9 Seemingly Small Relationship Red Flags That Are Actually A Much Bigger Deal Than You Think

by Kristine Fellizar
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Everyone has their own set of relationship red flags and dealbreakers to look out for. Although it's easy to brush off some of your partner's questionable habits, experts say it's important to always pay attention to what's really going on in your relationship. Sometimes, seemingly small red flags can indicate bigger problems without you realizing it.

"The key here is knowing if bad behavior is a blip or a pattern," Constance Dunn, MA, relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. "Little red flags can be chalked up to a momentary bit of bad behavior, or to showcase for the fact that the person [...] has issues that need to be worked out."

According to Dunn, tales of bad relationships tend to have this one phrase in common: I knew, but I didn't want to know. "When an otherwise dreamy date [wasn't kind] to the server or gaped at other people, people like to tell themselves that maybe the whole thing was a misunderstanding. Or worse, the date sucked — but the good things about it temporarily cancelled out the bad," she says. "Deep down, however, they knew otherwise because their heart kind of sunk."

Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell whether someone's behavior is actually problematic or not. So here are some seemingly small relationship red flags that are actually a much bigger deal than you think, according to experts.


Your Partner Can't Seem To Get Enough Of You

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It may not seem like a bad thing to have a partner's who's very into you — and in many cases, it's not. But there's a difference between a "harmonious" or healthy passion and one that's obsessive. According to Suzie and James Pawelski, co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts it's common to have intense attraction and passion for your partner, especially at the beginning. But as time goes on, these feelings should transform into something much deeper. An obsessive passion on the other hand, is when your partner loses interest in everything else in their life but you. But those feelings may not lead to a long-lasting relationship. "Thriving relationships tend to be sustained by a calmer, healthier type of passion," the Pawelskis tell Bustle. "If over time, one is still experiencing intense, all-consuming feelings they may be experiencing obsessive passion rather than a healthy passion." It's important to note that's not about how much passion you have for each other, but rather if that passion becomes all-consuming and potentially codependent.


Your Relationship Takes Up A Majority Of Your Time

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If you want your relationship to work, you need to be spend time with your partner. But if that time spent together has stopped you from having a life outside of your relationship, this could be a sign that you have lost yourself in an unhealthy way. As the Pawelskis say, this can lead to codependency in your relationship, which is not conducive to building long-term love. "It's interdependency, not dependency, which is associated with thriving sustainable romantic relationships," they say. "Couples who continue to engage in their individual interests and connect with close friends and family are more likely to cultivate a healthier, deeper love that will last."


Your Partner Tends To Focus On The Negative More Than The Positive

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If your partner always expects the worst out of situations or people, that's a red flag to watch out for. "While it may be just the way your person is, it can do harm to you in the long-run," transformational life coach and relationship expert, Cindy Shaw, tells Bustle. You may not realize it, but spending time with someone who is constantly negative can lead you to accepting this negativity as the norm. This can also be a problem if your partner has self-sabotaging beliefs — if times get rough, they may give up more easily than someone who's more optimistic.


They Push The Limits Of Your Physical Boundaries

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If your partner pushes physical boundaries — no matter how — after you've told them to stop, that is a major red flag to be addressed, especially if they are being sexually coercive. "This may initially appear as playful behavior," Amica Graber, relationship expert with TruthFinder, tells Bustle. But if someone doesn't respect your physical boundaries when you're in a playful mood, they likely won't respect it when you're being serious. Consent is important. If you say no once, your partner shouldn't do things with the intent of making you change your mind, even if they do it playfully. If you're with someone who doesn't respect consent, just remember that it's a form of sexual abuse, and seeking help from loved ones or even a therapist may be the best course to leaving the relationship.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit


They Make Seemingly Harmless Jokes At Your Expense

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You may not think it's a huge deal if your partner makes an offhanded comment about your appearance or your intellect. They may even say it in a "joking" way. But as Graber says, a respectful partner will never put you down even in a light-hearted way. There are ways to tease your partner that don't involve name-calling or making potentially hurtful digs.


You're Nowhere To Be Found In Their Social Media

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If you've been exclusively dating for a while but there's no mention of you at all in their social media, they may be hiding you. "This begs the question, why are they hiding you and who from?" Graber says. It really depends on how your partner uses social media — if they use it solely for work purposes, you may not need to worry as much. But if your partner's social media habits include posting photos and tagging friends and you're not mentioned anywhere, it's a red flag to pay attention to.


You Give In To Them More Than They Give In To You

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If your partner always chooses which movie you're going to see and never seems to take your opinions into consideration, your relationship may just be all about them. "A relationship is about compromise," Graber says. "If they won't ever give up what they want, it's a bad omen about the future of your relationship."


They've Told Small Lies About Their Spending Habits

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If you're looking to spend the rest of your life with someone, their money situation is something they need to be honest about. Small lies about how much something really costs may not seem like a big deal, but it can signal trouble in the future. "It is normal and appropriate for parties to have different priorities in terms of how they like to spend their discretionary funds, but it is important to be honest about all such expenses," matrimonial lawyers, Kelly Frawley and Emily Pollock, tell Bustle. "You don’t want to learn down the line that there is an account or asset you are not aware of, and that you could be financially responsible for should you get married."


The People Closest To You Don't Like Your Partner

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Your friends and your family members aren't dating your partner, so their opinions may not matter to you that much. But as divorce mediator and coach, Dori Shwirtz, tells Bustle, having the closest people to you not like or even accept your partner is a major red flag that's often ignored. "It may mean there's something wrong with your partner that you can't see," she says. "Just the stress of your close friends or family not accepting the person you've chosen may lead to huge clashes and problems in the future."

Red flags are red flags for a reason. If you're looking at your partner as someone you want long-term, you need to pay attention to them. If you feel like there's good long-term potential, Dunn says you should do your best to clear any potential issues right away. "Be kind and have compassion," she says. "If the person [...] says 'it's no big deal,' consider it a dealbreaker."

Paying close attention to red flags can help take your relationship from potentially toxic to healthy. So don't sweep bad behavior, no matter how small, under the rug.