Dating Dating & Love Relationships

Don’t Ignore These Early Red Flags in a Relationship

We’re seeing red.

The early days of a relationship are typically filled with butterflies and bliss. All of the cute dates and deep conversations can create quite the lavender haze. But before you begin planning out your future with them, don’t ignore the early red flags in a relationship.

What are red flags in a relationship?

Relationship red flags are signs that a person won’t make for a compatible, healthy partner long-term. They’re basically attitudes or behaviors the person exhibits that may signal they’ll become untrustworthy, jealous, unreliable, or controlling down the road.

Some of these warning signs don’t rear their ugly heads until you’re already in a long-term relationship, but many appear early on – you just need to become better at sniffing them out.

It’s easy to ignore red flags when you’re new to dating, but over time, your BS meter gets a lot stronger, and the difference between green flags and red ones becomes more obvious.
Red Flags in a Relationship - angry man yelling


13 Early Red Flags in a Relationship

1. They’re consistently late to dates and/or cancel plans last minute.

Anyone who doesn’t respect your time isn’t worth your time. If your date is constantly bailing on plans or showing up 30 minutes late, it’s a sign they’re not committed to getting to know you. Or they just value other things more.

Reclaim your power and dump ’em.
Red Flags in a Relationship - woman checking the time


2. They don’t ask you questions about yourself.

Have you ever been in a conversation that feels more like a job interview because you’re the only one asking questions? It sucks.

Showing genuine interest and asking follow-up questions is a huge green flag. Anyone who doesn’t take interest in your life lacks social manners and is narcissistic. Ditch that bad dinner date for someone who treats you like you’re the only person in the room.
Red Flags in a Relationship - guy on phone on date


3. They treat others poorly when you’re out and about.

You know the type. The kind of person who acts like the waiter is their personal concierge. Or blows up at the Uber driver for taking a wrong turn.

If it happens, be grateful for this kind of intel. It is a crystal ball into a future you do not want to be a part of.
Red Flags in a Relationship - woman looking distracted


4. They brag…a lot.

Do you ever meet someone and you can just tell they’re overcompensating? And every single comment alludes to their status or wealth?

A future with them will be a life of stroking their fragile ego. And if you wanted that, you would go on a date with Elon Musk. If he’s got to be insufferable, he can at least be rich.
Red Flags in a Relationship - woman bragging


5. They show *too* much interest in you early on (aka love bombing).

This red flag is particularly hard to swallow because it feels so good. The inner Disney princess in all of us wants to believe we actually are amazing enough to make our date instantly obsessed with us.

But unfortunately, it’s likely a ploy to make you obsessed with them. 

All the compliments, grand gestures and over-the-top emotional expressions are manipulations to get you wrapped around their finger. It’s called love bombing and it’s a red flag.
Red Flags in a Relationship - love bombing


6. They can’t laugh off minorly bad situations.

Most of us want a partner who can weather the storm. You’re looking for a person who can handle life’s challenges with grace…or at least a sense of humor.

If your date is angry that you accidentally ordered a pizza with all the toppings instead of no toppings – rather than laughing it off – they’re going to be a difficult person to please in a relationship.
Red Flags in a Relationship - guy mad about broken cup


7. They come across as judgmental or condescending about your life.

Do they look down upon things you’re proud of, like your career choices or hobbies? If so, you’re probably in for a relationship filled with judgment.

This kind of person is not only critical, but could eventually become controlling because they think their way of living is the right way. The moment they start making snide remarks about your passion for selling handmade candles on Etsy, run. Or walk quickly, if you’re in heels.
Red Flags in a Relationship - arguing couple


8. You’re not sure if they like you.

There’s a normal level of ambiguity around feelings early in a relationship. Neither person wants to come off too strong, and you’re still getting a sense of who the other person is. This can be healthy.

However, you should at least get the vibe that they enjoy your company and want to see you again. If this person seems lukewarm when it comes to making plans, or acts bored when you’re together, they aren’t worth your time.

If it’s not a f*ck yeah for them, it’s a no for you, because you deserve a hell freaking yes.
Red Flags in a Relationship - guy on phone next to woman


9. You catch them in small lies.

Does their dating app profile say “entrepreneur,” but they actually work in finance for an established corporation? Or did they tell you they studied abroad in Jakarta but actually just went there on a two-week vacay?

We all bend the truth a little early on to make people like us. We may exaggerate how often we ski or pretend to love rock music. But if you get the vibe that this person is straight up lying about things, that’s a red flag.

Deceiving you about their height or using old pictures on their dating profile may seem like no big deal, but it signals much bigger deceptions down the road. And lies around fidelity and finances are a heck of a lot scarier than being off by a couple inches (in one department, at least).
Red Flags in a Relationship - couple arguing


10. They don’t have friends.

Having no friends isn’t an automatic red flag, especially if life’s circumstances put them in their current social situation. Maybe they moved or simply grew apart from their friends due to insurmountable differences.

But if they have no friends because they don’t want them or don’t see the point in friendship, you’ll be in for a pretty isolating relationship.
Red Flags in a Relationship - lonely couple


11. They talk poorly about others in their life.

When you ask about their loved ones, they immediately start sh*t-talking them.

It’s perfectly normal to not get along with certain people. There are a million reasons why someone may have a not-so-good relationship with a family member. But dumping the family drama saga on you early in dating in a blasé manner? That’s a red flag.
Red Flags in a Relationship - gossiping


12. They make the relationship just about hooking up (when you want something more).

If after a few hangouts, they’ve transitioned from planning dates to drunk texting you at 2 a.m. to meet up, chances are they’re not partner material.

There’s nothing wrong with having casual relationships or friends with benefits, but if that’s not what you want, then it’s time to end the relationship. Especially if you’ve told them what you’re looking for, and they simply don’t care.
Red Flags in a Relationship - couple kissing


13. They don’t respect your boundaries.

Anyone who is incapable of respecting your boundaries is not someone you want in your life.

One common boundary that’s pushed early on in dating is getting to physical intimacy. If you’ve told them you don’t want to be intimate yet, and they still push you, that flag is so red it’s blinding. That’s just gross behavior.
Red Flags in a Relationship - woman looking upset


How do I accept red flags and end the relationship?

Now that we’re all on the same page about what red flags look like, how do you take action? One thing to keep in mind, especially if your brain’s trying really hard to justify these red flags in a relationship: people are on their best behavior early on.

If this is how the person is acting on the fourth date, things will not magically get better once you become official or say “I love you,” or get married. In fact, once your guard is down, they’ll probably get worse.

Recognizing red flags and making relationship decisions accordingly is an act of self-love. Because you deserve the creme de la creme, bestie.

By Jess Lohr

Jess is the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast, blog and social media brand for twenty-somethings making the transition from life in college to adulthood. She writes about dating, friendship, money, and career. She also specializes in consumer insights, and is passionate about helping brands infuse the voice of their customers into their marketing, product, and CX strategies.

In her free time, you can find Jess spinning at The Handle Bar, obsessively consuming personal finance content, and playing with her adorable (but chaotic) puppy, Luca. You can follow her on Instagram @jesslohr or on LinkedIn.

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