It’s cuffing season, and many of us are settling down for the winter. Whether you’re looking for that special new someone or already in a relationship, here are the five most common relationship “red flags” and how to deal with them.

Red Flag: They won’t introduce you to their friends or family.

One of the most common red flags can be a tricky one when it comes to family, because your beau may not be close with their family or be wary of introducing someone to them. Not meeting their friends might mean they aren’t serious about the relationship, or it could be that their friends are rude or embarrassing. However, poor friend quality can also serve as a red flag, as some psychologists argue that our personalities tend to reflect the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If this one is a deal-breaker, then communicate the importance of meeting their friends! If you’ve been together and had no luck here, it might be that they are trying to take it slow -or that they already have a partner. Having no friends at all could be a source of concern too, or at least, an indicator of poor social skills.

Red Flag: Secrets and Lies

If not meeting their friends and family might make you feel like you’re actually the side piece, consider whether your partner is also keeping excessive secrets or lying. In a new relationship, it makes sense to withhold sensitive information like passwords, bank account info, etc., but if the relationship progresses and they still religiously hide their phone from you or lie about their spending habits or whereabouts, this could be problematic. People seek different degrees of space and privacy and this is an important conversation to have! Discuss your needs about responding to messages and checking in with each other. If they continue to ignore or avoid you, or if they leave town frequently or get caught in repeated lies about their whereabouts, it is possible not that the relationship is not important to them.. or that they have another partner. We all have that one friend who’s a CIA level internet sleuth- if you really are unsure, put them on the case and see what they can dig up on socials.


Red Flag: Love Bombing

On the flipside of secrecy and avoidance, we have love bombing. It can be hard to tell at the start, but love bombing means more than just buying presents and being excited to see you, it involves control where someone attempts to move into many aspects of your life very quickly, even when you don’t really know them. Romantic movies make it seem like this “love at first sight” type energy should be sought after, when in reality, it can be extremely toxic. Someone who says “I love you” within a few days of meeting you, or who wants to move in or get married right away might be love bombing you. How to tell? Find out how they deal with “no.” If they get jealous or hostile when you pull away instead of respecting your boundaries, this could be a sign of someone who may be exhibiting narcissistic tendencies or deep rooted insecurities.


Red Flag: Extreme Mood Swings

That old adage “crazy in the head, crazy in the bed” can sometimes ring true and we can become intoxicated and drawn in by wild erratic behaviors and the excitement that can ensue. But after the initial attraction fades, we need to evaluate whether we are falling for someone who’s just slightly unhinged (and aren’t we all sometimes?) or someone who has serious mental health issues that are not being addressed. Erratic behaviors like extreme mood swings, lashing out, or being unable to use their words can all become red flags. For example, a friend of mine recently had a new partner suddenly snap, scream, and throw her out of the house one moment after they were snuggling with no apology or explanation. Especially if problems with emotional regulation are paired with gaslighting (the attempt to make you second-guess your reality by denying that the mood swings are happening) then it’s probably best to take some space and not get sucked in any deeper.


Red Flag: Excessive Put downs

We all have to learn to give and take criticism in relationships, but sometimes this can go too far. Put downs sound like “You’re lucky I’m with you, you’ll never find anyone as good as me” or, “You know no one actually likes you, right?” Usually this stems from your partner’s own insecurities. Address it by speaking up about how it makes you feel, rather than getting dragged into an insult match. If they refuse to acknowledge or stop the behavior, then it is ok to move on- or if this is long term, to seek couples therapy.