When you're just starting to date someone new, it's normal to be on the lookout for signs your relationship won't last — because it really sucks to get emotionally invested in someone who has no long-term potential. It's easy to get caught up in the thrill of being in a new relationship, but even if you're in the honeymoon phase, it's important to be able to view your partner without rose-colored glasses when necessary. There are certain red flag behaviors that can indicate whether or not someone is a healthy, loving, fulfilling partner for you — and your sex life is one area that says a lot about your relationship.
"Sexual intimacy is very important in relationships because it's one of the most basic human needs and desires," David Bennett, Certified Counselor, Relationship Expert, and Owner of The Popular Man and The Popular Teen, tells Bustle. "Humans are wired for sexual intimacy, and not having healthy sexual intimacy can negatively impact a person's emotional and physical well-being."
As long as both partners are willing to communicate and work together on any intimacy issues they experience, some problems or bad bedroom behaviors don't have to spell doom for your relationship. But if you're looking for clues that your partner might not be right person for you long-term, examining how your partner treats you in bed is a great place to start: here are eight sexual and intimacy-related habits that are serious red flags.
They're Unwilling To Try New Things
In a healthy sexual relationship, both partners should feel comfortable enough with each other to talk about what they like/dislike in bed, and discuss the sexual things they want to try. If your partner is unwilling to experiment in bed (or even talk about it), it could be a sign that they're either uncomfortable with you, or even reluctant to share new experiences with you.
"If your partner refuses to try anything new in the bedroom that could be an indicator of a closed attitude about other things," Bennett says. "This level of closed-mindedness and rigidity could ultimately spell trouble later on in other areas of a relationship."
They Guilt Trip Or Shame You
When it comes to sex, guilt-tripping and slut-shaming are absolutely off limits. If your new partner tries to manipulate you by making you feel guilty during sex, that's a huge red flag that they are toxic.
"If your partner guilt trips or shames you for not enjoying the same sexual turn-ons as they do, that's a sign your partner may use guilt and shame as communication tactics, which are not healthy for any long-term relationship," Bennett says.
They Don't Respect Your Boundaries
A healthy sex life is dependent on trust and comfort, two things you can never have if your partner regularly crosses sexual boundaries you put in place. Never tolerate someone who ignores your boundaries and limits — that's a massive warning sign.
"[It's a red flag] if your new partner doesn’t respect any physical limits you set about sex or intimacy," Brooke Bralove, LCSW, Psychotherapist and Sex Therapist, tells Bustle. "[For example] you tell him/her that you don’t want your breasts to be touched and they ignore your request to stop."
They Call You Demeaning Names
Unless one of your kinks is being called a slut during sex (which is totally normal, BTW) and you've discussed it with your partner, it's not a good sign if your partner calls you demeaning names and/or verbally abuses you in the bedroom.
"[It's a red flag] if your new partner calls you demeaning names (against your wishes) during and surrounding sex, [like] 'slut' and 'whore'," Bralove says. Barring situations where someone specifically consents to it, being called demeaning names during sex indicates a pretty clear lack of respect... especially if any requests to stop are ignored.
They Avoid Eye Contact During Sex
Sex doesn't have to be a stare-down, but a little eye contact during sex is super intimate. If your partner avoids your gaze in the bedroom, it could be an indicator that they're either not sexually comfortable with you yet, or don't want to feel super close to you. Or, if they insist you don't make eye contact, that could be an even bigger, more sinister red flag.
"[It's a red flag] if your new partner demands that you either do not look at [them] during sex or [they] insist on you wearing a blindfold," Bralove says. "This can indicate a tendency... to dominate, dehumanize, or disorient you to gain control with the threat of violation."
They Blame You If They Don't Finish
If there's ever a time when either you or your partner doesn't reach orgasm, it should be something that's NBD — 'we'll get 'em next time!' — but if your partner doesn't finish and then places the blame on you, that's a big red flag.
"[It's a red flag] if your new partner blames you if you don’t help [them] orgasm," Bralove says. [For example], 'No one has ever failed to give me an orgasm before. What’s wrong with you?'"
They Shame/Ridicule You For Not Finishing
On the flip side, if you don't finish and your partner mocks you for it or attempts to shame you, that's a different (but equally large) red flag.
"[It's a red flag] if your new partner ridicules you if you are unable to have an orgasm with [them]," Bralove says. If you don't finish, a toxic partner will deflect blame: e.g. because they've made all their past partners orgasm, something must be wrong with you. It's BS — don't tolerate it.
How To Know If Your Partner Is A Bad Egg
Ultimately, the way to tell if your partner has long-term potential isn't as simple as identifying all the potential red flags: what's more important is how your partner reacts when you bring up your concerns about their behavior.
"Any and all of the above behaviors do not indicate that your partner SEES you," Bralove says. "It doesn’t show that [they're] willing to be patient, loving, and gentle with you. Any behavior that feels demeaning to you IS demeaning to you. Go with your gut instinct. If [your partner] seems only interested in [their] own orgasm, then [they're] not a good long term investment. Sex and intimacy are about connection, pleasure, and fun."
On their own, any of these intimacy problems can be solved by a couple that communicates well, respects each other, and is willing to put in the effort to make things work. But if you feel that your partner's bad behaviors outnumber the good ones, then trust your gut, and don't invest more time in someone who isn't a good long-term fit for you.