I’d love to tell you that the following red flags come solely from my experience as a former therapist, but the truth is that I’ve encountered all of them in the wild. While some red flags hint at the potential for a relationship to become abusive, many simply exist to let us know that we’re not compatible with someone. Red flags are stop signs urging us to reconsider, but many of us don’t even pause before breezing right through them. It’s only later that we look back with regret that we didn’t heed the warning signs before the inevitable collision.
25 Red Flags in a Man
Red flags do not solely apply to men, but it will be our focus today. Even if red is your favorite color, the following red flags are not indicators that you should partner up with this person for life. They are warnings. Left unaddressed, you could be headed for relationship disaster.
1. All His Exes Were Crazy
Were all his exes crazy? Really? What’s the likelihood of that?
Here’s what we know about anyone with a history of crazy exes. First of all, you have to ask yourself why they keep choosing the same type of partners. Are they not learning from their experiences? Do they not see their own culpability in the partners they choose? This could be a warning sign that this is not a person who is accountable for their own behavior.
Secondly, if everyone he’s chosen is a crazy person, what does that say about you? More importantly, what does it say about how he will look at your relationship, should it end? You might want to take a close look at how you fit into the pattern. It’s possible that you have some of these so-called crazy traits, or it’s possible that none of his exes were actually crazy, and he’s yet to take responsibility for how he treated people in the past.
I used to believe this narrative. I used to live it, too. When I broke my bad relationship cycle, I also stopped believing other people when they claimed every ex was a nutjob. Instead, I recognized it for the red flag that it is — one that indicates they have more work and healing left to do to be ready for the next relationship.
2. He Love Bombs You
He’s a dream come true. He’s everything you ever wanted. He’s treated you better than anyone else ever has. He’s … love bombing you.
If he seems too good to be true, guess what? Love bombing exists because this man is trying to rush you into a relationship. His act of sweeping you off your feet isn’t as generous as it seems. In fact, it’s actually very selfish. He’s not giving you time to see his true self, and he’s rushing you into something before you’re ready.
He might be getting high off this relationship fantasy, but as good as it feels at the start, there’s a progression in love bombing that won’t feel good later. He’s setting unrealistic expectations for himself, for you, and for the relationship. That’s why love bombing is a red flag in a man. If he’s trying that hard in the beginning, you are headed for a fall — and not the one you think. Soon, he’ll stop the full-court press and begin to notice and criticize your every imperfection. It’s the natural next stage of love bombing, but by that time, you’ve likely already fallen for him.
3. He Misrepresents Himself
A man who misrepresents himself doesn’t value honesty — or trust that you’ll love him if you see his flaws. In short, he lacks the maturity to be a partner in a relationship. If he figures out what red flags you’re looking for and lies to say he doesn’t have them, that’s a form of manipulation.
This, unfortunately, is common in the world of online dating. The smoker says he’s a non-smoker at first. The man who is financially unstable tries to convince you he’s got it made. The serial cheater tries to sell you on the idea that he’s totally up for monogamy. Any lie, no matter how well meant, is a warning sign that honesty is just not a priority for this person. Beware.
4. He Makes Self-Deprecating Jokes
Self-deprecating jokes can sometimes lighten the mood. It’s a positive quality when someone can laugh at themselves, but if they keep making themselves the butt of jokes, be warned that this is actually red flag material you’re seeing. It’s a warning sign of low self-worth that he makes fun of himself all the time. He’s either trying to get you to disagree and stroke his ego, or he’s insecure enough about something that he’s trying to make the joke before you can.
Either way, low self-esteem is a red flag in relationships. It’s not your job to provide a partner with self-worth and be the source of all their happiness. That’s something they need to manage themselves. Is this something they’re aware of and working on? Then, you might be able to continue with this relationship. However, if this is a trait that they have no desire to address, you might want to consider what it is you’re getting into by partnering with them.
