18 Red Flags In A Relationship From A Divorce Attorney


Relationships can experience many problems, but some problems are Red Flags and a warning to something deeper. With over 20 years of practicing family law in San Antonio, Texas, Heather Tessmer has learned to recognize the signs. These are 18 Red Flags you should look for in a relationship.


1. The Obsession with Exes

If your partner just can not stop talking about their ex, whether it’s negative or positive, this is a red flag. There should be a willingness to discuss past relationships while still keeping the focus on the new relationship. If your partner is constantly bad-mouthing their previous relationship, it likely means they have not moved on and still have healing to do. If your partner is always raving about how great their ex is- run. They are likely trying to make you jealous and this behavior is toxic. 

2. Toxic Behavior

Lack of support, jealousy, controlling behaviors, resentment, dishonesty, disrespect, financial abuse, constant stress, ignoring your needs, loss of relationships with friends and family, lack of self-care, walking on eggshells, and hoping for change from your partner are all behaviors that will take a toll on the relationship, and on you as an individual. If only one partner is invested in creating healthy patterns, there is little chance that any change will happen. 

3. Troubles with Intimacy

If you and your partner have had talks about what each person likes and dislikes in the bedroom and there are still problems, take a look at the relationship outside of the bedroom. Has sex become a task? Is it one-sided? Are there external factors at play? Intimacy is essential for every relationship, but it’s not entirely physical. If it feels like the relationship is more “me” instead of “we” and you don’t feel a strong emotional connection with your partner, it could be a sign that you have different styles of physical intimacy which you may be able to improve on through discussing physical needs in-depth. It could also be a sign that you have encountered someone that is too different sexually and won’t be able to meet your needs. 


4. When the “Honeymoon” Phase Ends, And So Does the Effort

The start of a new relationship is mystifying, full of excitement and fun. After some time, the Honeymoon Phase will come to an end. This happens in every relationship and you and your partner have to communicate about your wants and needs in the relationship. If your partner has withdrawn their effort, leaving you to meet their wants and needs as well as your own, it’s time to have a serious conversation about their priorities and where the relationship is going. Consistent effort in relationships are essential for each person to have trust and confidence in the other person. 

5. You’re Hesitant To Share Good News With Them Because You Worry They Will Respond Negatively

If they can’t celebrate good moments with me, then what can they appreciate? When our good news is met with jealousy, belittling, disbelief, or rejection, it can make us feel confused and detached from our own experiences in ways that distort our reality. The success that we experience doesn’t disappear, but the way we interpret these moments transforms in subtle but powerful ways when we are met with discourtesy. Sharing good news with each other creates collective intimacy in the relationship and strengthens the bond between partners.

6. You’re Not Proud To Be With Them

If you are hesitant to introduce your partner to your family or friends, or if you’re embarrassed to bring them to a work event, it’s time to stop and think about why you have those feelings. It could be something that is easily fixed with a conversation, or it could be a personality trait that can’t be changed. Healthy boundaries can help you determine how to handle the situation. For example, if they are loud, sloppy, or rude while on a date in public and expect you to tolerate it- run. This is toxic behavior that will not improve over time. 


7. They Don’t Want To Talk About Their Past Relationships
At All

Everything about past relationships does not have to be shared in the new relationship, but communicating your experiences is essential to truly get to know your partner. If your partner is a completely closed book and refuses to discuss their past relationships altogether, this raises concern that there could be something they are hiding, or that they lack the emotional maturity to share problems in their life. This also raises concern that they will not want to hear about your past experiences, which can cause issues with identifying triggers and understanding what you have been through prior to the relationship. 


8. Decisions Are Not Made Together

Each decision you as a couple can successfully make together brings you closer to each other, deepens the connection and increases the level of trust between you. If your partner takes your opinions for granted and makes decisions without discussing them, there needs to be a conversation where boundaries are clearly expressed. If your partner pushes back and insists that they do not need to include you, this can become a toxic relationship where your wants and needs are routinely disregarded. 


