Relationship Red Flags

Many of us, myself included, have unfortunately had relationships that were lacking in many ways. I've decided to summarize some of the red flags and things I overlooked from my past relationships, partially for my own benefit and partially in case it helps someone else avoid the same mistakes.

Red Flag #1: They have untied loose ends from a prior relationship

Having unresolved issues with someone they dated before you is a sign that this person jumps from relationship to relationship. By doing this, they don't take the time to properly learn and grow from each relationship before going into the next one. I had an ex in this scenario. He ended up deprioritizing me at times to handle the unresolved issues with the other person. This was a sign that he had a lack of respect for me and our growing relationship. This ended up manifesting itself in other areas later in our relationship which will be illustrated in the next red flag as well.

Red Flag #2: They don't want to commit to the type of relationship you want

People's lack of commitment doesn't usually have anything to do with you. If they didn't find you worthy of committing to, why didn't they leave and find someone who is? There is usually some underlying reason within themselves that makes them hesitant to make certain types of commitment.

The same ex from the previous red flag ended up suggesting that we "take a break" at one point down the line. I sadly agreed, allowing myself to be downgraded from a relationship to a situationship. A big part of why I agreed to this was that when I asked him if he would be seeing other people during this time, he said no. However, he was involved with other people during this time. I tried to rationalize it by saying that we weren't together and that it would be better once we rekindled the relationship. We did get back together and he ended up cheating on me, so it definitely was not better. Additionally, it didn't actually matter whether we were or weren't together. He told me that he wasn't going to see other people, so that should have been enough.

Another person I dated hadn't shown any signs of wanting to move things forward and make a commitment to each other. It was eventually brought up when I expressed interest in attending a speed dating event via Facebook. He was initially bothered by this, so I told him that we hadn't yet made any commitments to each other. I also said that if he wanted to have that conversation then we could have it, but until then I would consider myself single. He opted not to have the convo, and I ended things soon afterwards which was 100% the right thing to do. He ended up reaching out later and agreed to exclusivity which I thought was enough at the time. You would think I would have known better due to my previous experience… The relationship ended up not really going anywhere, and he would always avoid things that would move the relationship forward like meeting each other's families, discussing the future, etc. I should have just stuck with my initial decision to end things when no progress was being made.

Red Flag #3: They have negative views of you and/or your community 

One of my exes was from a different country and had a lot of negative views about Black Americans. He was ok with dating me because "I'm different", but he had internalized a lot of stereotypes about Black Americans that could apply to some of my friends and family members. I can understand to an extent why someone who is not from here may form opinions based on the information available to them which is largely negative thanks to mainstream media. However, I think that we should always be open to the fact that our perspectives may not be accurate. We should actually listen to people from that community when forming opinions of a given community. It was very draining for me to feel like I had to constantly defend myself and my community to someone who didn't bother to educate themselves on the historical and present-day factors affecting Black Americans.

Red Flag #4: They are judgmental of others

One thing that I have noticed is that when people are judgmental of other people, it's very likely that they will eventually find some way to judge you as well. One of my exes would make comments about other people's life decisions. He seemed to have in his mind that there was essentially one correct way to live life, and anything outside of that was somehow inferior. One specific example was when smoking weed came up in conversation. He made a blanket statement that people who smoke are not living up to their fullest potential. I mentioned that I had friends who smoked, and he doubled down. He knew nothing about my friends. He didn't know what they had accomplished, why they smoked or how frequently, but he was so confident making a statement like that.

Initially, he thought that I aligned with his idea of how people should live. As we got to know each other better, he realized that I didn't quite match up to the person he imagined me to be. His treatment of me got significantly worse as he realized that some of my life choices didn't align with his viewpoint of "correct" choices.

Red Flag #5: They are against opposite gender friends

I think a lot of people don't see the value in having friends of the opposite gender. They only view people of the opposite gender as potential romantic or sexual partners, but don't actually enjoy just spending time or having conversations with the opposite gender as people. This is a potential sign that they have a lack of respect for people of the opposite gender (especially if it's a man saying that he doesn't have any interest being friends with women). It could also be a sign of insecurity. They are possibly concerned about you cheating on them or leaving them for someone else. 

In the case of my ex, it was both. He said at the beginning that he didn't really get the point of opposite gender friends. I should have ended things then and there knowing that I have a close male friend who had already been in my life for years. Unfortunately, I did not. This same ex was also generally an insecure person (about a variety of things), and I learned that his ex before me had left him for someone else (according to him). The combination of these eventually led to my friendship became an issue in our relationship. I ended up cutting off my friend. Thankfully, we were able to reconnect later, but I won't make that same mistake again for a few different reasons that are largely personal, but the generic one that I will provide is that it accomplished nothing. Also, there's no logical reason for someone to be policing who I can and cannot have a phone conversation with. I've recently seen some women on social media saying it's a red flag for a man not to have any opposite gender friends, and I'm inclined to agree with that.

I have some additional thoughts on this topic in my blog post on Insecurities in Dating 

Red Flag #6: They either end the relationship or suggest ending the relationship over minor things

Running away from the relationship or suggesting the relationship should end over minor things is a sign that the person lacks conflict resolution skills, lacks communication skills and/or has an avoidant attachment style. My ex had the mindset that we shouldn't have to discuss certain things. He felt that if we weren't automatically on the same page about every single thing then we were simply not compatible. He wouldn't even attempt to have a conversation about to see if we could find middle ground. I feel like it's super unlikely for someone to fully agree with you in every aspect of importance in a long-term relationship. There's really no way to make a relationship work if the other person is unwilling to even have a conversation and attempt a compromise. This was the main reason why I eventually ended things.

Red Flag #7: They make negative statements about you under the guise of "what other people think"

If someone that supposedly cares about you is making negative remarks about you, that is already a red flag in and of itself. Any "negative" comments should be constructive and beneficial to your growth in some way. If they are not, it's likely that this person is trying to tear you down for some reason which is not ok. I think you have to be especially careful of them framing the comments as if it's someone else's opinion.

For example, my ex made a comment about my friend. I had mentioned at one point that my friend doesn't really do relationships. My ex commented to me that he didn't think that was true and that my friend only told me that because my friend did not believe that I was good enough for a relationship. For context, my ex and my friend had never met (which is a whole separate issue related to red flag #5), they had never had a conversation, and I had only told my ex very limited info about my friend. Additionally, if the reason was due to him not thinking I was good enough, you would think he would have had relationships with other people? Or is nobody good enough? There are additional reasons why the statement made no sense, but I eventually realized that my ex told me that because he was the one who didn't think I was good enough. However, he wouldn't tell me that directly because he always wanted to come across as the "nice guy" which was very manipulative.


These are just some of the things that I have learned from my past that I now keep in mind when meeting and getting to know new people. I had to do a lot of journaling, reflection and therapy to understand why I allowed many of these things to go on as long as they did, but I hope that this list will give someone else some food for thought if they are dealing with similar relationship patterns.


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