5. He’s Jealous and/or Controlling
One of the most significant and alarming red flags in men is jealous or controlling behavior. While these two traits often accompany one another, they can also show up alone. Jealousy might make you feel desired, but a healthy person won’t make you feel responsible for his emotions. Jealousy and jealous, suspicious behavior aren’t healthy.
Controlling behavior often follows jealousy around. Does he insist that you always answer his calls and texts without delay no matter what? Does he expect you to drop everything on a whim? Does he dictate who you can be friends with and where you can go? This isn’t just a red flag warning; this is abusive behavior. Adults shouldn’t be telling other adults what to do in a relationship.
6. He Has a History of Infidelity
The serial cheater is a walking, talking red flag. Unless he’s done some deep inner work on his issues with a competent therapist, expect infidelity to factor into your relationship. For instance, if this person began his flirtation with you while in a previous relationship, you already know that he committed emotional infidelity. This isn’t someone who has been a faithful partner. Even if he spins you a sob story about his relationship, he still didn’t end it before reaching out to you.
A history of infidelity should raise red flags. Are they honest about that history? Do they take accountability for it? What action steps have they taken to correct this? Telling you it will never happen again isn’t actually an action step either. If he’s changed nothing and learned nothing, you might want to consider either an open relationship or exiting this relationship.
7. He Gaslights You
A major red flag in any relationship is gaslighting. The man who tells you that you’re overreacting or misreading a situation isn’t just invalidating your feelings; he just might be gaslighting you. If he makes you doubt how you feel and dismisses your experience, you might want to take note.
Gaslighting is a way of avoiding accountability by deflecting the problem back onto you. It’s often successful because gaslighters hit you where it hurts — in areas where you’re already insecure. When this happened to me, my past relationship history was invoked. If only I had been treated right in the past, I wouldn’t overreact this way. It was only later that I could see that my reactions were appropriate, and his actions were a way of making me the problem.
8. He’s Inconsistent
Someone who keeps you off-balance isn’t a healthy partner. Inconsistency is a red flag in a man. To be fair, it’s a red flag in anyone. How long does it take to return a text? Or a call? If someone makes a plan with you, how hard is it to show up?
There are a lot of real-life reasons why someone might be inconsistent. If there’s an actual life crisis happening, that can be taken into consideration. However, if he’s just inconsistent with you and has plenty of excuses but not a single good reason, then he’s just not that into you. It’s a red flag, and a person who really wanted to be with you would show up for you consistently and not leave you wondering if they care.
9. His Misogyny is Showing
This particular red flag is specific to men, although women can certainly have internalized misogyny. Misogyny is an ingrained hostility toward women. Pay attention to how he talks about women who aren’t you. Does he slut shame friends, criticize how some women dress, believe men he doesn’t know over women, and generally act like some women are worthy of respect and some aren’t? Careful, his misogyny is showing.
You don’t have to be a self-proclaimed feminist to see this as the glaring red flag that it is —although why you wouldn’t be on your own side if you’re a woman or on the side of equal rights if you’re not remains a mystery to me. A man who only respects women under particular circumstances doesn’t actually respect women. You might want to point that out the next time that he makes a comment about how a woman presents herself.
In short, this man is not a partner. He wants to be your boss. Inside the bedroom is one thing. Outside of it is a big red flag you should run screaming from if you don’t want to be in a relationship where you are always a second-class citizen.
10. He Has Substance Abuse Issues
You can love someone with substance abuse issues, but if the abuse is an active part of their lives, know that you will never come first. Or even second. Addiction rewires the brain, and everything else becomes secondary. You might be able to be romantically involved with a person who has been in recovery for a while without issues. Still, someone who has a problem, can’t admit it, or admits it but won’t address it is not someone who needs to be in a relationship. It’s a red flag that you ignore at your peril.
11. He Puts You Down
It shouldn’t have to be said, but any man who puts you down and makes you feel about yourself is waving a gigantic red flag. Someone who loves you will never want you to feel bad about yourself. They’ll lift you up even on your bad days.
