Red Flags in relationships

Take a look at some relationships red flags… Image via Unsplash

Couples in crisis: Top major red flags in a relationship

In a recent study, researchers have revealed the six major red flags indicating a relationship heading for the rocks.

Red Flags in relationships

Take a look at some relationships red flags… Image via Unsplash

Some relationships are long-lasting, with one or both of the partners tolerating each other’s traits endlessly. In other cases, some relationships break down because one or both of the partners can no longer tolerate certain traits or behaviours.

Researchers based at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, investigated the dissolution of romantic relationships and friendships. It turns out that a wandering eye and cheating were not deal breakers in relationships, according to the psychologists behind the new study. 

The research, undertaken in 2015 and recently published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal, studied 285 undergraduate students in the United States. The average age of participants in the study was 22 years of age.

According to the study, there are six major red flags that most men and women see as non-negotiable in a romantic partner.  The study found that these red flags differed for long-term and short-term relationships, as well as between men and women.



When it came to long-term relationships, being apathetic — inattentive, uncaring, untrusting and dismissive of interests — was considered the biggest red flag for both men and women.


Second, was somebody who was considered “gross” or having poor hygiene, being “unattractive,” smelling bad or having certain health issues like sexually transmitted diseases.


Being clingy ranked third, which was seen by participants as covering controlling behaviour and jealousy.


Other major red flags in long-term relationships include any sort of addiction.


A lack of motivation and ambition and poor financial prospects came in next.


Having sex with or having dated many other partners was found to come in last place.


Men and women appear to have similar opinions on red flags in long-term relationships, but these differed for short-term relationships. Overall, women had stronger deal-breaker ratings than men.

Women viewed an unmotivated partner as being more of a turn-off than a partner who was promiscuous in a short-term relationship, while men felt being promiscuous was worse.

When analysing this study, psychiatrist Grant Hilary Brenner said as per New York Post:

“Preferably, red flags are caught early on and not after a significant bond is formed.”

Researchers noted that earlier research generally focused on what people look for in a partner rather than what they don’t want in a potential partner.

Brenner warned that looking purely for desirable traits in a partner when first dating could risk the person trying to check boxes rather than searching for genuine connection and attraction.

“Regardless, in all cases, across the lifespan, it’s important to approach relationships wisely, weighing desirable and undesirable factors, getting to know the other person before going all in, grounded in self-knowledge and compassion.”

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