• Help & Advice
  • Find a Service
    Close icon

Red flags in dating and situationships

It can be hard to know if someone is for you or if it could lead to a healthy relationship. Here are a few red flags to look out for when you’re dating.

When talking to someone new, as well as exploring the things that are important to you in a relationship and trying to work out if you are compatible, it’s worth keeping a look out for some general signs that getting involved with someone might not lead to a healthy, fulfilling relationship. Someone might show one of these signs or a few of them.  

These signs are often referred to as ‘red flags’.  

They shower you with love and affection very early on


Although it can feel exciting or romantic, giving you excessive love, compliments, gifts, affection from a very early stage of the relationship, often called ‘love bombing’, can be dangerous and a sign of problems later down the line. 

Signs of love bombing 

  • Showering you with love, compliments, gifts, affection from a very early stage of the relationship. 
  • Saying you’re ‘the one’ or their soulmate when they haven’t had the chance to get to know you yet. 
  • Thinking really far ahead. Maybe you’ve gone on a couple of dates and they’re already talking about a future together. 
  • Wanting to spend all their free time with you and wanting you to spend all your free time with them. 
  • Demanding lots of messages and phone calls and needing a reply quickly even when you’re busy.
  • Moving too fast – wanting to define the relationship very early on or make commitments without knowing you properly.

Why is love bombing a red flag? 

You might find some of the behaviours flattering and get caught up in the romance, and that’s understandable, having someone into you and wanting to spend time with you is not a bad thing! But if you feel consumed by the other person’s interest, it could become a problem.  

  • Some people will love bomb you without realising it because they’re worried that you won’t stick around and they form attachments very quickly. Other people use it in order to keep you in a relationship that they have control over.  
  • Love bombing can be dangerous, whether the other person is doing it on purpose or not. It can make you lose your sense of self – not understanding who you are, what you like to do, not having enough time to spend with your friends and family. This can then make you reliant on the other person for your happiness and unable to imagine or define your life without them. 

No one should be “your world” or “other half”
You are completely whole without a partner; a partner should simply a positive addition to your life. If it’s not positive or they’re becoming your whole life, it might be unhealthy. 

How to deal with love bombing

  • Setting boundaries is really important, even at the start of a relationship or when you’re getting to know someone. You don’t know how things are going to end and you want to make sure you’re not sacrificing other parts of your life in the process.  
  • Talk to them and explain how you feel and that you need things to slow down. If they continue to not respect the boundary you’ve set, it’s not worth continuing.  

I think I become attached to people too easily, what can I do?  
It’s good that you’ve realised this for yourself. It might be worth thinking about your attachment type and keeping yourself in check. If you feel the need to spend all your time with the other person or message them constantly, you can try to remove the temptation, for example turning your phone off for a few hours or planning other activities. 

What to look for instead:

  • Someone that respects your space and boundaries and sets boundaries of their own. 
  • Someone that enjoys spending time with you but they don’t want you to take over their whole life.  
  • Someone that has their own interests and things that keep them busy outside of your relationship. 
  • Someone that gives gifts that are proportionate to the stage of the relationship, e.g. not excessively expensive or personal in the first few weeks. 
  • Someone that has an interest in the now and getting to know you rather than making plans for your future. 

They make you feel bad about yourself


Known as ‘negging’, sometimes people will try to make you feel bad about yourself so you lose confidence. This often looks like flirting but is a form of manipulation to try and make you prove yourself to them or seek their approval and give them lots of attention. 

Signs of negging 

  • Making out that they are better than you and they are doing you a favour by giving you any of their time. 
  • Negative comments about your appearance, intelligence, personality or life choices.  
  • Targeting your insecurities and then brushing it off as banter or flirting (but if it leaves you feeling upset or less worthy, it’s not either of those).   
  • Repeatedly making fun of you. 
  • Expecting you to prove yourself or show why they should spend time with you. 

Why is negging a red flag? 

Understandably, being made to feel bad about yourself is going to have an impact on your mental health and wellbeing. This can then lead to issues in your broader life with friends/family, at school or at work. 

No one should be trying to zap your happiness or make you feel worthless.  

How to deal with negging

  • If someone in the early stages is making you feel bad about yourself or trying to make themselves appear better than you, then it’s not likely to lead to a healthy relationship. Don’t feel you have to continue talking to them. 
  • You might be tempted to explain and try and change them but, if it’s the early stages of a relationship, it’s probably not worth it.  
  • If it’s happening in your longer-term relationship, it might be worth explaining how it makes you feel, and seeing if they respond to this.  