If he’s constantly criticizing you, he’s not for you. Even if he does it in a pleasant tone of voice, it’s not okay. It’s never okay for another person to commit character assassination in one breath and tell you they care about you in another.
12. He Pressures You
It’s a red flag if a man pressures you. If he pressures you into a relationship. If he pressures you to do something you’re not comfortable doing. If he pressures you to forego condoms during intimate encounters. Any pressure exerted should be looked at as a red flag. This isn’t a person who understands consent of any kind. He’s also not respecting your boundaries. Don’t walk; run away from this individual.
13. He Has Anger Issues
Anger is not the problem. Let’s be clear on that. The problem is when someone has not learned to regulate their emotions. One major red flag in a man is when he has significant anger issues.
If he punches holes in walls, this is a real problem. If he yells at you when things get heated, this is abusive. If he loses control of his temper, this is his problem, and he shouldn’t be making it yours. Nor should you be expected to put up with it. Anger issues can lead to abuse — physical or emotional. It’s a red flag that can put you in actual danger. If he’s not willing to address this issue, you may have to ask yourself if this is something you’re willing to accept in a romantic partner.
14. He Doesn’t Support Your Goals
Relationships are meant to be a two-way street of mutual support, affection, and admiration. You should be each other’s most enthusiastic cheerleader through life. If he expects you to support his goals but doesn’t support yours, you’ve stumbled upon a pretty big red flag. Your partner should support your dreams, full stop. They should believe in you.
This doesn’t mean they should financially support you while you explore your dreams of being a tightrope walker. It doesn’t mean they should move to a different country so you can explore a career that you have no experience doing. It should mean that they take your dreams seriously and support your efforts. It should be a factor in the life you share, not an afterthought.
15. He Expects More Than He Gives
Be honest: does he expect more than he gives in the relationship? This is a red flag you might not notice at first, but it’s one that can become a major issue in any relationship. Does he expect you to put in all your time, effort, and emotional labor into the relationship while he just shows up for it? Does he expect you to be the one to do all the compromising? If you’re held to a higher relationship standard than he is, you might want to ask yourself why that is — and why you’re ignoring this red flag.
16. He’s Rude to People You Love
If the person you are involved with is rude to the people you love, please note that this is a red flag of consequence. Especially when the relationship is new, this man should be trying to ingratiate himself with your friends and family. He should be making an effort to impress them. If he’s rude to their faces or behind their backs, you might want to ask why he thinks it’s okay to criticize your support system.
It could be a warning sign that he wants you all to himself and is trying to isolate you from the other people who care about you. That hints of abuse. But more than that, you have to wonder why he thinks it’s okay to bash the people in your life. When it comes to the people who have always had your back and this guy, the healthy choice isn’t the walking red flag who badmouths your people.
17. He Avoids Conflict
A man who avoids conflict may seem like a fantasy, but it’s really a nightmare. You’re in the red flag range here. Conflict is natural in relationships. It’s even healthy. If you never disagree, then you aren’t spending enough time together or talking freely enough. Disagreement isn’t the problem. It’s all about how you handle it.
A man who runs from conflict is considered a red flag because he’s more likely to ghost you than to confront what’s happening. This is a person happy to sweep everything under the carpet until it becomes unbearable. It’s unhealthy, and it will undermine any future happiness. You need a partner who is willing to face conflict with you to come up with solutions and not one who pretends conflict doesn’t exist or actively avoids it.
18. He’s Cagey about the Future
You probably have realized at some point in the past that a man who is cagey about the future might be fluttering a red flag in your direction. Maybe he’s a commitment-phobe. Maybe he’s just not sure of your relationship yet. Maybe he has a wife and kids you don’t know about in another state. I can’t really say. What I can say is that it’s never a good sign when you aren’t included in his future plans. If he avoids talk of the future, it could be because he doesn’t see you in it.
