15 Relationship Red Flags To Watch Out For

Once upon a time, relationship red flags reflected the expectations of a heteronormative, monogamous society. It was typically considered a "red flag" if marriage wasn’t on your radar or you weren’t interested in having kids. But now, as people have realized that love can take many different forms, experts say that what may be a red flag for one person—say, a lack of desire to talk about politics—may be a breath of fresh air for someone else.

Still, there are "absolute" red flags, like abusive and controlling behavior, that shouldn’t be ignored, says Callisto Adams, PhD, founder of HeTexted.com, and a dating and relationship expert and coach. She says being cautious (not paranoid), and trusting your gut feeling and instincts is key to spotting a red flag. "It saves you time, tears, and experiences that won’t feel good when you look back at them," she adds.

Ahead, discover the signs experts say most commonly indicate your 'ship is heading for some rough waters, exactly how to address red flags as they emerge, and how to know when it's time to cut and run so you can save yourself some heartache.

What constitutes a red flag in a relationship varies from person to person, but a blanket understanding of what they are can be helpful if or when they crop up in your love life. "Red flags represent the early warnings of unhealthy traits that could potentially be damaging to the person or people involved in the relationship," says Adams. "They’re tiny signals that make that inner voice say, 'There’s definitely something off.'"

There are also yellow flags, which are "more of a warning sign that an issue may develop from a difference, difficulty, or area of struggle," says Adams. A yellow flag might be that someone you're dating isn't available to spend enough time with you, says Rebekah Montgomery, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Washington D.C. who specializes in relationships. This could be a more circumstantial situation (e.g. they're burning the midnight oil to nab a job promotion) or turn into a longer-term issue that signals they can't make you or the relationship a priority. "Identifying yellow flags is important... [so] you don't feel blindsided if things don't work out," she explains. "But you also don't have to feel as though every area of difficulty means you should end it with someone."