10 relationship red flags you should never ignore, according to psychology

by Isabella Chase | April 15, 2024, 1:50 pm

There’s a fine line between a quirky habit and a sign of deeper issues in your relationship.

Psychology suggests that there are certain signs we simply can’t afford to ignore when it comes to our romantic relationships.

Recognizing these red flags early on could save you from heartache down the line. It’s not always about being overly suspicious, but more about being aware and understanding.

These 10 relationship red flags, according to psychology, are the ones you should never turn a blind eye to. Here they are.

1) Constant criticism

It’s one thing to help each other grow and improve, but it’s a whole different story when criticism becomes a regular part of your relationship.

Famed psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, identifies constant criticism as one of the ‘Four Horsemen’ – behaviors that signal a relationship in trouble. He says, “It’s okay to complain about what’s wrong, but perpetual criticism is a recipe for relationship failure.”

Criticism can become corrosive over time, eroding the love and respect between partners. If every little thing you do is met with negative comments, it’s a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.

Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect and kindness, not constant fault-finding. Make sure you’re aware of this crucial difference.

2) Feeling drained

Let me tell you a story from my past. I was once in a relationship where our interactions left me feeling constantly exhausted, both emotionally and mentally. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t normal, and it was actually a significant red flag.

Dr. Susan Forward, psychologist and author of ‘Emotional Blackmail’, says, “In a healthy relationship, there should be a balance of give and take.” But in my case, it felt like I was constantly giving, but not receiving much in return.

A relationship should bring joy, comfort, and support. If you constantly feel drained or depleted after spending time with your partner, it’s a sign that something is not right. Remember, it’s crucial to pay attention to how you feel in your relationship.

3) Lack of trust

Trust is the backbone of any relationship. Without it, everything else becomes shaky and uncertain.

I say this from experience. I’ve been in a relationship where my partner didn’t trust me, constantly questioning my actions and motives. It was suffocating and mentally exhausting.

Esteemed psychologist, Dr. Brené Brown, puts it perfectly when she says, “Trust is built in very small moments.” But in my case, those moments were overshadowed by constant doubts and accusations.

If you or your partner can’t establish trust, it’s a glaring red flag. A relationship without trust is like a car without fuel; it just won’t go anywhere. It’s crucial to address this issue head-on and work on building a solid foundation of mutual trust.

4) Disrespectful behavior

Disrespect can be subtle, like dismissive gestures or sarcastic comments, but the impact on a relationship is anything but. I’ve seen friends in relationships where their partner’s disrespectful behavior was brushed off as ‘jokes’. But, in reality, it was a clear red flag.

Dr. Gottman, whom I mentioned earlier, also identifies contempt or disrespect as one of the lethal ‘Four Horsemen’. He says, “Contempt is the single greatest predictor of divorce.”

A relationship is meant to uplift you, not belittle or demean you.

5) Overdependence

There’s a common misconception that in a relationship, you and your partner should be ‘two halves of a whole’. But this is far from healthy. Believe it or not, losing your individuality and becoming overly dependent on your partner is a red flag.

Famed psychologist, Dr. Carl Jung, once said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” It’s about co-existing and complementing each other, not merging into one.

A healthy relationship should allow room for both individuals to grow and maintain their separate identities.

6) Avoidance of conflict

It might seem surprising, but avoiding conflict entirely can actually be a red flag in a relationship.

Dr. John Gottman, renowned for his work on marital stability, states, “Conflict avoidance is an indicator of deeper problems and can lead to the death of a relationship.”

Disagreements are inevitable, but it’s how you handle them that matters. If you or your partner consistently avoid addressing issues or disagreements, it could be an indication of underlying emotional disconnect or fear of confrontation.

Conflict resolution is essential for a relationship’s growth. Avoiding it might seem like the easier route, but it can lead to unresolved issues and resentment in the long run.

7) Lack of communication

Communication, or rather the lack of it, can make or break a relationship. I recall a relationship where my partner and I stopped sharing our thoughts and feelings. It was like living with a stranger.

Communication is not just words. It’s about expressing emotions, sharing thoughts, and understanding each other.

A relationship thrives when there’s open and honest communication. Without it, misunderstandings and disconnect are bound to creep in.

8) Walking on eggshells

There’s nothing more unnerving than constantly feeling like you have to be cautious around your partner, as if treading on thin ice. It breeds anxiety and fear, and trust me, it’s no way to live.

Love should make us feel secure, not scared. But when you’re always anxious about triggering your partner or causing a fight, it’s a clear red flag.

A relationship should provide a safe space where you can be yourself without fear of judgment or anger. If that’s not the case, it might be time to take a closer look at the dynamics of your relationship.

9) Lack of personal growth

Ironically, being ‘too comfortable’ in a relationship can actually be a red flag. It might sound counterintuitive, but hear me out.

Maintaining a healthy relationship means continually evolving as individuals and as a couple.

If you or your partner have stopped growing personally or as a couple, it can lead to stagnation. A relationship should inspire you to grow, to learn, to evolve.

10) Absence of laughter

A relationship without laughter and joy is like a sunless garden. I’ve been in a relationship where we stopped sharing those light-hearted moments. It felt like a never-ending gray winter.

Laughter is not just a sign of joy but also of shared understanding and emotional connection.

If you find that laughter has become rare in your relationship, it’s an alarm bell you shouldn’t ignore. After all, love is meant to add color to your life, not drain it of joy.

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