Watch out for these 4 “red flags” that signal trouble in your new relationship

Big warning signs should give you pause if you’re taking your relationship to the next level.

Rose Bak


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Have you ever looked back at a past relationship and wondered how you missed all the red flags?

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Not all so-called “red flags” are dealbreakers for a new relationship, but being aware of potential issues early on can help you make an informed decision about whether you can address the red flags or you want to put the brakes on before things get serious.

You may be familiar with the term “red flag” from sports, where the presence of a red flag indicates that there’s an issue that necessitates a full stop. But the concept is also useful in the context of personal relationships. Clinical psychologist Dr. Wendy Walsh describes them like this:

“In relationships, red flags are signs that the person probably can’t have a healthy relationship and proceeding down the road together would be emotionally dangerous.”

Here are some common “red flags” to look for in any new relationship, particularly romantic ones.

Photo by Timur Romanov on Unsplash

Controlling Behavior

Controlling behavior can be one of the biggest red flags to watch out for in a new relationship. Unbalanced power dynamics are often a precursor for physical, emotional, and/or financial abuse. This often starts off as relatively minor and rapidly progresses to full-on control. This includes things like:

  • Jealousy and/or unfounded accusations of cheating
  • Wanting to limit your interactions with friends and family
  • Wanting to accompany you to and from work
  • Putting trackers on your phone, like the “find my phone” function
  • Asking for your passwords
  • Insisting on joint bank accounts or monitoring all of your spending
  • Criticizing your appearance
  • They act like they’re…



Rose Bak

Rose Bak is a freelance writer and yoga teacher who lives in Oregon. Find her at or follow @authorrosebak on social media.