What Are The Red Flags To Look Out For

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Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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We are always told to look out for people exhibiting red flags in a relationship but what is a red flag? A red flag is known to be a warning sign in a person or situation which indicates that a person may consist of traits like being obsessive, manipulating, controlling, narcissistic, etc. They exhibit toxic behaviours which are considered unhealthy behaviour patterns that can have serious repercussions.

Why is it important to look out for red flags?

The term red flag is used in a relationship when the person shows signs of danger that are illustrated through their behaviour that can be seen physically, for example hitting, throwing things away in anger, breaking things when angry, etc. Most people miss certain warning signs which ultimately lead to issues and conflicts later in the relationship. 

It is important to detect red flags at an early stage of the relationship, as it will give us time to reflect and choose whether to continue the relationship before taking the next step. Love and lust can distort our attention and cloud our judgement for identifying them. Unhealthy behaviour patterns can be seen in our partners through their daily activities and interactions. Some common red flags may include abusive behaviour, aggression, and losing temper. However, some red flags such as manipulation, narcissism, gaslighting and controlling can easily go unnoticed. 

Here are some important red flags to look out for in a person:

Isolating yourself 

While it may seem flattering that they only want to spend time with you but if they are cutting off their surroundings just to be with you, then they will also expect you to cut off ties with your friends and family just to devote all your time to them. You ask about meeting their friends and they say no because they don’t have any friends, with this they will expect the same thing from you, making you isolated with minimal to no social interaction. For example, they will not have any friends and good relations with their family, just to maintain one and only relationship and that is with you.

Lack of empathy/Generosity 

lack of empathy may cause the person to focus on their own issues and completely ignore what the other person is going through. They take actions based on what feels right from their point of view and do not consider or value anyone else’s opinions. For example, being rude to the restaurant staff and refusing to leave tips for the service in the restaurant and often saying that “they are getting enough money from the restaurant.”


Some level of jealousy is normal and healthy in relationships which indicates that your partner cares about you. But that jealousy can increase in intensity and become unhealthy when it starts to show obsessive characteristics of a person like stalking, constantly checking on you, your movements, etc. They get so angry when you call them out, and label it as “caring” even when it comes to invading your privacy. They make you feel like you are “not good enough” and try to take control of your life by exhibiting their controlling behaviour. For example, they pick up your phone anytime and start scrolling, when you call them out they will say they are being protective towards you. 


They are not willing to make even minor sacrifices for you. They think it as a hindrance to their way of life and do not consider it necessary for you. They might further expect you to make compromises for them without complaining. This can exhaust you and give you the feeling of a one-sided relationship. 


They tend to run away from their responsibilities and never accept the blame for it. It is hard for them to be able to participate in difficult discussions. They are inclined towards emotional dependency and expect the other person to make decisions for them or speak on their behalf. They lack emotional skills for coping with problems and will have trouble making discussions that require difficult emotions. For example, when there is a serious argument they lash out and walk away from the situation without hearing you out. However, even healthy relationships go through some rough patches but they make sure that they communicate effectively instead of ditching their responsibilities. 

Lack Of Open communication

There will be no room for open communication, in which the person tends to have a passive-aggressive personality which means, instead of opening up and being honest about what they really feel, they tend to express their feelings negatively and indirectly towards you. They might blame you and start expressing emotions aggressively towards you showing signs of ineffective communication. For example, when the other person said they disliked a certain event, instead of coming up to you and openly talking about it, they will taunt you negatively and make you feel like a culprit for making them aggressive. 

With given red flags there are also yellow flags which means they are meant to be warning signs for the possible challenges which will come at the later stage of the relationship. Even the Yellow Flags are missed quite often and people don’t consider that as a threat but at the later stages of the relationship it creates problems for both. Some yellow flags in a person are:

  • Still in contact with their exes - They consider them as their good friend. This later results in heated arguments, jealousy and insecurities which is not healthy for an individual to bear. 
  • They don’t tell you how they feel - They are mostly avoidant of expressing their feelings openly to you and often make excuses to get out of situations when it comes to expressing their feelings. 
  • Lack of relations - They don’t have any experience in handling relations with others and can cause problems later in the relationship. 

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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