10 Red Flags of an Unhealthy Relationship

We all know that relationships can be difficult.  It becomes even more challenging when you are involved in one that is unhealthy.  Here are 10 RED FLAGS that you may need to reevaluate your relationship or seek counseling to fully address problematic issues.

  1. Letting your partner define you– You’ve lost your identity based upon your partner’s opinion of you.  Or you start neglecting yourself or feeling pressure to change to meet your partner’s expectations (Ex: you don’t take time for yourself because it’s being “selfish” or you don’t dress up anymore because they won’t “approve”).  You may also feel that you can’t have your own opinion for fear of judgement.
  2. Having to justify your actions– You have to seek approval for everything you do- where you go or who you see.  Maybe you can’t go to the store without checking in first or your partner always questions the time it took you to come home from work- “You’re 10 minutes late- where have you been?”
  3. Feeling trapped or stagnant in your relationship– Maybe you feel that you can’t grow in the relationship and you’re afraid to let go.  You recognize the relationship isn’t going anywhere, but you don’t know how your partner will react if you try to break-up- maybe they are controlling or have anger issues.
  4. Jealousy, Possessive or Controlling Behavior– Your partner accuses you of cheating all the time.  Or they always accuse you of trying to attract other men/women (maybe by the way you dress or if you happen to make eye contact with the opposite sex).  They may also try to control who you can see- they don’t want you around your family or friends.
  5. Aggressive or Abusive behaviors– This includes verbal or physical aggression such as temper outbursts, threats, and destructive behaviors; This also includes constant ridicule, insults, demeaning language, physical violence, or forced sex.
  6. Manipulation– Your partner tells you what you are “allowed” to do to get their affection or attention.  Or during an argument or discussion, your partner tends to make themselves the victim to make you feel guilty even when it’s not your fault.
  7. Feeling obligated or forced to engage in sex to “make them happy” or “keep the peace”
  8. Having a lack of privacy– feeling forced to share everything with the other person or your partner checks and tracks everything you do
  9. Alcohol or drug abuse– Partner is always high or drunk
  10. Use of force or coercion– Partner threatens to harm you if you don’t do what they say or they threaten to harm themselves (Ex: I’ll kill myself if you leave; If I can’t have you nobody will).


If you are unhappy in your relationship, you have three options: 1) accept it, 2) improve it, or 3) leave it.  

Acceptance is unhealthy because it means you will remain unhappy.  Acceptance means that you willingly choose to be mistreated and it’s OK (which it truly isn’t).

Improvement would require change between BOTH of you.  You must be willing to go through the process of change for the benefit of the relationship.  Not only will it benefit the relationship, but it will also benefit you.

Remember- the only person you can change is YOU.  So be careful trying to change your partner.  They must be WILLING.

Improvement could also mean self-improvement as well.  You don’t have to wait on them to change to make positive changes for yourself.  Your personal growth and development outside of the relationship is necessary for you to be truly happy.  This way, if the relationship does not work out- you are still in a good place in your life.

Don’t stay in a relationship for the wrong reasons- fear of being alone or guilt.  If you find this challenging, talk to a trusted family member or friend. You may even have a pastor or find a counselor who can work with you (and even your partner if they are willing).