Some relationship red flags are blatantly obvious. Think along the lines of a partner who is pro-cheating, or perhaps really bad with money. These issues almost always lead to problems down the road. But sometimes, equally unhealthy red flags can be a lot more subtle. They may even seem kinda sweet, or totally harmless. And yet, they can still wreak havoc on your relationship.
I'm talking about the bad habits and misunderstandings that — instead of being talked about or examined — are deemed "cute" or "inevitable." Take, for example, the fact that your partner never ever answers their phone. If communication is important to you (and it should be), this "harmless" red flag can become quite the issue. Same goes for clinginess in a relationship, or your partner's tendency to turn you into the butt of a joke. (Again, kinda cute but definitely not healthy.)
Small issues like these are not only unhealthy in and of themselves, but they can also be a symptom of a bigger problem. As psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez says, "These problematic behaviors that are often indicative of larger problems and unhealthy functioning and attitudes towards what a relationship and a partner is." In other words, they may seem harmless, but that doesn't make them OK. Read on for a few more examples, and get ready to talk to your partner should any of them stand out.
1. You Constantly Catch Them Checking Out Other People
We're all human, so it's totally normal to give beautiful strangers the ol' once over. But that doesn't mean your partner should be ogling everyone they see. As Samantha Daniels, professional matchmaker and founder of The Dating Lounge Dating App tells me, this is especially true if your partner seems to have turned up their flirting game. It may be a subtle (or not so subtle?) sign that infidelity is right around the corner.
2. They Keep Referring To You "Perfect"
While this is cute the first two times (OK, maybe even the first 10 times), constantly being referred to as "perfect" can get a bit weird. It's also a big red flag, since undying admiration often points to your partner's inability to see (or appreciate) your flaws, according to relationships writer Claire Hannum on SELF. When you're no longer a "real" person to your SO, things have officially taken an unhealthy turn.
3. They Consistently Let You Down In Little Ways
It may not seem like a big deal if your partner doesn't call, or if they forget to text when they said they would. But, as licensed clinical professional counselor Julienne Derichs tells me, little issues like these can add up over time — and can even point to a bigger problem with communication. Since nothing is more important in a relationship, don't let forgotten phone calls or a lack of texts go on ignored.
4. You Have Yet To Meet The Fam
Not everyone is close with their family, so it's not the end of the world if you've yet to meet the parents. But if your partner's family is adorably close-knit, and yet you're never invited over, don't feel bad about bringing it up. Your partner should want to show you off, Daniels tells me. An unwillingness to do so may be a sign of an unwillingness to commit. And that can really hurt.
5. You Can't Stop Rolling Your Eyes
According to Hannum, research has shown that among married couples, eye rolling is often a common predictor of divorce. So take note if your eyes are about to roll right on out of your head. It may mean you've had just about enough of each other.
6. They Can't Stop Talking About Their Ex
Your partner's ex was a part of their life, so it's normal for them to occasionally come up during the course of conversation. It's not normal, however, for your partner to talk about them 24/7. As Derichs tells me, it may be a sign that they aren't over that relationship, or that the ex has come back into the picture. Whatever the case, it's definitely a red flag worth pointing out.
7. They Never Post About You Online
Every couple is different, so if you two aren't big into sharing your lives online, that's totally OK. But take note if it seems like your partner is keeping you a secret. "If your partner avoids posting couple photos of the two of you but is otherwise active on social media, ask about it," psychologist Antonio Borrello told Brittany Wong, a relationship editor on HuffingtonPost.com. "[It could be they're] hiding you to maintain the appearance of being unattached.” (Yikes.)
8. You Have Different Ideas About Money
If you two can't figure out how to split the bill for dinner, how do you expect to make bigger financial decisions down the road? Well, you kind of can't. So pay attention to any money-related misunderstandings that crop up, and talk about them ASAP. According to Hannum, it is possible to (eventually) figure out what's what and come to a healthier financial understanding.
9. They Don't Respect Your Personal Space
Even though you two have sex and sleep next to each other and share a bathroom, it's still important to respect each other's personal space. So beware a partner who doesn't seem to have any boundaries, or who doesn't listen when you tell them to stop touching you. "This might be a sign they don't respect your right to your own body and could try to push those boundaries to much more dangerous limits in the future," Hannum said.
10. You Bicker Over Everything And Anything
Fights and arguments are inventible in all relationships, so go ahead and hash things out in a healthy way. Don't get stuck, however, in a situation where 24/7 battles begin to feel normal. As Daniels tells me, constant disagreements are often a sign of underlying tension that needs to be discussed.
11. They Demand All Of Your Time
Again, this one seems incredibly sweet at first. ("Aww, he/she simply can't get enough of me!") But partners who demand all of your time — especially those who keep you from seeing friends and family — often have more nefarious goals in mind. So take note if they get extra clingy, according to Hannum. It may be time to peace out before things get even more controlling.
The last thing you want to do is ignore red flags such as these. They're there (and bright red) for a reason. So if you spot one, have a talk with your partner as soon as possible. Once your concerns are out in the open, it may be possible to work through them together. Or, it may simply be time to break up.
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