship before small cracks turn into irreparable fractures.
1) Unresolved past issues
We’ve all been through rough patches in our past relationships. It’s overcoming these hurdles that usually makes us stronger.
But sometimes, those unresolved issues tend to seep into our present relationships, creating a murky pool of resentment and misunderstanding.
You might notice your partner bringing up past incidents, experiences or people during arguments or casual conversations more often than seems normal.
You might also find yourself on the receiving end of reactions that seem disproportionate to the situation at hand.
Either way, let the past have its moment but know that if it has a seat at the table every day of the week, you won’t be able to live a life without it.
2) Excessive agreement
The harmony of always being on the same page with your partner might seem like the ideal scenario. However, excessive agreement can sometimes be a subtle sign of an underlying issue in your relationship.
You might notice that your partner agrees with you on almost everything, from trivial decisions like where to have dinner to major ones like financial planning or having children. This might make you feel valued and loved initially, but it could also indicate that your partner is suppressing their opinions or not fully engaging in the relationship.
How do you differentiate between a supportive partner and someone who’s just going along with everything?
How do you resolve conflict with someone who hangs on every word you say and agrees with it?
Because inevitably, you will argue. And with one argument, you might find your relationship going up in flames if you haven’t learned the tools to fix things…
As counterintuitive as it sounds, not arguing at all can actually be a red flag.
So if this sounds familiar, it might be worth encouraging open and honest discussions where both you and your partner can freely express your thoughts and feelings.
3) Constantly seeking reassurance
It’s natural to seek validation and reassurance in a relationship. However, a perpetual need for reassurance can sometimes be indicative of deeper insecurities or lack of self-esteem.
You might notice your partner frequently questioning your feelings for them, needing constant affirmations of your love, or seeking approval for every little decision. At first, it may seem endearing and you might chalk it up to their love for you, but over time, this could become draining and create a sense of imbalance in the relationship.
How do you differentiate between a partner who strays on the anxious side of life and just needs a bit of extra reassurance, and one who’s reliant on you for their self-confidence?
Well, as difficult as navigating anxious attachment is, it can actually be abetted with deep and reassuring love.
But if your partner still seems to hang on you for their validation, it could be a sign of someone who can’t stand on their own two feet.
4) Overdependence on technology
In this digital age, it’s not uncommon for technology to play a significant role in our lives. However, when it begins to dominate your relationship, it might be a red flag.
You might notice your partner constantly checking their phone during your dates, or you may find yourselves spending evenings side by side, engrossed in your individual screens rather than engaging with each other.
But if you feel like you contend with someone else’s smartphone for quality time, it’s one big red flag.
As great as screens are for keeping us in contact with distant loved ones, and allowing us to work faster, it’s still important to be able to switch off entirely and focus on the real world.
And let me tell you now – someone who can’t look away from their screen and up at your face is doing you a disservice.
5) Dismissive of emotions
It’s a tough situation when you pour your heart out, only to have your significant other dismiss your feelings as trivial or overreactions.
You might find yourself in moments where you’re sharing your deepest fears, greatest joys, or most distressing concerns, and they’re brushed off with a casual ‘you’re overthinking’ or ‘you’re too sensitive’.
It takes learning and growing for couples to understand and support one another’s emotional needs.
But if you’re several months or years in a relationship, and you’re still being dismissed despite trying to help your partner learn how to love you better…
6) Excessive gift-giving
Gifts are usually a symbol of appreciation and love in a relationship. However, an excessive pattern of gift-giving can sometimes be a sign of overcompensation or trying to mask underlying issues.
You might notice your partner showering you with extravagant presents or frequent surprises.
While these gestures may seem charming and generous initially, they could also indicate that your partner is trying to make up for something, distract you from problems or even manipulate your feelings.
7) Always pointing out flaws
Constructive criticism is a healthy part of any relationship, helping us grow and improve. However, when it crosses the line into constant nitpicking or belittling, it could be a red flag.
You might notice your partner frequently pointing out your flaws, making negative comments about your appearance, behavior or choices.
Initially, you might perceive it as them pushing you towards improvement, but over time, this could erode your self-esteem and create disharmony in the relationship.
If you’ve brought up how this makes you feel bad about yourself and still this behavior continues, consider how healthy it is to love someone who seems to constantly focus on your flaws long-term.
Red flags: When to leave & when to stay
While the red flags listed above provide some guidance in spotting potential issues in a relationship, it’s important to remember that each relationship is unique and complex in its own way.
What might be a red flag in one context, could be a totally minor issue in another – so don’t let one red flag present in your own relationship be the end of everything.
It’s also crucial to remember that people do have the capacity to change and grow, plus nobody’s perfect. One red (or amber) flag does not necessarily equate to a doomed relationship. In many cases, these warning signs can serve as catalysts for conversations that lead to better understanding, mutual growth, and stronger bonds.
However, if these red flags persist despite addressing them openly and honestly, it might be indicative of deeper issues that require professional help or reconsideration of the relationship itself.