11 subtle behaviors men display in relationships that are major red flags

Reflecting on my dating days, I realize I missed so many red flags (or most likely, chose to ignore them).

You see, I was highly insecure and desperate to be in a relationship. So, although I could sense that the guys I was dating were toxic, I tried to convince myself otherwise.

You know, when you know in your heart that someone isn’t good for you, but you find yourself texting them back anyway…

If you’re currently in that situation, this article is for you.

Sometimes, we need someone to lay all the relationship red flags out in front of us for us to realize we are wasting our time and hurting ourselves.

So here you go… 

1) Coming on too strong

Relationships progress at different rates, but something apparent in all toxic relationships is the guy being too pushy.

Yep, I’m talking about the guys that want to get physically intimate right away.

They only want one thing from you. And they certainly don’t respect you.


You can choose to respect yourself and walk away.

2) Blowing hot and cold

This is one of the most frustrating behaviors you encounter when dating.

Sometimes, guys blow hot and cold because they don’t want to commit or they are seeing other people.

But sometimes, it’s a sign that they are trying to manipulate you.

Think about it for a sec…

When a guy acts interested one minute and then is totally unavailable the next, how does it make you feel?

Uncertain, confused, off-balance?

Yeah, that’s precisely how they want you to feel.

Manipulators purposely blow hot and cold to make you feel unsure and insecure about where the relationship is going. 


Because every time they withdraw, you feel more and more desperate. 

As a result, you try harder to please them and become more likely to let them mistreat you, giving them the power and control they seek.

3) Frequently canceling on you 

Another major red flag is when a guy proves he cannot stay true to his word. 

Does he make plans with you and then cancel at the last minute?

Does he promise to meet you at places and never turn up?

If so, this guy is not serious about having a relationship with you.

Like blowing hot and cold, he could be doing this to manipulate and gain control over you.

Or, he could be seeing other women.

Regardless of the reason, it’s a major red flag that you shouldn’t ignore.

4) Only talking about himself

If someone is seriously into you, you will have balanced conversations.

He will ask you questions and genuinely want to hear about your day.

So what if he doesn’t let you get a word in or looks bored whenever you talk about your life?

Well, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), this is a common trait of narcissism, known as grandiosity (or superiority).

You see, narcissists only care about themselves. 

They only consider themselves when making decisions, and in conversations, everything they say will be about them.

Not only this, but they constantly seek admiration and validation from others.

So, if your man is always bragging about their achievements and blowing their own trumpet, you should reconsider your relationship!

Here’s another sign of a narcissistic man…

5) Acting obsessed with their looks

There is a massive difference between being confident and being egoistic.

Confidence is being comfortable and secure in yourself; egotism is having an inflated opinion of yourself (and, in this case, your looks).

This is linked to a type of narcissist known as a somatic narcissist.

Psychotherapist Katherine Schafler explains that a somatic narcissist uses their physical body to express their superiority, typically by displaying their physical attributes in attention-grabbing ways.

So they will appear obsessed with their looks by:

  • Constantly checking themselves out in a mirror
  • Always adjusting their hair or clothing
  • Fishing compliments 
  • Dressing in a way to show off their muscles

6) Being rude to service staff

If you want to understand if a guy is decent or toxic, watch how he acts around people in low-paid jobs, such as service staff.

Here’s why…

Narcissistic people have what psychologists call “fragile high self-esteem.” Sometimes, it’s high, and other times, it’s low.

When it’s low, they cannot validate themselves. So they seek ways to boost their self-image – one of their favorites is to put other people down.

While they see everyone as lower than them, the easiest targets are those in the service industry.

This is why if you’re on a date with a guy and he is rude or condescending to the wait staff, you should not ignore it – this is a red flag!

7) Being excessively sarcastic 

Look, I’m British – I’m always game for sarcasm – but in moderation.

If a guy is being overly sarcastic, cracking hurtful joke after hurtful joke, this is NOT banter.

Guys use excessive sarcasm to lower your feelings of self-worth, making them feel in control in the relationship, explains Dulcinea Pitagora, a licensed psychotherapist and sex therapist.

Again, it is all about their fragile high self-esteem. If they are not feeling good about themselves, they will want you to feel bad about yourself, too.

This behavior also sets the stage for the prevalent manipulative tactic – gaslighting.

Yep, when you tell them to stop insulting you, they will claim that you’re “too sensitive” and “can’t take a joke,” leading you to question yourself and your reactions. 

8) Bashing his ex

We’ve all had nightmare exes. But we typically have enough self-awareness to realize the aspects of our past relationships that were our fault.

So, if a guy claims all his exes are crazy, and he never did anything wrong… well, there is no easier way to say this than RUN AWAY NOW.

This is a significant sign that the guy lacks so much emotional intelligence that he cannot see his mistakes and faults, let alone admit them.

This gives you a lot of insight into what a relationship with them will be like. They will likely blame you for everything, and you’ll end up labeled a “crazy ex,” too.

Men who lack this much emotional intelligence and self-awareness will likely display the following behavior, too…

9) Being unwilling to compromise

Compromise is a sign of both emotional maturity and respect for our partner.

However, when you’re dating someone with a heightened sense of entitlement, they will never compromise with you.

With a guy like this, it is their way or the highway.

This is a major red flag because it shows that the man doesn’t respect or value your feelings, needs, and opinions. 

You can notice this subtly at the beginning of the relationship, saving you a lot of heartache in the long run.

Think about the small decisions you make with them, such as:

  • What to eat for dinner
  • What movie to watch
  • What restaurant to go to

If they are always the decision maker and reject your input, they certainly won’t consider you when making bigger decisions. 

If you were to stay with this guy, the relationship would become unbalanced and one-sided, resulting in resentment and unmet needs.

10) Arguing over little things

Now, this might be an unpopular opinion. But as someone who has experienced both toxic and healthy relationships, I believe arguments in the early stages of a relationship are a HUGE red flag.

The beginning of a relationship is meant to be the honeymoon period when things are great. So, if you are already arguing about little things now, imagine what it will be like in one year!

I’ve seen friends in this situation, and when I bring it up, they claim it’s because they are both so passionate.

Now, I get that two fiery people can result in intense rows, but these should be over serious issues, not things like someone forgetting to text back or being 5 minutes late.

To me, excessive arguing shows a lack of emotional maturity. And speaking from experience, being with an emotionally immature man almost always becomes a toxic relationship.

And talking about immaturity…

11) Avoiding “the talk”

Maybe this is another unpopular opinion, but when a man says he doesn’t want a serious relationship, 9 times out of 10, it’s because he lacks emotional maturity. 

If your man always changes the subject whenever you try to talk about the relationship or becomes awkward when you suggest making future plans, this is a red flag.

When this happened to me, I convinced myself that he just wasn’t ready to get serious and that the relationship would progress with time.

It never happened. 

These guys love playing the field and are not interested in settling down. 

So, if a serious relationship is what you’re after, please don’t waste your time on a man who won’t show commitment from the get-go.

Final thoughts

Let’s be honest; there are lots of toxic men out there. So, it is down to us to be vigilant when dating someone new. 

Whether you’ve been on one, ten, or more dates with a man who displays several of these behaviors, don’t ignore it. Red flags like these are not “act with caution” warnings but rather loud alarms alerting you of inevitable danger!

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space.
I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of
words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

I’m 42, still single, and have been emotionally unavailable in my relationships throughout my adult life. It’s time for me to apologise.

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