The dating world can be tough. Which is probably exactly why sometimes, when we think we’ve finally found someone, we can overlook some of the very common, but unexpected red flags in our romantic relationships. Of course, there is no general rule of thumb for every single relationship — and what’s a red flag for one person might be a “green flag” for someone else.
And while of course there are always going to be little things that irk you about everyone (maybe the way they slurp their cereal or leave the bed unmade), there are bigger things to look for that are signs of an unhealthy, or even just unbalanced relationship. And the sooner you know how to spot them, the less likely you’ll get involved in toxic partnerships and will find a relationship that makes you truly happy. Because that’s the goal right?
So without further ado, here are some unexpected red flags to look out for in a romantic relationship.
1They shower you with gifts and gestures.
Yes, everyone loves being showered with attention now and again and romantic gestures can be absolutely lovely. But remember in Friends when Rachel gets a new job and Ross won’t stop sending flowers and barbershop quartets to her work because he’s jealous? Sometimes too much attention is a way to control a partner or overcompensation for jealousy. If they’re showing up at your job with flowers every day so all of your co-workers know you’re “taken,” you need to do a gut check to see if it’s creepy or cute. The attention can be a way to isolate you from your people, which is a major sign of an emotionally abusive relationship.
2You’re scared to talk about things.
Your body will tell you when you’re in a bad or tricky situation. If you get nervous or scared to talk to your partner because they might get mad, or upset, or start yet another fight just because you don’t really want to go get sushi for the third time in a month, that’s not a good sign. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around a person, it could be a sign that you’re dealing with a major personality disorder.
3Everything is an issue.
When you meet someone, pay attention to how they deal with stress or even minor inconveniences. Coming home to rant about their bad day at work is one thing, but taking it out on you, yelling, or slamming things to express frustration is not. Did they yell at a waiter for bringing the wrong order? Have a temper tantrum about the dry cleaner not being able to deliver on a Sunday? Be conscious about how much drama you can handle and how dangerous it can get.
4They TELL you they’re not in a good place.
Maya Angelou famously said that when people tell you who they are, listen to them. And believe it. If someone says they just got out a relationship and don’t know what they want right now from a partner, they don’t know what they want and there’s no way you’re going to convince them. Likewise if they tell you that they’re a “mess right now.” A lot of times the red flags aren’t actually all that hard to see — we’re just good at ignoring them.
5You aren’t included in their life.
If you’ve been dating for a month or two, you should have met at least one friend by now. Or at least tagged in an Instagram photo. If your new partner is all over social media, for example, and is liking, posting, tagging, and commenting all over but you’re not included in that? That’s a problem. Likewise if they keep their social life with their friends and their time with you completely separate. Check yourself and see if that sits OK with you (sometimes people prefer it that way).
6They laugh at you.
When you talk to your new partner about your goals, or dreams, are they laughing at you? Belittling someone is mean and could turn into a more emotionally dangerous place for you to be in. Light teasing and chiding in good fun is one thing (if you like banter), but they should support the things that make you YOU, like your dream to climb to the top of the ladder at work, or even just your desire try out a hot yoga class.
7Everything is always someone else’s fault.
If you find that your partner is somehow never to blame, get as far away as you can. If their running late is never because the left the house ten minutes after they should have or the grocery store is “stupid” for not having their favorite granola in stock, that stuff could eventually all become your fault one day.
Every relationship is different, and so are the red flags. But if something makes you uncomfortable about a person, listen to your gut and never be afraid to make a change — even if it seems scary at first.