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22 Silent Red Flags

What are silent red flags in a relationship?


Silent red flags are the subtle warning signs which can indicate an unhealthy dynamic within a relationship, and because they are not always obvious they often get ignored or brushed under the carpet early on. This is generally done because you don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ or cause confrontation in the early stages of a new relationship. But ignoring these subtle warnings at the beginning can make them even more destructive as time goes by. So how do you spot these subtle warnings or silent red flags?

Silent red flags are subjective, and if you spot them and act upon them there is still the potential to create a healthy lasting relationship. So here are 22 silent red flags for you to consider…


1 Lack of Trust

It can be healthy to have a small dose of jealousy in a relationship but excessive jealousy has no place in a romantic relationship. But trust comes in other guises too. If you find yourself being constantly questioned, particularly regarding your behaviour, this is something to be aware of for the future.


2 Excessive Critique

People who love you should compliment and praise you not criticize you. If you feel that your partner is putting you down at every opportunity, this could be a sign that they have low self-esteem, and they could also have narcissistic traits.


3 Unreliability

In a stable loving relationship you should never questions whether you can rely on your partner. If however they are often late, let you down at the last minute, or constantly give excuses as to why they can’t do things, then this is something to be wary of and to pay attention to in the future.


4 Exclusion

It is quite normal to retain some independence when you are in a relationship, but if you constantly feel excluded or left out by your partner, then this is certainly something to take notice of and not to ignore.


5 Obsessed with past Relationships

We all have a past but its how we talk about that past and how often that could set alarm bells ringing. Excessive talking about an ex could mean they are not over them yet. And calling them ‘crazy’ or worse, could they be calling you that at a later date?


6 Self-proclaimed Terrible Partner

Listen to your partner if they say how terrible they are in relationships. You may laugh it off as a joke but there could be more truth in that statement than you realise at the time.


7 Backhanded Compliments

These are remarks that at first hearing could be seen as a compliment but when looked at more closely are designed to insult and knock your confidence. These can eat away at your self-esteem if not addressed quickly.


8 Lack of Compromise

Relationships are all about compromise. Not always agreeing on things is common and healthy, but disagreements that always end in conflict, especially if they are over things that are important to you, do not bode well for your future.


9 Difficulty Taking Responsibility

Sorry is not always an easy word to say especially when admitting you were in the wrong, but for the sake of any relationship (not just romantic ones) it is essential that if you want to move forward within the relationship, you own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions. If your partner does not have the ability to do this then inevitable it will come back and haunt you.


10 Inconsistent behaviour

Being consistent in any relationship is paramount. We not only need to know that we can rely on our partner for support but also rely on their general behaviour. Having a partner that in inconsistent in their behaviour or changes the goal posts in your relationship can be both emotionally draining and damaging, and not something you will want to deal with in a long term relationship.


11 Guilt Trip

A partner that has a victim complex, will always make it out to be all about them. Is that what you want to sign up for?


12 Lack of Privacy

This is when your partner makes a point of retaining their independence but shows a lack of respect for yours, and therefore crosses the boundaries of transparency. For example, insisting on having access to your phone or calling you when they know you are out to check where you are. These possessive tendencies could ruin the relationship you are building.


13 Attention Seeking Behaviour

Yes we all like to have some attention from time to time, but if your partner is constantly creating a drama, overstepping boundaries or being self-centred, this will impact on your relationship in a negative manner.


14 Overly Secretive

Keeping a relationship private is very important to some people and is to be respected however, if your partner goes to excessive lengths to keep your relationship off social media or continually objects to you for social media posts, then maybe that could be a bad sign for the future too.


15 Refusal to Look Long Term

When you are in the throws of a new relationship it is natural to want to live in the moment, but it is also natural to want to talk about your future. If your partner is unable to do this you may ask if they think you have a future together.


16 Rudeness

No matter who you are, we all deserve to be treated with respect. Take time to notice if your date / partner is rude to serving or shop staff, even other road users. This attitude towards others is reflective of how they could treat you as a partner in the future.


17 Disinterest

It is true that opposites attract, and it is not necessary that you share all the same interests with your partner but if they start to belittle, make fun or show a total lack of interest in your specific interests or what makes you tick, this could be signs of narcissism or narcissistic tendencies.


18 Unhealthy Relationships with Family Members

Unhealthy relationships with other members of their family could be a sign of issues that may affect your relationship in time. Having a partner that respects their parents is usually a green flag but excessive reliance or dependency on parents or offspring may result in there being a dynamic of there being more than the two of you in your relationship and is that what you really want?


19 Inconsistent Communication Patterns

We all know that a complete lack of communication in a relationship is a red flag, inconsistence communication should also be of concern. How you and your partner react to adversity is a clear indicator as to the strength of your relationship. If your partner reacts to criticism by stonewalling (not responding) or by sulking this could mean they have a bad relationship dynamic which in turn could escalate into more toxic traits.


20 Angry Outbursts

Anger is in certain circumstances a justifiable emotion. However this type of outburst should not become common place in your relationship and should they escalate to physical abuse, you should end the relationship as soon as possible. Take note of angry outbursts that may also occur towards other people, these are a negative indicator of your partners emotional reactions.


21 No Difficult Discussions

Difficult discussions are part of life, at home work or at play and they are not always going to be straightforward. If your partner avoids this type of conversation despite you trying to initiate such then this behaviour is not to be ignored.


22 Lack of Quality time

We all have dominant love languages and getting to know and understand yours and your partners is an important part of any relationship. One of the love languages is quality time, but even if this is not your dominant language, spending quality time together is essential if you are to grow and develop the connection you have into a lasting relationship. Be aware if your partner constantly disregards the opportunity to spend quality time together in preference to carrying out their agenda. This could be a sign of the demise of your relationship, so don’t ignore.


So what happens if you ignore these silent red flags?

Its easy to think of these silent red flags as one-offs or quirky behaviour and ignore them for the sake of preserving your relationship, or you may think that things will change when this or that happens, maybe moving in together, getting married or having children. However when this type of behaviour is rationalised like this it often leads to disappointment and frustration and in some cases even resentment. It is always better to listen to your instinct, your gut feeling, if it feels wrong it usually is!

Most but not all of these issues are fixable and ignoring them will only lead to getting yourself into a negative spiral, which is hard to break. Being in a downward spiral will slowly damage the relationship and the deterioration will inevitably lead to heartbreak, even if you are putting every effort into keeping the relationship going.


This article is based upon an article written by Zoe O’Connor for Paired magazine.

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