Relationship Red Flags

Your relationship with your partner should contribute to a sense of fulfilment, happiness and connection. If you tend to feel anxious, distressed or unhappy around your partner, your relationship may be struggling.  Signs of an unhealthy relationship can vary widely, so this list is not all-inclusive but may help point out some possible issues.

One of You Tries to Control or Change the Other

We are never in control of changing another person. If you are concerned about a certain behaviour, you should feel comfortable enough to bring it up, it is ok to express your feelings and ask them to consider making some changes. But it is not ok to tell them what to do or attempt to control their behaviour. If they do something that really bothers you and you cannot accept it, the relationship may not have long-term potential.

Your Partner does not Respect Your Boundaries

Boundaries are important in any relationship, from respectful communications to privacy needs. If you set a boundary and they push against it or pressure you into changing it, this can be a serious red flag.

Example: You may have said “I need some personal space when I get home from work. I am happy to see you but I do need to de-stress a little before any affection.” But they continue to come up to you when you get home, trying to kiss you and pull you into the bedroom. When you say no, they apologize and say they cannot help themselves.

You might brush this off as a sign of affection and keep re-instating the boundary, hoping they will eventually get it. But this behaviour shows disrespect to your needs.

You Do Not Spend Much Time Together

Relationships develop when people enjoy being in each other’s company and want to spend time together. Life events can sometimes get in the way, but these changes are normally temporary. But your relationship might be struggling if you consistently see less of each other without a clear reason such as more responsibility at work. Other warning signs can include feeling distant from each other or relieved when you are not together. You might even try and find excuses to avoid spending time together.

The Relationship Feels Unequal

Healthy relationships tend to be fairly well-balanced. You might equally share finances, or balance out a lower income by running more errands. But equality can also relate to intangible things such as affection, communication and relationship expectations. Periods of inequality can happen from time to time. One of you might lose your income, struggle to keep up with chores because of illness or feel less affectionate due to stress or other emotional turmoil. If your relationship often feels unbalanced in any way, this can be problematic.

They Say Negative or Hurtful Things about You or Others

There is nothing wrong with showing concern when your partner does something that worries you. But in a healthy relationship, a partner generally takes care to express their feelings in a helpful and productive way.

It is not healthy to constantly criticize each other or say intentionally hurtful things, especially about personal choices such as food, clothing or a favourite TV show. Criticism makes you feel ashamed or bad about yourself and is unproductive. Also, note how they talk to others. Your relationship with each other could seem healthy, but if they use hate speech, slurs or make discriminatory remarks about others, consider what this behaviour says about them about a person.

You Do Not Feel Heard In the Relationship

Perhaps you feel unheard because they seem disinterested when you bring up a problem or share something that has been on your mind. Or you might have a hard time sharing your opinion or talking about serious issues because you worry they will brush you off. Miscommunication can happen, but if you do talk through an issue and they seem receptive but do not make any changes or seem to have completely forgotten what you talked about the next day, that is a warning sign.

You are Afraid of Expressing Disagreement

Partners should always feel safe to have their own opinions even when this means they do not agree. If your partner responds to your viewpoint with dismissal, contempt, or other rudeness, this often suggests they do not respect you or your ideas.

You Do Not Feel Happy or Comfortable Around Your Partner

For many people, relationship goals include increased happiness and life satisfaction. If you feel unhappy all the time, the relationship may not meet your needs. This can happen even if you both are putting effort into the relationship. People change over time, so feeling trapped does not necessarily mean either of you have done anything wrong. You may have just become different people who no longer fit well together.

Disagreements or Discussions Do Not Go Anywhere

Health conflict resolution normally leads to solutions or compromises. Maintaining a healthy relationship is an ongoing process so you may not work everything out right away. But you usually feel good about your conversations afterwards. You usually see some progress. It is generally not a good sign when you are constantly talking in circles or about the same issues all the time. There may never be any improvement no matter how much you discuss something. They may eventually just shut you out.