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5 Red Flags To Be Aware of in Your Intimate Relationship

Steven Losardo, LMFT

No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who is domineering, manipulative, and cruel. Most of the time, the spouse appears to be alright at first. They may have a few flaws, but their good exceeds their flaws. While you may not be able to see your partner’s true face until after a significant time has gone, there may be subtle red flags early on in the relationship that signal they are not partnership material. You should think about whether you want to commit your entire life to them.

Here are five warning signs to look out for in your interactions.

  1. Look out for criticism

Criticism is the first red flag to pay attention to. Offering a critique or voicing a complaint is not the same as criticizing your spouse. The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an ad hominem attack. Criticism is “an attack on your partner at the core of their character. In effect, you are dismantling their whole being when you criticize (Lisitsa, 2019).” 

  1. Do not overlook a hint of defensiveness

A common reaction to criticism is defensiveness. At some time in our lives, we’ve all been defensive. The best part is that when a relationship is on the rocks, this red signal is almost always present. When we believe we have been wrongfully accused, we look for justifications and play the innocent victim to get our spouse to back off. 

  1. Look out for dominant behavior and excessive jealousy

If your spouse is the jealous type, he or she may act in a domineering manner. It’s one thing to help someone grow, but when your spouse tries to micromanage every element of your life, it undermines your self-esteem and individuality. A jealous partner may also try to suffocate you with constant calls or messages in order to exert control over your actions. (Laderer, A. Rosen, S. 2021).

  1. A tendency to run away from difficult discussions

A partner who lacks the emotional or behavioral skills needed to cope with problems and runs away from them instead can harm your relationship (Laderer, A. Rosen, S. 2021). Some examples are walking away from arguments without hearing you out, or ignoring you for days at a time when things get rough.  People who have trouble tolerating difficult emotions tend to lash out or flee when the going gets tough, Simonian says. Even healthy relationships will go through rough patches, so you want to be sure that your partner will communicate effectively with you instead of running away when things get hard.

  1. Pay attention to secrecy

Every partner should be able to have their personal space. It is OK for your partner to engage in private chats with others. That being said, if they become extremely attached to their phone or never speak in front of you, they may be concealing something. For a lengthy relationship to last, trust is required (Regain, 2021). 

Certain red flags can show up early on in a relationship. When ignored, these flags end up being a relationship’s downfall (Gray, 2014). It is important to be aware of these warning signs if you are prone to falling in love quickly. When reading the signs, you will not spend time with individuals who are not right for you. 


Jordan Gray Consulting. (2015, December 30). 20 red flags to watch out for in relationships. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from 

Laderer, A., & Rosen, S. (2021, November 23). Red Flags in a relationship: 6 signs you shouldn’t ignore. Insider. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from 

Lisitsa, E. (2021, February 19). The Four horsemen: Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, & stonewalling. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from 

ReGain. (2018, July 12). The top 12 early relationship red flags that are a sign you should get out now! ReGain. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from 

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