Love has a way of blinding people from the red flags in a relationship that may be waving right in front of their eyes. Some warning signs don’t require you to look too closely, like a partner who punches a wall when their favorite baseball team loses, or a date who makes racist or homophobic comments (never okay). But what about more subtle cues, like the fact that they keep swearing you’re their soulmate after only two dates or being a little too clingy?
No matter how stable, healthy, or passionate your romance is, you’re bound to encounter annoying (fine, maddening) moments and pet peeves. But the signs of trouble we’re referring to go beyond those little things that irk you. We’re talking about behaviors that give (or should give) you serious pause and can sometimes indicate a larger pattern.
Trusting your instincts is one of the best ways to recognize these red flags, Amy D. Marshall, PhD, psychology professor and director of the Relationships and Stress Lab at Pennsylvania State University, tells SELF. “You can also consider what made you uncomfortable in your past relationships,” Dr. Marshall says.
Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done, and many of us wind up wasting days, months, or even years with the wrong person. That’s why we’ve rounded up some common red flags that might not be obvious—so you can navigate your love life with more confidence (and fewer regrets).
1. Their dating profile doesn’t match who they really are.
We all want to make a great first impression, but “there’s a difference between presenting your best self and being inauthentic,” Gina Senarighi, PhD, a couples counselor based in Madison, Wisconsin, and the author of Love More Fight Less, A Communication Workbook for Every Couple, tells SELF.
Saying you’re six feet” when you’re actually five ten, or claiming you’re an “avid hiker” when you actually prefer walking on paved paths may sound like harmless fibs. Maybe this person is just a little insecure or scared you’ll judge them for their unconventional (or uninteresting) reality. Whatever the reason, it’s worth exploring because a lack of self-awareness (and lack of trust) combined with incongruence between words and actions can cause problems when it comes to conflict resolution down the line, Dr. Senarighi says.
2. They describe all of their exes as “crazy.”
Some relationships end so badly that we’re still sour about an ex years down the line—but if your new partner spews vitriol at any and all of their “crazy” former lovers every chance they get, it’s a good clue that they might be the problem.