Red Flag

Relationship Red Flags

Here are some of the red flags that we see as couples’ therapists which typically mean something might be misaligned or off to an unhealthy road for couples:

  1. Never ever fighting. Tough conversations are part of any relationship, so the courage to speak your truth means that open, honest communication and intimacy can flourish.  When couples tell us they never fight, it might also mean they are never truly open and honest with each other.
  2. Verbal abuse. This looks like name calling, yelling or screaming, lying, shaming, humiliating, manipulating, or downplaying another’s feelings.  Of course, physical abuse or sexual abuse, real, threatened, or perceived, is a major red flag too.
  3. Breaches of trust. This includes big things like breaking the relationship contract (i.e., affairs), but also can mean digital breaches like going through each other’s phones, emails, or social media accounts, and also includes things like not following through on promised commitments.
  4. Addictive behaviors, such as frequent binge drinking or drug-taking, long stretches of video gaming, obsessive porn habits, out of control spending or gambling. These activities are not only unhealthy for the individual, but also tend to create large amounts of disconnection and distance between partners.
  5. “Yeah, but…” stances. When a couples’ go-to communication style is to share/defend (when one partner shares how they feel and the other immediately defends their actions or perspectives), both partners retreat into their own version of the story and fail to connect with each other on the underlying emotions and needs for both people.


Does your relationship have any of these?


This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a few of the main red flags we see as relationship counsellors.  If so, consider examining your relationship with your partner, and take steps to actively work against these habits, either on your own or with a couples’ therapist.

By: Dr. Elizabeth Landau