No two people are exactly alike, which in part is what makes relationships interesting. Because of the complexities inherent in relationships sometimes things go astray.  Some behaviours are major red flags that should not be ignored but all too often are.  The following is not meant to be an exhaustive list of red flags, but hopefully, it covers some of the major red flags to look out for.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung

Contempt in Relationships

If your partner is constantly putting you down or making you feel bad about yourself, that’s a clear sign that the relationship is unhealthy.  Contempt is one of the most destructive forces in a relationship. It is characterized by a belittling attitude and a lack of respect. Contemptuous partners often make cutting remarks, roll their eyes, or speak in a condescending tone. This behaviour can quickly erode the self-esteem of the other partner and create an atmosphere of hostility. Contempt is often mistaken for anger, but it is quite different. Anger may be temporarily directed at a partner, but it does not involve a complete lack of respect. Contempt, on the other hand, is a form of long-term devaluation. It is one of the most corrosive forces in a relationship and can ultimately lead to its undoing.

Control and Manipulation in Relationships

Manipulation is a common tactic used by people in relationships to try and control their partners. If your partner is always trying to control what you do or who you see, that’s a red flag. Manipulation often starts small, with a seemingly innocuous request. For example, your partner might ask you to stop spending time with a certain friend or to start wearing different clothes. But if these requests start to feel like demands, it’s time to take a step back and reassess the relationship. It’s natural for people to want some degree of control in their relationships, but when one person is constantly trying to manipulate and control the other, it’s unhealthy and unsustainable. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to communicate with your partner and set boundaries. Otherwise, the relationship is likely to continue down an unhealthy path.

Putting Someone on a Pedestal

When in a relationship, it’s normal to want your partner to see the best in you. After all, who doesn’t want to be loved and appreciated? However, there’s a difference between wanting your partner to see the best in you and needing them to put you on a pedestal. When someone does the latter, it means they don’t really see you as you are. Instead, they have some idealized version of you in their head, and anything that shatters that image is met with frustration and disappointment. This is not a healthy way to live. Not only is it incredibly draining to always pretend to be someone you’re not, but it’s also just plain creepy when someone is that obsessed with you. If your partner can’t accept you for who you are, flaws and all, then they’re not worthy of your time and energy. Move on and find someone who will love and appreciate you for exactly who you are.

Not Fighting Fair

Everyone knows that fighting is a normal part of any relationship. Disagreements are bound to happen, and it’s how you handle those disagreements that really matters. That’s why you should be wary of anyone who seems to flip a switch and turn into an unrecognizable monster when you disagree. This behaviour is a sign of disrespect and just plain awful conflict resolution skills. Similarly, if your partner consistently resorts to name-calling and personal attacks during arguments, it’s time to reassess the health of your relationship. After all, nobody wants to be with someone who can’t handle conflict respectfully.  The above is one of the tell-tale signs which determines whether a relationship will be successful or not.  People who disrespect each other in relationships are a good way to ensure that the relationship will eventually break up.

Personal Space and Boundaries in a Relationship

One big red flag is a partner who doesn’t respect your personal space. If your new partner refuses to stop tickling you when you ask them to, or if they continue to touch you in seemingly innocent ways (like hugs, shoulder rubs or even repeatedly poking you in the arm like a sibling) when you’ve asked for personal space, this might be a sign that they don’t respect your right to your own body. This could be an indication that they are more likely to try to push those boundaries to more dangerous limits in the future. It is important to set clear boundaries and communicate assertively about what you’re comfortable with. If your partner still doesn’t respect your boundaries, it might be time for both to enter therapy or perhaps even consider ending the relationship.

Constantly Talking about an Ex

It’s natural to want to vent about a bad breakup—but if your new partner can’t seem to stop talking about their ex, it’s a red flag. A healthy relationship requires being able to move on from the past and focus on the present. If your partner is constantly reliving old arguments and dwelling on past pain, it’s a sign that they haven’t been able to let go. What’s more, if they badmouth their ex incessantly, it’s a good indication that they are the ones with unresolved anger and resentment. It may be tempting to write off this behaviour as harmless venting, but it’s important to remember that your partner’s words have power. Constant negativity can poison your relationship and make it difficult to build a healthy, lasting bond. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to have a frank discussion with your partner and set some boundaries. Otherwise, you may find yourself caught in the middle of an endless cycle of drama.

Withdrawal in Relationships

Withdrawal from conversations, events, or activities that used to bring joy is a serious issue in relationships. It can be a sign that one or both partners are no longer interested in the relationship. Withdrawal can also be a sign of other underlying issues, such as depression. If you notice your partner withdrawing from activities that they used to enjoy, it’s important to have a conversation about what’s going on. Withdrawal is not healthy for either partner in a relationship. If left unaddressed, it can lead to further emotional distance and even the eventual breakup of the relationship. If you’re concerned about your partner’s withdrawal, Talking to a therapist can also help you explore the underlying causes and find ways to improve communication and resolve conflict.

Bullying in Relationships

Bullying in any form is never acceptable, but it can be especially harmful when it occurs within a relationship. Bullying takes many different forms, from making veiled threats to openly belittling or verbally abusing the other person. In some cases, it may even involve physical intimidation or violence. Regardless of how it manifests, bullying creates an environment of fear and insecurity, and it can have lasting damage to both partners in the relationship. If you are in a relationship with someone who bullies you, it’s important to reach out for help. There are many resources available to support you and help you to break free from this abusive cycle.

A red flag doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship should end.  It is often a signal that there is work to do in a relationship.  If both partners in a relationship are willing to change and seek help in doing so, much can be accomplished.   This is not to say, that a person should not have deal-breakers.  I think it is a good exercise in self-awareness to distinguish between red flags which are deal-breakers and those which might fit in the can be fixed with some work category.

When it comes to relationships, it’s important to listen to your gut and trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is.