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20 Relationship Red Flags That Never Mean What We Think (But Are Still Bad Signs)

As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Let's face it: a date is a job interview, that lasts all night." We could also say that when we go on a first date, we're asking questions about red flags. When we ask someone about their job, what they like to do, and how happy they are with their life, we're wondering if there's something weird about them. Red flags are a popular topic of discussion for many of us when we're describing our recent dates to our best friends.

People generally agree on a list of red flags—someone is mean, they're still in love with their ex, they don't have any ambition—but what if there are some red flags that actually mean something different than we're expecting?

There are many times when we find ourselves in a relationship with someone and, suddenly, it's not going as well as we thought. We start to see trouble and it doesn't seem like the future is a bright one for our love story. And this is when we see the red flags that we wish we weren't seeing.

Here are 20 relationship red flags that never mean what we think (but are still bad signs).

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20 He's Still Friends With His Ex

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If our boyfriend is still friends with his ex-girlfriend, this doesn't mean what we think, but it's still a red flag.

This doesn't always mean that he wants to date her again or he still loves her. He could have been friends with her before they started dating so it makes sense for them to continue that friendship, or they genuinely get along and are still friendly but he doesn't have feelings for her.

But their friendship would make us feel bad and most likely, kind of insecure, even if we try our best to move past it. If we tell him that we're not comfortable with this friendship and he ignores our feelings, that's not a good sign, either.

19 He Really, Really Loves His Mom

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What if he's close with his mom... but they're not close in an off-putting way? Even if this is the case, it's still a red flag if they're really, really close.

We want our boyfriend to have a closer relationship with us than with his mom. Of course it's awesome that they get along, but it's possible that she might not like us. She might also get upset when he doesn't see her every day of the week because now he's got a girlfriend. This could create a lot of conflict and that's the last thing that anyone wants when they've started a new relationship.

18 He Talks Too Much About His Previous Relationships

If he talks too much about his previous relationships, we would assume that he's not pleased with our relationship or that he misses his ex.

This doesn't necessarily mean what we think, though, and it could actually mean that he's happy with us and that he has truly moved on. He could talk about his history because he feels that he's so much better off now. But we don't want him to wallow in the past. We want him to focus on the present and the fact that the two of us are in a relationship now. It could become a problem that he seems to be living in the past.

17 We Find That We're Fighting A Lot About Little Things

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When a couple is constantly fighting about little things, it's easy to assume that they're going to break up. We would say that they don't get along and that they must be arguing about more important things as well.

When we keep having these fights with our boyfriend, it could actually mean that we're both going through a busy, stressful time at work, and we're taking out that stress on each other. It's still bad because we shouldn't treat each other like this, and it's still a red flag to think about. This isn't something that should continue (and then it really might lead to a breakup).

16 He Doesn't Want To Feel Pressure To Get Engaged

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It's so easy to think that when a guy isn't jumping to propose, there's something negative going on. It could honestly mean that he wants to grow up a bit first, save more money, or any number of other scenarios. It doesn't have to mean that something is wrong with the relationship.

But if our boyfriend says that he doesn't want to feel pressured to get engaged, that's still a red flag. We don't want to wait for "the perfect time" to do anything, especially marry the person that we love. And if he waits too long we could never end up getting married, and that would be too bad if that's what we want.

15 He Gossips A Lot About Other People, Including Friends And Family

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We might assume that a guy who gossips a lot has a negative side or isn't the nicest person. It might be weird to realize that our boyfriend actually talks about other people a lot.

This is definitely a red flag, although not in the way that we think. When we have a friend who has a bit of a gossip problem, we always wonder if she's going to share what we tell her with other people, or say not-so-nice things about us.

It's totally the same thing here. It proves that he could say mean things about us to the other people in his life, and that's not something that we would ever want our boyfriend to do.

14 He's Unemployed Or Not Sure What To Do With His Life

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We assume this is a red flag because he's unmotivated and we want to date someone who has a drive and a good work ethic. And that's definitely accurate.

But this is a red flag for another reason: if our boyfriend is unemployed and not sure what he wants to do with his life, that could become a big problem. Sure, at first it's just a few weeks, but those weeks can turn into months and those months can turn into a year or more. Before we know it, he's still stuck, and we're wondering when he's going to get his life together.

13 Lately, He's On His Phone All The Time

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It's definitely a red flag when he's on his phone all the time. We could say that this is because he's ignoring us... but this could actually mean that he's stressed out or going through something.

Of course, this is still bad because he's not sharing what he's going through with us. A relationship honestly can't work without both people talking to each other all the time and letting each other into their lives. If we ask him why he's acting like this lately and he still won't discuss it, we can see that it's becoming a problem, and it's going to feel weird that he won't talk to us.

12 He Complains When We Invite Him Out With Our Friends (Especially One Friend)

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It's always a red flag when someone actually says that they don't like their partner's friends.

But this also means something different than we think. He's entitled to not like one of our friends, of course. We might feel the same way about someone that he hangs out with. It's still a red flag because we want him to be nice about our friendships and be supportive of us.

When he always says no when we invite him out with our friends (and even says that he'll never go if one friend is there), it's going to cause some real tension in our relationship. He should be able to go with the flow.

