It’s hard to imagine any red flags in men when things are perfect: you’ve just met a great guy and your few dates are adorable. He’s attentive, full of cute little surprises, and sends you lovely text messages day and night. Maybe you have already tested your compatibility in the bedroom, and it’s all a great green go. You’re almost ready to order that U-Haul. Could it get any better than this?
Maybe, but maybe not. This relationship is new, and you are in the infatuation phase – looking at him and your new honeymoon period through rose-colored glasses. But before you rent that U-Haul, take some time to get to know him. And as you do, try to be objective to see the red flags in men that might show up.
“A relationship red flag is something that is considered a deal breaker or a non-negotiable for a person, that doesn’t necessarily have to do with their individual preferences, but more so with the character, behavior, and emotional maturity and availability in the relationship.”
Dr. Christie Kederian, a relationship expert and licensed family and marriage therapist
If you’re worried about red flags in men, don’t make quick decisions: as you continue spending time with your new relationship, take all the chances for more conversations. Observe him in a variety of environments and situations, enjoy this, and don’t turn a blind eye to any personality flaw that could pop up. What are those flaws? Here’s our list.
Related reading: 14 Red Flags in Women – Here’s Your Checklist
Love bombing in moderation is normal for anyone who has a new love and has them on their mind a lot during the early stages of a relationship. You probably do some of this too:
And does all of this overwhelm you just a bit? It depends on what’s underneath this behavior. On the one hand, love bombing may be genuine to man who just loves to give. Is he this generous with others too? If so, you may be able to relax a bit. On the other hand, love bombing can also be a sign of a narcissist. He will show all of this attention to hook you in, to make you adore and admire him, and even place him on a pedestal – exactly where he wants to be.
Related reading: Future Faking – A Lousy Dating Strategy
As you spend more time with him, the cracks may begin to show. He may resent the attention you are paying to others if you:
That’s a sure red flag if you will see him show signs of disapproval and resentment in these cases. This way, his reactions signalize that his needs are more important than yours; but relationships that have this imbalance are never good.
We’re all human. We make mistakes, accept those as being our fault, and do what we can to correct them. And so, that a red flag is your man is incapable of doing so.
When a man blames anything negative that happens to him as someone else’s fault, be very cautious. This is at least a yellow flag, and you should keep pursuing conversations that will let you know how pervasive this behavior is.
Can you imagine being in a serious relationship, partnership, or even marriage in which everything that goes wrong is your fault? If you find that this is a consistent pattern in your man, you may want to cut ties now before things get too serious and the pain of a breakup is more severe.
Related reading: 21 Things Your Partner Should Never Say to You (and Vice Versa)
In a healthy and open relationship, there is give and take on discussions about anything. You listen to what he has to say, and he does the same. He values your thoughts and feelings even though he may disagree.
If you find that he doesn’t regard your thoughts as important or that he is condescending to you, leading to believe that your thoughts are not valid or worthy, be sure – he is engaging in gaslighting. Again, imagine living long-term with this. Do you really think that’s worth it?
It’s easy to observe this type of bad behavior when you are out together – in an environment where others may be providing service to you – in a restaurant, for example:
If there’s a “yes,” that’s a major red flag. It can be a precursor to abusive behavior directed toward you – the inability to see you as an equal partner, but, rather, someone to serve his needs. With future, this will transform into the strong belief that your feelings just aren’t important.
This bad behavior tells you he lacks emotional intelligence – and this is a key to healthy relationships. Not just with you, but with all people.
As you two spend time together, it’s inevitable your past relationships are bound to come up:
If he believes that every failed relationship was his partner’s fault, this is a definite red flag. It shows that he is unable to accept his own flaws or any responsibility for his part in interpersonal failures. This probably carries over to other relationships too, including his work and family members. Observe these signs too.
If he doesn’t have any life outside your relationship, this is pretty huge. Men who are emotionally healthy lead well-balanced lives: they have guy and female friends, hobbies and interests. But what if he doesn’t have outside interests and activities at all?
Of course, not everyone is going to go out and party or play basketball with other guys. But it is important they do have some interests aside from work and you:
If your man doesn’t engage with other people, he risks lacking both emotional intelligence and social skills. And you risk being expected to complete them, as such men tend to put all of their “eggs in your basket.” Being the only person they need may sound romantic in theory – but in reality, you’ll be miserable.
