As the old saying goes, hindsight truly is 20/20: an adage that is especially pertinent when it comes to looking back on our past relationships. After the initial sadness, anger, and pain of a breakup, it's normal to reflect on what your relationship was like and try to figure out what went wrong — which usually includes trying to retroactively identify any relationship red flags you might not have noticed (or even some that you blissfully ignored). Even long after you've totally moved on from a breakup, it's still super frustrating to realize (too late) that you overlooked some seriously sus behavior from an ex.
There's no need to beat yourself up over it, though: it's always easier to recognize patterns of bad behavior from the outside looking in — and a recent AskReddit thread emphasizes just how easy and common it is for people to miss red flags in their own relationships. Users' stories of the red flags they ignored (and how those relationships later went awry) are all the proof you need that sweeping problems and bad behaviors under the rug will not do your relationship any favors in the long run.
"You should never brush away red flags in a relationship because red flags do not go away," celebrity renowned relationship expert Audrey Hope tells Bustle. "They don’t fade with time and instead only grow brighter, getting so big that it could be too late to handle by then."
It's not always easy to recognize red flag behaviors, and it's even harder to call your partner out for them. But if you don't, those problems will linger in the background until, eventually, your relationship crumbles under their weight. If you're not what to be on the lookout for, here are 16 examples of red flags in a relationship.
They're Straight-Up Mean
We all have our off days, but if you notice that your partner can be nasty no matter the occasion, that's a red flag that they're not just having a bad day — they're just plain old mean, which is not an attractive quality in anyone, let alone a partner.
You Clash With Their Family
It's OK if you don't get super close with every single member of your partner's fam — but if you clash, fight, or just can't get along and your partner doesn't take your side, it could be a red flag that this relationship isn't the right fit for you long-term.
They're Secretive About Where They Live
OK, so not everyone you meet will be a hoarder, but if someone you're dating blatantly avoids bringing you home for some reason, listen to your gut if something feels off.
You Feel Like You're Walking On Eggshells
In a healthy relationship, you should never feel afraid to express your thoughts and feelings to your partner. If you avoid doing or saying things because you fear your partner's reaction, that's a glaring red flag that your partner is toxic.
They've Cheated In The Past
Although it is possible for a cheater to change their ways, it's nonetheless a red flag if your partner has cheated in the past — and it's especially sketchy if you find out through the grapevine rather than from your partner.
They Treat You Differently Around Others
In a relationship, both people should feel free to be their authentic selves at all times. If a partner acts differently or treats you differently around certain people, that's a red flag that they're not being genuine with someone — and TBH, whether they're "fake" around you or around others is irrelevant.
They Lack Empathy
Some people are just more empathetic than others by nature... but that doesn't mean that it's OK if your partner is completely unempathetic towards you when you need a shoulder to cry on.
They Don't Have Interests Outside The Relationship
There's nothing wrong with enjoying your partner's company and valuing your time together. But if someone has zero interests or hobbies outside of their relationship, that's a red flag.
They Have A Temper
If your partner has a temper with others, beware: it could be a sign that they'll someday get that angry with you, too. Every couple will disagree and argue from time to time, but if you can't control your anger during a fight, then you're never going to be able to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
They Have A Habit Of Lying
Building a foundation of trust in a relationship is crucial for it to thrive, and if you notice that your partner has a habit of lying — even small, white lies — that's a red flag that they're not trustworthy when it comes to the big stuff, too.
Of course, the tricky part about identifying red flags in a relationship is that they don't look the same for everyone: we all have different dealbreakers and things we won't tolerate in a relationship, so naturally what we see as red flags will vary. But no matter what the red flags in your own relationship are, what's really important is that you feel confident enough to communicate your concerns to your partner — and how they react to your concerns will tell you all you need to know about how healthy (or not) your relationship is.