11 He Lives At Home

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One of the most classic red flags is when a guy lives at home. We hear people talking about this all the time, especially when someone is above a certain age.

We might think that he's living at home because he doesn't want to live by himself or be responsible. He could actually be saving money for a place. But this is still a red flag because maybe his parents don't want us to come over, and that could definitely get awkward. If we're in our 20s or 30s and we've had an apartment for a while now, that's going to feel really weird.

10 He Checks Social Media While We're Talking To Him

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Does our boyfriend check social media while we're talking to him? We would say that this is a red flag because it's rude and it seems like he's ignoring us.

This doesn't always mean what we think because he might not even realize that he's doing this. It can be an easy habit to fall into since we all spend a lot of time on our phones. If we bring it up to him, he might apologize and feel bad.

If he keeps doing this, though, and it feels like he never pays proper attention to us, that's when a red flag becomes a bigger thing and it's going to affect our relationship.

9 He's Suddenly Full Of Negativity

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It's never fun to be around a super negative person, and that goes for a family member, best friend, or a friend of a friend. When it's the person that we're dating, it's even worse since, of course, we're around them all the time.

When our boyfriend is suddenly full of negativity, we might think that this is a red flag because it's so unpleasant to spend time with someone who complains so much. That's definitely true, but this is also a red flag because he's changed and is now acting like a different person. It's really tough when this happens, but unfortunately, sometimes it does.

8 He Always Takes Someone Else's Side When We're Upset

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It's a red flag when he always takes someone else's side when we're upset, whether we're going through some family drama or arguing with a friend. It sucks that he won't see our point of view and it can feel really unfair.

That might be why we think that this is a red flag, but this can actually mean something different: that he's upset or he doesn't think that the relationship is working out. Maybe he wants to break up or at least have a serious chat, but he's nervous or not ready to go down that route just yet, so he's acting like this instead.

7 He Says We Should Stop Taking Selfies

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This is another red flag that actually means something very different. We might think that this is mean of him and that he should support everything that we do.

That's true... but this could also mean that he just doesn't like selfies or take them himself. That's totally fair, but he shouldn't judge us or tell us to stop taking selfies. We can do whatever we want to and he should accept that we're confident and strong. If we explain this to him and he still tells us to stop, that's controlling and not the kind of energy that we want in our lives or our relationship.

6 He Can Be Overly Critical

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We think that it's a red flag when a guy is overly critical because it's a mean way to act. That's true, but it's also possible that he doesn't mean to say these things.

It's a red flag because he should notice this behavior and work on it. This is definitely why people say that a long-term relationship can be a lot of hard work. It's not cool or realistic to assume that everything will be fine and we don't have to look at the way that we're acting or speaking and make some changes. Sometimes we mean well but we don't even notice how we're acting, so we have to be careful.

5 He Doesn't Like Romance... But We Feel He Doesn't Put Any Effort Into The Relationship

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There's not much that can be done when a guy just isn't into romance. It's the same thing if we're not into romance ourselves. Do we think that someone can change our mind if roses do nothing for us and we don't like watching cheesy movies? Definitely not.

It definitely sucks when we don't feel that our boyfriend is putting any effort into the relationship, and that be a big problem. It's a red flag when he doesn't like romance because it can mean that he's not trying very hard and he doesn't care about our happiness. That's not cool at all.

4 He Doesn't Offer Us Support When It Comes To Our Job Change/Promotion/Goals

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It's really tough when we're excited about a new job or promotion or a big change that we're making and our boyfriend doesn't see it the same way. He could say something harsh or just refuse to show us the support that we need.

This doesn't necessarily mean what we think. He could be worried about us making this big change because he might think it could affect our relationship. Or maybe he's concerned about money.

It's still a bad sign, though, because we need his support all the time. It has to be unconditional or it's not a real relationship.

3 He Doesn't Want Kids

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We assume this is a red flag because it's bad news if we want kids and the person that we're in a relationship with doesn't. He might say that he doesn't want children because he doesn't feel that he would make a good parent or he doesn't want kids, period.

It's actually good that he's being honest about this because we do have to know his feelings on this subject. But even though it doesn't mean what we think, it's still a bad sign.

There is nothing that we can do if he doesn't want to be a dad. If we want to be a mom someday, we have to take this really seriously.

2 He Never Offers To Clean Up Or Run Errands

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When our boyfriend never offers to clean up or run errands or do anything along those lines, we immediately think, "That's a red flag because he's immature and lazy."

This could actually mean that he's not into cooking or home decor or anything related to those things, so it just doesn't occur to him to help out around the apartment or house. Of course, this is a problem because we want him to help out and it's weird and unfair if we're supposed to handle everything at home. He could also be someone who is very caught up with his job and he's always thinking about work. But our partner should act like a partner or it's just off-putting.

1 He Stays Home Way Too Often

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When our boyfriend stays home way too often, especially if this is something fairly new, this could mean something different than we think. We assume this is a red flag because it could mean that he's acting lazy.

It could mean that he's a bit down lately or feeling like things have been too stressful. We all have days or even weeks like this. If this continues for a while, though, it's still a red flag. We want to feel like we have a real partner and can do things with him and go places.

All of these 20 things are definitely red flags, even if they mean something different than we originally think. If we notice too many of them, it could be really tough to continue the relationship.

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