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
Daniel Coleman, psychologist and author
He may be happy and content, and then some small thing will set him off. He doesn’t necessarily become physical, but it’s time to give him a wide berth until he calms back down. It might be something at work or a disagreement with a family member.
Whatever it is, doesn’t matter. This is a guy who cannot manage his emotions – another sign of a low emotional IQ. What will happen if you form a partnership, live together, and you set him off? Do you really want to live with that?
You may tell yourself that things will change once you settle in, but chances are they won’t. Guys with these issues need therapy to address their inability to manage their emotions.
Here’s the thing about a person who is self-aware. He is able to identify his strengths and weaknesses and understands his flaws. In a relationship, he is willing to work on those flaws (as you should be too) so that you are both happier. If your guy is unable to recognize his faults, it will be tough to have those sometimes-difficult conversations about issues that require compromise. This brings us to the next warning sign.
Every person, in any kind of relationship – personal or professional – will encounter disagreements. If they have a normal level of maturity, they will talk about those issues and reach a compromise. While your relationship is new, it’s unlikely that disagreements will pop up other than perhaps whether to order Chinese or pizza. But as you move forward with this man, you notice that he’s got a very stubborn streak that makes compromise tough.
Related reading: Male Maturity – When Does It Kick In?
Suppose, for example, some friends have asked you as a couple to join them at a favorite Karaoke spot that you have always liked. He says no because he doesn’t like that kind of club. He prefers clubs with a band for dancing, but you don’t like to dance. The compromise is obvious. One night you go with your friends to the karaoke spot and the next you go to his favorite. But if he is unwilling to compromise even as those things that are not so important, how will he be when compromise is needed on major life issues?
Are there things that should not be compromised? Yes, and those are things like boundaries.
“Like with all boundaries, we want to ensure that someone is respecting the ways in which we tell them how to treat us. We want people to be able to hear ‘no’ and ‘stop’ and take us seriously.”
Folashade Adekunle, couples counselor
People in normal healthy relationships still have boundaries with one another. These should be reserved for the “non-negotiables” in your life.
When you start dating, it will be important to let him know of your boundaries and for him to do the same. Here are a few examples of boundaries you might set:
If he is continually pressing you to violate those boundaries or actually violating them, it’s a big red flag and a sign of a bad relationship to come. Some of his behavior may border on mental abuse.
Respecting boundaries is a key to health in a relationship. If he has no boundaries, it means that he probably lacks self-control. His personal growth and development have stalled somewhere along the line. And his life can be pretty chaotic. That chaos can travel over into your relationship too. It won’t be fun.
Related reading: Does Your Man Have Mommy Issues?
There are a variety of reasons why someone becomes a control freak, especially in relationships, but you need to recognize the behaviors. So many women don’t recognize them early on because they are seen as a nice guy who genuinely cares deeply. In reality, this is manipulative behavior to keep the upper hand.
Here are some common red flags to watch for as you are dating a man:
Women who enter into partnerships or marriages with these guys will not have a well-rounded, healthy life. Their control will control all that you do. This is one of those abusive relationships that will not go away. And once you are “in,” the emotional abuse can turn into physical abuse, if the guy has aggressive tendencies.
This is a person who is truly selfish if when you ace a test or a course, get a promotion at work, or receive some award for community service, he is not excited with or for you. Instead, he sees this as you are moving forward while he may not be. He may even try to make you feel guilty that you are achieving so much and not being more concerned about his well-being.
This is a guy who cannot get “outside of himself” and his needs. You press forward in self-improvement, and he becomes resentful. You’ll never see this on a first date, or even after several dates. The point is this: you need time to get to know this man better by dating him for a good long while.
Related reading: Dealing With Double Standards in Relationships
Dating is a way to get to know someone you are considering for a real relationship. And that’s exactly why you need to be dating someone regularly until you feel comfortable that they are a good prospect for the relationship you want.
Suppose you’ve found someone on a dating app. You’ve had lots of conversations, and have similar interests, goals, and values. Now you are ready to start dating in person. But then, you notice he begins to show signs of not being reliable. He cancels out at the last minute or shows up really late with excuses.
