top of page
  • Writer's pictureNatasha Patiño

“Are they the one…. Maybe Not?!” ---- 10 Red Flags in a Relationship

Hello everyone…..Natasha here again!!!

Today is all about helping build healthy relationships and being aware of when it’s good to keep going with the relationship, like a green light when you’re driving. OR when you need to stop because you see the red light.

When it comes to possibly finding ‘the one,’ it can create a lot of mixed feelings. Excitement, fear, fun, hard feelings……all these mixed feelings. What often happens when we start dating someone we are attracted to, is that we see all the wonderful things about them and ignore or minimize the negative. Of course…. no one is perfect, but my hope with this blog is to make it clearer what to look for that are toxic (red flags) and what are healthy signs (green flags).

Before we start, I want to make sure I point out that seeing one of these red flags does NOT mean that you necessarily have to end the relationship right away. What it tells you, is that you need to set some strong boundaries. If your partner accepts it respectfully, and works on trying to grow and do better, then that ‘red flag’ can turn into ‘green.’ If, though, your partner tries to hurt you with their words, make you feel crazy for your boundaries, and does not change…. then you may need to think about getting out. If you see A LOT of these red flags, though, you may need to take a step back to evaluate this relationship and see whether you need to get out.

For this blog, my biggest resource is using Dr. Patrick Carnes’ diagram about intensity versus intimacy relationships from his book, “The Betrayal Bond”. I use this diagram with almost every client and have found it super helpful to work through what does a healthy relationship look like versus toxic. With each red flag, I will plan to give a short description of each one, and examples to help clarify and make it easier to see what type of relationship you are in. And beware…. you MAY also see some of these toxic behaviors in yourself!!!

Red Flag #1 – Playing the Victim or Perpetrator

The best way to explain this one, is that the other person does NOT take responsibility for their part or say they are sorry. They will turn things around on you, and make you feel crazy, ridiculous, sensitive, moody, etc. Say whatever they need to say, but not apologize.

Example 1: At your partner’s work party, their flirty coworker continues to hug your partner and be too touchy feely. You later calmly tell your partner that you didn’t like how the coworker kept touching and putting their arms around them. Your partner says “I knew I shouldn’t have brought you. You’re so insecure, I can’t even talk to friends at work (being the perpetrator).”

Example 2: You tell your partner that he’s been working a lot, every day, and all day long. You tell him you miss him and want to spend time with him. He says “don’t you know I do this for you (playing victim)?! You’re so ungrateful, I don’t even know why I’m with you sometimes.”

Red Flag #2 – Fear & Arousal

Fear and arousal have to do with being on edge a lot, tense, stressed, scared, etc. It can be a fear of what are they going to say, what are they going to do, are they cheating on you, are they going to leave, going hit me, or cuss me out.

Example 1: Your partner goes with you to a family gathering. You are super tense and anxious, because your partner often causes a scene. It can be saying inappropriate things, being offensive, being condescending to you, etc.

Example 2: Your partner goes to his ex-partner’s house to pick up their son for the weekend. They stay over there for hours, does not pick up the phone while they’re there, then comes home and cusses you out for being so jealous and controlling.

Red Flag #3- One in and One Out

This has to do with commitment…how invested they are in the relationship. Imagine having one foot in the door (the relationship), and one foot outside the door. They may do things or say things that shows their lack of commitment, their need to be single/free, not wanting to be tied down…however you want to say it, they just are not 100% in the relationship.

Example 1: You partner of three months, does not want to put a label to the relationship…not make it official. They want to take it slow, does not want to put it on social that you’re in a relationship, doesn’t introduce you to friends/family.

Example 2: Your ask your partner about holiday plans that’s three months away. They do not want to commit, because they don’t know where you two will be by then.

Red Flag #4- Threats of Betrayal and Abandonment

This important one is when your partner does or says things that create this fear of abandonment or betrayal. Even if they did not betray or abandon you, this constant state of fear is very toxic.

Example 1: When you get into an argument, your partner says, “I’m done with this.” They get in the car, leave, and is gone all night without responding to any calls or texts.

