Some red flags can vary from person to person, but a blanket understanding of what they are can be helpful if or when they crop up in your love life. “Red flags represent the early warnings of unhealthy traits that could potentially be damaging to the person or people involved in the relationship,” says Adams. “They’re tiny signals that make that inner voice say, ‘There’s definitely something off.'”
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There are also yellow flags, which are “more of a warning sign that an issue may develop from a difference, difficulty, or area of struggle,” says Adams.
A yellow flag might be that someone you’re dating isn’t available to spend enough time with you, says Rebekah Montgomery, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Washington D.C. who specializes in relationships. This could be a more circumstantial situation (e.g. they’re burning the midnight oil to nab a job promotion) or turn into a longer-term issue that signals they can’t make you or the relationship a priority.
“Identifying yellow flags is important… [so] you don’t feel blindsided if things don’t work out,” she explains. “But you also don’t have to feel as though every area of difficulty means you should end it with someone.”
What are the most common red flags in relationships?
Aside from the universal red flags that live in the realm of abuse, toxic and/or controlling behavior, and invasions of privacy, a red flag is usually subjective, says Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, a psychotherapist and founder of Shame Free Therapy.