If this happens multiple times, and you are beginning to see a pattern. And it’s time to ask yourself these questions:
Whatever the reason, his behavior shows a lack of respect and a lack of commitment to your relationship. Your gut feeling should tell you that all is not what you really want. Call him out on this and let the chips fall where they may. It’s early in the relationship, and if it ends now, you’re better off.
“It’s not a great foundation for a relationship when you don’t have that emotional security. Sometimes it takes time for you to know how you’re feeling, or for them to know how they’re feeling. And it would be good for them to be able to talk about that. But if they’re making you second guess, then it’s going to undermine the future of the relationship.”
Dr. Rebekah Montgomery, licensed clinical psychologist
Here’s a red flag that will probably show up early on. In the beginning, you are both probably pretty much attached at the hip. The relationship is new, you are both infatuated, and you spend all of your available time together. Over time, though, as you begin to settle in past the honeymoon stage, you naturally begin to return to your other independent activities. This is a healthy way for a relationship to develop.
But what if he doesn’t let this happen? What if he seems overly dependent on you and is jealous of any time that you are out on your own without him?
There may be a lot of underlying issues at play here, even from childhood. But the fact is that he has not overcome them and is now clinging to you to get his own needs met. Ultimately, if you give in to this, a toxic relationship develops that is totally unbalanced. You are sacrificing your needs for his. And it is a controlling behavior on his part, even to the point of making you feel guilty if you don’t comply. You’ll become resentful and may hide your own emotions to keep the peace.
Related reading: When You Love Someone – Do You Really Know?
This is a red flag you cannot ignore. Stand your ground; insist on your independent time from the very beginning. If he cannot deal with this, better you have found out early on. It will never be a healthy relationship unless he deals with the underlying causes – that will require professional help.
Most of all, what you want is a healthy relationship with a partner who is mature, self-aware, and does not exhibit the red flags that you have read about above. So, when you see these flags, how do you deal?Let’s look at some specific strategies and tips to you will want to consider.
When you see a red flag, don’t go into denial, “Oh, he’ll change with time.” It’s not any way to address red flags. Muster up the courage to state your concerns, explain how they are not acceptable, and wait for his responses instead.
If, for example, his controlling behavior is encroaching on your need for independence and making your own decisions, what does he say in response? Does he tell you he didn’t realize he was doing this and that he will definitely make some changes? Then see if he is a man of his word. If things don’t change, you have a red flag that will probably not be resolved. If his behavior is too much for you, get out.
The point in all of this is communication. It’s critical to a healthy relationship. If he is willing to discuss your concerns and truly listens, there may be hope. the other point is that catching red flags early can save you lots of pain down the road.
There are levels of red flags. And there are some that may not bother you so much, and others that look like serious issues. But if behavior seriously compromises who you are, your values, your sense of self, or jeopardizes your safety in any way, it’s a huge red flag and must be addressed. Other red flags you might consider more minor, and you may be willing to wait and see if they can be worked on.
This is always an option and a good one. Women who see red flags in men they are dating need time away to think things through, to reconnect with friends and family, and even get some counseling if they think it is warranted.
Separation will also let you observe how your guy deals with such an independent move on your part. If, for example, he tried to manipulate you into feeling guilt or shame by leaving him, you have another red flag. At this point, you must be strong and not bend.
If your relationship is meant to be, it will be there in the future when you are ready to assert your needs and what changes must be made. If he is really in this only for his own needs, he will probably move on to someone else.
Related reading: What Are the 5 Signs the No Contact Is Working?
Ignoring red flags and hoping they will go away is a “fool’s errand.” They do not go away on their own.
And if you are a “giver” rather than a “taker,” it’s so easy to fall into the trap of codependency. That can truly become a toxic relationship in which you cease to be the mentally healthy and independent person you should be.
New relationships are exciting, but when you see the clear warning signs that are discussed here, please take action. Do not let that excitement blind you to red flags in men that may show up as you continue dating. This list should give you all that you need to look for as the newness wears off and you settle into a longer-term dating relationship.
And trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right and looks like one of these common red flags, you owe it to your own well-being to analyze what is going on, communicate your concerns to this new partner, and walk away if you don’t sense that improvement and change will really happen.