Example 2: Whenever your partner goes out of town for work or to see friends, they will not respond to calls, texts, or anything the whole time.

Red Flag #5 – High Drama

With this one, imagine a soap opera!!! With these shows, it’s exciting because something is always going on, BUT we don’t want to live in one. With high drama, things are up and down, ever changing, just something is always going on.

Example 1: You often break up and get back together again.

Example 2: Your partner is a huge flirt and has cheated in the past. Now your partner wants to go away to a bachelor/bachelorette party and you two are fighting because you can’t trust them, and your partner calls you insecure.

Red Flag #6 – No Structure or Rules

Think of this one, as things being unfair and out-of-control. A lot of times you’ll see a partner being hypocritical.

Example 1: One partner demands to be able to look through the other one’s phone, have social media passwords, and has the ‘right’ to check it anytime they want to. But the other partner cannot do the same.

Example 2: One partner hangs out and goes out to dinner with their ex because they are ‘just friends.’ YET, the other partner has a hard time even going out for lunch with coworkers without the partner getting upset and jealous.

Red Flag # 7 – High Distractions

With high distractions, basically what happens here is that other things, people, places get in the way of the relationship. A partner consistently puts those other things first, before the partner as if they are not a priority.

Example 1: Anytime your partner has a day off, they consistently make plans with their friends without considering that you would like to spend time with them.

Example 2: Your partner chooses to work really late, weekends, and when he’s home he’s working. When you ask to do something, he chooses to put work first and if there’s time…THEN he can hang out with you.

Red Flag # 8 – Built on Secrecy

Here is not just about keeping secrets but feeling like one has to keep things from partner to keep the peace.

Example 1: Not telling our partner things, even small things, because we know that they will blow up, yell, leave us, call us names, etc.

Example 2: Your partner hanging out with exes and/or talking to them on social media behind your back.

Red Flag # 9 – Escalation

Does this ever happen to you, where you bring up one small thing and it becomes this huge thing?!! That is escalation!!!

Example 1: You tell your spouse that your parents were considering moving to the couple’s state to be close and help with their grandkids. Next thing you now, your partner is blowing up, cussing you out, threatening for divorce if they move near them.

Example 2: You get into a minor argument with your partner, and then he threw your phone across the room, punched a hole in the wall, cussed you out, and/or broke things.

Red Flag # 10 – Unpredictable

This one is simple…. your partner is unpredictable!! One day they are super sweet, caring, and willing to do anything for you, then they are yelling and calling you names. You don’t know what is going to happen next!

Example 1: Your partner accuses you of cheating on him with a coworker, that you only have a friendship with. Calls you horrible names, and the next day he cries apologetically. He says he’s sorry about his insecurities and is super sweet the next few days to make up for it.

Example 2: He agreed to go to your cousin’s birthday party later that night, you’re so looking forward to it. He gets upset that you’re not ready by 6pm like planned because you had to work late (or any excuse he can find), now he’s refusing to go and calling you selfish!!

Please remember, just because you see one of these…don’t freak out and end the relationship or friendship. We are looking for PATTERNS of behaviors, and this is what you need to look out for. If you see these in others, remember to set some assertive, respectful boundaries. If you see this in yourself, please try to catch yourself when doing this to help build healthy relationships. Working with a therapist can really help a person work on themselves and their relationships with others.

Until next time,


Green sun half-04_edited_edited_edited.png
Green sun half-04_edited_edited_edited.png
Green sun half-04_edited_edited_edited.png
Green sun half-04_edited_edited_edited.png
Green sun half-04_edited_edited_edited.png

How can I leave a comment on your blog posts?

Not accepting comments on my blog was a tough choice. I want my readers to be able to interact and feel like a part of a community. However, comments are hard to regulate, and not everyone makes comments with the feelings of others in mind. Comments can be triggering or upsetting for some readers, and that doesn’t serve my mission of creating a safe space to learn.

If you read one of my posts and have feedback, an important question, or a story to share, please send me a message here. I would be happy to reply to you directly, and perhaps even share our conversation as a blog post, with your permission. Don’t forget to subscribe here. It’s free!

bottom of page