What to look for instead:  

  • Someone that treats you as an equal. 
  • Someone that supports you and helps you grow rather than putting you down. 
  • Someone that likes you the way you are. 
  • Someone that doesn’t expect you to prove yourself or compete for their time. 

They string you along


You might meet someone that is really hard to pin down, they don’t reply to your texts and don’t commit to dates but then, out of the blue, they message you telling you how much they like you. This could be breadcrumbing which is when someone offers you the bare minimum of attention and effort, so you stick around and stay interested in them and they have you as a back-up.  

Signs of breadcrumbing  

  • Messaging you randomly out of the blue or when they’re bored but then they’ll often not reply for days or weeks at a time.
  • They might sound interested in a date or meeting up but they never commit.  

Why is breadcrumbing a red flag? 

These people are not worth your time. If they were genuinely interested in you, they would make more of an effort. You never know the real reason why someone strings you along it could be that they’re talking to other people that they’re more interested in or it might be that they’re not ready for a relationship. Whatever the reason, at such an early stage in a relationship it’s not worth waiting around for them. 

How to deal with breadcrumbing

It’s tempting to keep them around and hoping that they might put more effort in the future, especially if you haven’t found what you’re looking for yet. But the best way to deal with breadcrumbing is to block, delete, unmatch with them so they can’t keep you interested – Save your time and energy for the people that are deserving of it!   

What to look for instead:

As a bare minimum, you should look for someone that gives you more than just the breadcrumbs of their attention, effort and interest. Look for people that are good communicators, that explain what they’re looking for, what they like about you, where they see it going and follow through with plans.  

They make you question yourself


If someone makes you question what happened, how you feel or how you interpreted a situation, this is known as gaslighting. It can be difficult to spot gaslighting as the gaslighter will make you feel that you were in the wrong and not them.  

Signs of gaslighting 

The person dismissing your emotions. For example, telling you to “calm down” or “it’s not that deep”. They may also deny that something happened, saying that they never said that or that you misread the situation. 

Why is gaslighting a red flag?  

It can make you question yourself and your opinions, make you lose confidence and feel that you’re always in the wrong or there is something wrong with you.  

How to deal with gaslighting

Gaslighting isn’t always obvious in the early stages of a relationship and will often come later when you have disagreements. However, if someone is making you question yourself in the early states of a relationship then it’s not likely to lead to a healthy relationship later down the line- Don’t feel you have to continue talking to them. 

You might be tempted to explain and try and change them but, if it’s the early stages of a relationship, it’s probably not worth it.  

If it’s happening in your longer-term relationship, it might be worth explaining how it makes you feel, and seeing if they respond to this. You can also use the support of friends and family to gain more confidence in your feelings and response to situations.

What to look for instead:

Someone that listens to how you feel, understands where you’re coming from and that you are entitled to your own feelings. They then work with you to help stop you feeling like that in the future.

They don’t like you having your own life


Jealousy is normal in all relationships, there’s no escaping it and it’s often a sign that you care about that person. But when someone takes out their jealousy on you and makes it your problem then it becomes unhealthy and toxic.   

Signs of jealousy 

Jealousy isn’t always unhealthy but it is if they get jealous when you go out with your friends, spend time with other people or get attention from others. 

Why can jealousy be a red flag?  

If jealousy isn’t kept in check and if they make their jealousy your problem then it can become controlling. They might tell you who you can or can’t talk to, what you can wear or what you can post on social media.  

How to deal with jealousy 

  • If they have good reason to not trust you or to be jealous, for example maybe you’re seeing other people but you’ve decided you’re exclusive, then it’s best to end the relationship. Trust is needed for a healthy relationship.
  • Otherwise, you can try to set boundaries, talk about where their jealousy comes from and ways of managing it that don’t have a negative impact on you.  

What to look for instead:

  • Someone that doesn’t try to make you jealous and doesn’t let their jealousy affect how they treat you.
  • Someone that’s open and honest about how they feel about you.  

Coercive control
Coercive control is when someone uses controlling behaviour to make you act a certain way or stay in a relationship. For example, telling you what to wear, who you can spend time with or what you can post on social media.

Coercive control is a sign of an abusive relationship, if you see red flags early on in a relationship it’s important you don’t ignore them.

I’m worried that I’m in an abusive relationship  

  • On this page

    Other Stuff you might find useful…

    Real Stories

    Dating apps: Chloe’s story

    Real Stories

    Dating apps with a disability: Emily’s Story


    Online dating and staying safe


    Sexting and sending nudes

    Our friendly staff are here to help
    Find a Service near you

    100% free & confidential