19. He’s Not Financially Responsible
I don’t believe partners should be sought for their financial worth, but I do fully support the idea that financial irresponsibility is a red flag that will cost you. Literally. If you join your lives, their bills and problems paying them could become yours — especially if you share a household. Even if you don’t, their inability to be financially responsible could impact their lifestyle, which can impact yours.
Everyone goes through financial setbacks, but it’s important to look at how they’re handled. Maybe he moved back home because of a job loss and is saving money to recover. Maybe a health issue caused him a financial setback that required him to have roommates. Maybe he’s just young and hasn’t yet figured out his financial stuff yet. Someone in their twenties is likely going to be in a different financial situation than someone twice that age.
The question is: what’s his relationship like with money? Is he responsible? You might think it’s not your business, but if your relationship is heading in a serious direction, this is something you need to discuss. If you’re not financially responsible, you’re certainly in no place to judge, but if you are on top of your finances, a potential partner who isn’t could be holding a red flag of note.
20. He Never Apologizes
If he never apologizes, it’s a red flag. Think about it. Does he actually admit he was wrong, or did he attach an excuse? Did he take full responsibility — or throw some of it on you? Apologies should take responsibility and should include repairs to the relationship. Someone who cannot apologize is unlikely to modify their behavior.
21. He Doesn’t Show Appreciation
If you feel like you’re taken for granted, this is a red flag — but it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. There are points in any relationship where this can happen. The real question is this: What does he do about it if you tell him how you feel?
Appreciation shouldn’t stop in the honeymoon phase of a relationship. It should continue. Saying “thank you” doesn’t stop being good manners because you’re romantically linked to one another. It’s still a nice thing to do. But it’s also nice to tell your partner what you appreciate about them. If your partner never shows appreciation, is this something they’re willing to correct or something they expect you to live with and expect?
22. He Ignores Your Needs
Everyone has needs we can meet ourselves. But we also have relational needs. Does he ignore your needs when you bring them up? Is he dismissive? You deserve to have you relational needs met inside your relationship if you’re asking for something reasonable. This doesn’t mean you get to pressure your partner into doing something they’re vastly uncomfortable doing, but it does mean that they should try to meet your needs when it’s possible for them to do. Ignoring your needs is a red flag in men.
23. He Constantly Complains
Another red flag is the man who constantly complains. First of all, this would get old from absolutely anyone, but it’s also a red flag that they aren’t able to change their perspective or look for solutions. This doesn’t bode well for the relationship. You might be the one they complain to now, but you might become the one they complain about.
24. He Doesn’t Believe in Relationship Labels
Beware the man who doesn’t believe in relationship labels. After all, labels aren’t fictional. It’s not a matter of believing in them or not believing in them. Please take this for the absolute garbage that it is and understand that what he’s really saying is he doesn’t want to commit to you. His excuses don’t matter. If you want a relationship label and he doesn’t, you’re better off getting out of this situationship sooner rather than later. He doesn’t want what you want. It has nothing to do with the label.
25. He’s Not Your Best Friend
A man who is certainly your lover but not really someone you consider a best friend is carrying a red flag. The best relationships contain elements of both. Does this person show up for you like a friend? Do you rely on them in similar ways? Can you be honest with them no matter what? Can you trust them? You deserve a relationship where your lover is also your bestie.
No one is saying you have to heed these red flags. What I am saying is that you ignore them at your own risk. I speak from personal experience when I say that it’s better not to do that, but of course, you have to learn that for yourself.
You might wonder if your expectations are too high, but they’re probably not. It’s a bare minimum requirement for a potential partner to be kind, honest, and good to you. You should know where you stand, and you should feel like your feelings matter to the one you’ve chosen.
Red flags aren’t a judgment against the other person. They are a confirmation that this isn’t the person for you. If you can accept that, you might save yourself some time and heartache. If you keep ignoring what you already know to be true, you can expect your next relationship to look a lot like your past ones.
Originally published on The Truly Charming