9. Spending Way Too Much Time Apart

Alone time is important for everyone to grow as an individual and to avoid codependency, but if you find yourself canceling plans because they decided to go out with their friends without you, or if you go days at a time without hearing from them, the relationship could be in trouble. Have conversations with your partner about how much time you would like to spend together, and try to make time for each other. Run errands together, go on a double date, or create a schedule that works for both of you. If your partner does not make an effort to prioritize time with you, it’s time to ask how much value they place on you and your relationship. 


10. They Are Jealous Of Your Family and Friends

Typically, we can dismiss jealousy on our own, but unhealthy jealous behavior happens when we indulge that feeling and act impulsively from a place of suspicion and insecurity and jeopardize the very relationship we’re most afraid to lose.If your partner has rules about who you can talk to, requires you to check in with them regularly, expects you to spend all of your time with them, or monitors your texts, calls, and emails, there needs to be a serious conversation where healthy boundaries are set. This can quickly spiral into a dangerous situation where you are controlled by your partner and isolated from friends and family.

11. Excuses

If your partner is constantly late for dates, forgets important things, or doesn’t do what is needed and makes excuses for their behavior, be careful. They could have a fear of confrontation that causes them to avoid talking about their mistakes due to being scared of criticism, which can potentially be resolved with therapy. On the other hand, they could be avoiding responsibility and trying to make you take the blame for their actions. If your partner thinks they are always right and tries to intimidate you to defend their actions, they could be showing signs of toxic behavior that needs to be addressed immediately. 


12. Secrets

Everyone has the right to privacy in any relationship, and there are some things that are better off unsaid, but if you discover that your partner has kept important information hidden from you, it can be devastating to discover the truth. Secrets impede the communication between partners and can wear away mental and physical health and negatively affect the ability to be close and connected. 


13. They Are Disrespectful To Family 

If your partner is rude and demanding of their own family, this typically will reflect how they will treat you. Not everyone has a close relationship to their family, so this is a topic that will need thorough conversation to establish their feelings towards their relatives. There will be patterns of behavior passed down from the relationship they witnessed growing up, such as expectations, coping mechanisms, and communication styles.


14. When it’s Time to Commit, They Ghost You

Abandonment can happen to anyone at any point in a relationship. Being ghosted can have significant long-term effects on a person’s self confidence. They may blame themselves for the relationship abruptly ending and question what exactly went wrong. Some partners will use push-pull manipulation tactics in which they intentionally abandon the relationship only to reel their partner back in when they are vulnerable. This forms an unhealthy bond to keep the other person from leaving the toxic relationship. 


15. They Have An Addiction

Substance abuse indicates that a person struggles with impulse control and self-destructive habits. Depending on the substance, any relationship can quickly turn toxic if addiction is present. If your partner relies on drugs or alcohol to get through the day, week, or a tough situation, it could signify they haven’t yet figured out how to cope without altering their mental state. 

16. There Are Signs Of Manipulative Behavior

If your partner constantly makes you feel intimidated, insecure, or guilty, you could be in a controlling relationship. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which one partner is trying to manipulate the other person by making them question their own thoughts and feelings. An emotionally manipulative person looks to use, control, or even victimize someone else. Emotional manipulation from a partner can take a toll on your well-being. If you experience emotional manipulation from your partner, your relationship may be abusive.


17. They Might Be A Narcissist

People who lack empathy are often unable to recognize the needs of others and are dismissive of others’ problems. If your partner has the need for excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement, a grandiose sense of self-importance, has the belief that others are envious of them, or demonstrates arrogant behaviors, your partner may be a narcissist. For a narcissist, change means opening up again to the very feelings they’ve learned to avoid at all costs. Not all narcissists can change. For a narcissist, change means facing the feelings they’ve learned to avoid at all costs. If your partner might be a narcissist, proceed with caution as anxiety and depression commonly develop as a result of narcissistic abuse. 


18. They Show Any Forms of Violence

Destroying or throwing objects, threats, intimidating you with weapons, shoving, slapping, choking or hitting you, attempting to stop you from pressing charges, threatening to harm themselves, threatening to harm you, pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with, pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol are all abuse and non-negotiable for a relationship. At the first sign of violence, get away from your partner and stay in a safe place with a trusted friend or family member.

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