12 relationship red flags even the smartest people miss

Red flags are things that many of us learn to recognize as we get more experienced in relationships.

But sometimes, there are signs that even the smartest and most experienced of us miss.

In this article I will tell you about 12 such red flags, and why they’re so dangerous.

1) Always asking for your approval

Now there’s nothing wrong with always asking your partner for their opinion on things.

Asking “Do you think this shirt looks good on me?” and “Do you think I should take this scholarship?” are just part and parcel of being in a healthy relationship.

The problem lies when it simply gets too much—when it starts feeling like they simply can’t act without your approval.

This is a sign that they might have self-esteem issues.

Before you know it, they’ll transform themselves just to impress you, and maybe even expect you to return the favor and always ask for their approval, too. Expect to hear something like “I ask your opinion before I do something, why can’t you do the same to me?” and make you feel guilty for every little thing.

The reason why even smart people can not just miss this—but even mistake it for a green flag—is because it’s sweet…and it’s hard to tell when too much is just too much.

2) Zoning out when you talk

When you’re talking in person, their eyes wander. When you’re chatting online, they would go quiet when it’s your turn to talk.

They might nod along, only to try to change the topic as soon as they can…or to keep talking without taking into account anything you had said.

This can mean that they simply have a low attention span, of course. But if you see them being very attentive towards others but not you, it likely means that they’re just not that into you.

They might care for you before but are now starting to lose interest. But what’s more important is you. Ask yourself—can you be happy with someone who doesn’t pay attention to what you have to say?

3) Complaining about others all the time

This is a red flag that’s easy to miss because they’re not attacking you, but other people.

In fact, you might not even perceive it as them attacking anyone—you might just think that they simply have a frustrating life and they’re (rightfully) venting about it to you.

But make no mistake. It is a red flag, and it shows what kind of person they truly are, that of a chronically unhappy gossip.

And don’t think that just because you’re together, you’re immune from being the subject of their whining. They have likely complained about you to their friends at least once or twice.

Moreover, this behavior is also infectious. You’ll start to become a chronic complainer yourself without you realizing it.

4) Mood shifting when you mention certain people

They would be happy and bouncy around you all day, but the moment you mention a certain friend or colleague, their mood suddenly changes. They might even start snapping at you.

It’s almost like they’re upset you even thought about them!

This is a red flag showing that they’re jealous, manipulative, and emotionally immature.

Sometimes even smart people fail to see this as a red flag because they find their partner’s jealousy cute.

It might start small at first, but don’t be surprised if, ten years down the line, they’re suddenly telling you who you can and cannot be friends with.

5) Always being “tired”

If your relationship is still new and you can clearly see that they’re not as tired as they should be—no depression or chronic illness—and yet, they always say they’re tired, then this might be a sign of incompatibility.

This can tell you that they’re lazy.

Sure, it doesn’t affect you too much now when you still don’t have responsibilities like pets and kids, but imagine living with someone who’s clearly not doing their part because they’re always tired.

Most people don’t see this as a red flag because it’s not so big a deal, but be prepared that you’ll do most of the work—from finding money, cleaning the house, and initiating sex. Well…are you?

6) Always being busy

Whether they’re actually busy or they’re just using their “busyness” as an excuse, this can be a red flag.

Smart and ambitious people often mistake this as a good trait. After all, don’t we want to have a partner who’s hard working?

But the keyword here is ALWAYS. If they’re always busy while you’re still in your honeymoon phase, and you see no real reason for them to actually BE busy— like a job transition or sick parents they need to attend to—they’ll never be NOT busy.

If they truly love you, they will take some time out of their busy lives to tend to you and your relationship. Attention is the most important gift, after all.

7) Not being able to say “sorry” without blaming you a little

This is often overlooked because like the other signs in this list, it can be easily mistaken for a green flag.

They’ll say “I’m sorry I sent flirty messages to my ex…BUT why were you snooping around my phone? You don’t respect my privacy.”

You might nod along and go “wait, that’s fair—I did violate their privacy, right? I’m not entirely in the right here, right?”

But there’s a reason why this is a red flag. In fact, it’s known in arguments as a logical fallacy called “tu quoque.” They’re doing it to shame you into shutting down and leaving them alone.

And the thing is…they probably don’t even truly believe that they were in the wrong.

8) Telling you that you’re their savior

Even smart people get blinded by this. It’s something that, for a lot of us, simply seems like a romantic thing to say.

And on top of that, it’s a bit of an ego booster. It places them in a position to make you feel like someone special.

So why is this a red flag?

Showering people with praise is one common form of manipulation. They’ll make you feel like you’re their savior so that you’ll keep being the best partner in the world…even if they don’t deserve it, even when they get a little abusive. You wouldn’t want to lose your “Savior” medal, after all.

9) Lack of enthusiasm when you share about your accomplishments

It’s difficult to spot this right away. It can be hard to tag this as a red flag even after you’ve been together for years.

And that’s because there’s always a part of us who will question ourselves and go “what were they meant to say anyways?” or “it’s not like it’s even that interesting.”

But as time goes on, and you have simply come to accept it when they ignore your accomplishments, they might even get comfortable enough to DIMINISH those same achievements.

They might roll their eyes and say “You’re so obsessed about your career. Work is just work, you know?”

This is something that should tell you that they simply aren’t as interested in you as you think they are. And that, of course, that they are very insecure.

10) Being too “devoted” in the relationship

Things are exciting at the start of any relationship so it’s understandable for it to be your whole world. At that point, you’re still high on the joy of being in a relationship.

And so…it’s hard to see it as a red flag at first. And truth be told, being devoted to your relationship isn’t a red flag… until it’s gone on for way too long.

If a year or three later, their world still revolves around the relationship to the point that they have nothing else in their lives, then it’s totally unhealthy.

What will likely happen is that both of you will stop growing and you’ll settle into a codependent relationship that’s hard to break out of.

11) Being overly friendly to your friends and family

There’s friendly, and then there’s overly friendly.

And yes, it does seem nice at first (not a red flag at all!) because…who doesn’t want a partner who wants to get closer to your loved ones? But then it seems like they’re doing it with a motive other than friendship.

I’m not talking about them flirting with your friends, I’m talking about them possibly trying to get closer so they can have the perks.

Perks like being free to ask them for favors— like knowing where you are or rallying their support in an argument against you.

12) Saying “it’s for your own good”

They’d make decisions for you and tell you that they’re only doing it because they care enough for you—that only if their love for you is lesser, they wouldn’t even bother.

A partner who makes decisions for you, or is abusive towards you, and then justifies it as a form of love can ruin you.

Love is founded on mutual respect, and if one makes actions on the behalf of the other without their consent, then they are simply disrespecting their partner.

Besides, why would they be in a relationship with someone if they can’t trust you to make your own sound decisions, after all? If someone truly isn’t capable of that, then perhaps they shouldn’t be in a relationship.

Last words

Many red flags fly under our noses because either they can easily pass as green flags, or simply because they’ve been so normalized we don’t even realize that they’re wrong.

So keep an eye out for these signs. But hey, don’t get too paranoid!

You might shoo away a great partner just because you’re too rigid.

Use this sign as a guide on what to watch out for, but don’t assume that someone is automatically bad for you when they exhibit one or two of these signs. Only time will tell.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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