The Top 12 Early Relationship Red Flags That Are A Sign You Should Get Out Now!

Updated November 22, 2019

Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT


No one goes into a relationship wanting a partner who is mean, manipulative, and controlling. In most cases, the partner seems fine at first. They may be rough around the edges, but their good outweighs the bad. Then, their true selves begin to show. They become abusive, or just plain insufferable. You're soon in a relationship with them for years, and ending things is just hard. Maybe you have a kid or rely on them for your income.

While you can't see the true face of your partner until a long time, there are subtle red flags early in the relationship that may indicate that they are not relationship material, and you should reconsider whether or not you want to devote your life to them. Here are some red flags to look out for.

They Are Still Obsessed With Their Ex

If you're dating someone who just got out of a long-term relationship, you may be the rebound. Rebound relationships rarely work out, and one of the reasons is because your partner is so fixated on their ex still.

It's all right for your partner to bring them up or still feel a little glum about their previous relationship, but there is a limit. If they:

  • Still, have pictures of their ex on their phone
  • Look at their social media profiles frequently
  • Always make the ex the topic of the conversations
  • Claim to be friends with the ex and talk to them regularly

Or if you feel like you're just a substitute, then this may be a reason to end the relationship. You are not their ex, and if the partner doesn't move on from their ex, then they may rush things, or leave you before you aren't prepared.

They Always Badmouth Their Previous Relationships

Speaking of exes, one red flag is if they're always talking about how horrible their exes are. Don't get us wrong. Some people fall into bad relationships, and it's okay to have resentment still. However, if every single one of their exes is "crazy," then this may be an eyebrow raiser. It's more likely that they have blame for their relationships failing too, but they instead turn themselves into a victim. And if you decide to end the relationship, they will probably badmouth you as well.

They Always Criticize You


It's good, to be honest about how you feel, but there is such a thing is being overly critical while not praising. If your partner is always scrutinizing how you look, speak behave, and doesn't ever compliment you, this may be a bad sign. Odds are, they will never be satisfied with you, and perhaps you should end things before they get too difficult.

You Have To Justify Their Bad Behavior

Your relationship shouldn't consist of writing apologetics for your partner. For example, if your partner is rude to your friends, you shouldn't have to tell them, "Oh, they're rude if they don't know you, but they're nice once you get to know them."

Sometimes, there is a reason for the undesired behavior, but often you are trying to take something that is inexcusable and using all the mental gymnastics you can to give it an excuse. If you find yourself doing this, it may be a red flag.

Your Family And Friends Don't Like Them

One cliché in many forms of media is the family member, usually the mother-in-law, who irrationally despises their child's partner. This cliché has made some people handwave any criticisms our family members may have your partner, but sometimes, they may be on to something. If your parents, as well as your friends, have always been right about things, then maybe they have a point if they don't like your partner.

This isn't to say that just because your mother or your friend doesn't like your partner, you should break up with them. Your parent may be overly critical of your partner. Your friends may be upset that you aren't spending as much time with them. However, you should listen to their words and look at them objectively.

They Refuse To Take Responsibility


No one has their life fully together, especially if the two of you are young. If your partner is in a bad situation, such as not having a job, it doesn't mean they are not worthy of having a relationship with you. However, if they are always making every excuse under the sun as to why they haven't had a job yet, or why they won't change another problem they have, then they may not be worth dating. You're in a relationship, not babysitting.

They Have A Hard Time Apologizing

One of the cornerstones of a good relationship is apologizing. Couples are going to get into fights, or be wrong about things, and apologizing is a great way to hold accountability and help repair the problem the two of your face.

However, if your partner won't admit they were wrong, or apologize for something they blatantly did, then this may be a sign of a bad relationship. Some people have time admitting fault, and this can make the future of your relationship more difficult. How can the two of you grow if one refuses to admit their flaws?

They Have Something To Hide

Look, every partner should have a right to privacy. It's okay for your partner to have private conversations with other people. They have friends of their own, and you shouldn't have to read their messages. With that said, if they become overly possessive of their phone or another similar device, then they may be hiding something. Trust needs to happen for a long relationship to last.

They Are Mean To Other People

Everyone has their off days, but if your partner is always mean to other people, then don't think you're the obsession. Watch how your partner treats people in your daily lives. How do they treat the server when the food is running late? How do they treat someone who bumps into them? Note their behavior, as this could be a sign of how they will treat you once the honeymoon period is over.

They Cross Boundaries

During an early relationship, the rules may not be fully established, and sometimes, boundaries may be crossed. However, if you're always setting up clear boundaries, and yet your partner tries to cross them, or at least push them, then it's a sign of a bad relationship. While your rules and boundaries may change over time, the change shouldn't come because your partner doesn't respect them.

They're Rushing Things


A relationship shouldn't feel like a race. This happens especially during a rebound but can happen in any situation as well. The stages of a relationship don't have a set time for everyone. Some people will take years before they're even moved together, and others may be engaged in less than a year. However, if your partner is pushing you to go to the next stage despite you not being ready, then it may be a red flag to avoid.

They're Controlling Who You See

This should be an obvious one, but many people obey their partner if they tell them to stop seeing their friends. A relationship should be built on trust, and you are free to talk to whoever you like. If it's not a reasonable concern, such as you always talking to your ex, then what do they have to fear?

What To Do If You Experience These Red Flags

We are all flawed people, and your partner is going to have some flaws or traits you don't like. If you experience a few red flags, it may not necessarily be a reason for you to cut ties just yet. They may not be aware of their behavior.

Talking to your partner about their problems is the best initial approach. For example, if your partner seems overly jealous, confront them about their behavior. Point out that they have nothing to worry about, and you don't like how they're behaving. Do it in a way that isn't accusatory, and explains how they feel.

If they're willing to make a change, they will listen and try improving their behavior. If they get aggressive, then maybe it's time to end the relationship and try to find someone who does want to grow.

Seek Counseling


If you are experiencing negativity in your relationship, but think your relationship is worth saving, you may need the help of a middle person to have the best resolution possible. Talking to a relationship counselor can help the two of you address the flaws both of you have and try to work for a better relationship.

However, if the two of you can't work it out, it's better if you two part ways. Few people want to be single, but it's preferable to being in a relationship neither of you wants.

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