Relationships aren’t just with romantic partners. They can be with friends, family and with yourself and sometimes they can be hard to navigate. They also don’t always go to plan, even if we don’t think a relationship will end.

It’s important to be able to recognise red flags as you’ll be able to get out of a situation earlier and with less hurt. However, be aware that not all red flags will be the be all and end all of a relationship. It’s about knowing what is best for you and what you are wanting to do to move forward in a relationship, if at all. 

What are some red flags? 

  • Putting you down; e.g. making comments about your appearance, intelligence, things you do or mocking the thing that you enjoy etc. 
  • Making you feel guilty; e.g. making comments about how you aren’t spending enough time with them or doing things that they want you to do even when you have said no. 
  • Pushing your boundaries either physically and emotionally; e.g. touching you without your consent (doesn’t have to be in a sexual way), expecting too much from you and blaming you for wanting to take a step back. 
  • Isolating you from others; e.g. not wanting you to spend time with your family or friends, not allowing you to connect with others through social media, texting etc. 
  • Being controlling, obsessive and possessive; e.g. they are always asking what you are doing, who you are talking to, checking your phone, saying when you can do things, becoming jealous, their love for you is extreme, thinking that they own you etc.
  • They guilt trip you; e.g. “you’re never around when I need you.”, “I can’t believe you’re going out without me again.”
  • They never apologise and they try to gaslight you when they are in the wrong, even to the point where they make out that you’re at fault. E.g. “it didn’t happen like that, you’re overreacting.”
  • Paranoia; e.g. they show they don’t trust you, “I don’t believe that you are not cheating on me.”, they put restrictions on you to try and push their paranoia away, and they blame you for not helping them feel at ease.  

When any one of these things happen just once or twice, it doesn’t always mean that the relationship has become toxic. It’s when one or multiple of these things become persistent and become a regular part of your relationship with them. 

It can feel like it’s better to still be in the relationship when it isn’t healthy or not good for you rather than being alone but it isn’t. However, before going through a break up or parting ways, it may be worthwhile going to therapy together to get to the bottom of why they are acting the way they are. It depends on what you are trying to work through as some red flags are a definite reason to break up straight away. However, others may just need some talking through with a third party. 

If going to therapy doesn’t work, it’s better to be without the people that are bringing you down as they aren’t good for you and can negatively impact your mental health. Sometimes you just need to walk away and know that this doesn’t mean you’ll be alone forever because you will find people who are worthy of your friendship etc. 

Overall, relationships are different at various ages but one thing that is the same is that every relationship needs care and communication. Without these, the relationship can fall apart. Don’t feel afraid of knowing when to leave a relationship where is is, and don’t feel guilty for doing what’s right for you.