10 Red Flags to Look for in Romantic Relationships

From the LYWB team: On Wednesday, Bethany offered encouragement to help singles thrive during wedding season. While we’re on the topic of singleness and relationships, we thought it would be great to pull this solid post from the archives. When you’re dating, it’s important to take red flags seriously. What might some of those look like? Here’s Bethany!

The red flags were there, but I ignored them. I didn’t want to believe that my hours upon hours upon hours of invested time wouldn’t have a payoff.

I didn’t want to have to face the truth.
I didn’t want to be honest with myself.
I didn’t want to think about my future without him.
I didn’t want to imagine being single.
I didn’t want to face starting over.
I didn’t want to deal with the pain of a broken heart.

Looking back, I wish I would have acknowledged the red flags much sooner. Ignoring the warning signs in my relationship was a bad idea. It didn’t save me from heartache; it only caused the situation to drag on, leading to more spent emotions, more time invested, more heartache, and more pain.

Let me encourage you to learn from my mistakes and be wise and honest in your romantic relationships. Please don’t ignore red flags if they pop up. Bravely face the issues head on.

Here are ten red flags to look for in your romantic relationships:

1. Your family isn’t sure about him.

This is a big deal. God gave you your family on purpose and for a purpose. They know you better than anyone else. They live with you and understand your strengths and weaknesses more than your friends do. If your family has major reservations about a guy, take that seriously. Listen to their wisdom.

2. You see lots of talk but little action.

When a guy spits out a lot of big ideas but fails to follow through on them, that’s a big problem. Words should lead to action. If your guy is talking a lot but producing little action, you need to take a step back. You need a man who is more than big talk. You need a man who follows through and lives his faith in Christ.

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation (James 5:12).

3. He conforms to who you want him to be.

“You love overseas missions? I do, too!”
“You’ve always wanted a big family? Same here.”
“You’re passionate about feeding the homeless? I am, too!”

The problem isn’t that you might have similar interests, the problem is that the guy is conforming all of his passions, beliefs, and desires to fit yours. If he is going to be the spiritual leader in his family, he needs to have convictions, passions, and purposes of his own. If he is simply conforming to whatever you are passionate about, you’ve got problems. You need a leader, not a chameleon.

4. He has few personal convictions.

Conviction is a strong belief. It’s being confident that what you believe is true. Conviction leads to passion. If your guy has few personal convictions and doesn’t know what he believes, you need to figure out why. A guy who is seeking after the Lord, studying His Word, and striving to live out Christ-likeness will have convictions. If your guy lacks conviction, there’s a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.

5. He pulls you down spiritually.

Does your guy push you forward or pull you down? God’s Word says,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25–27).

Does he love you and serve you like Christ or make loving and serving Christ more difficult?

6. He breaks his promises.

Every girl wants to marry a man she can truly trust. When he doesn’t fulfil his promises (big or small), it creates a lack of trust in the relationship. When your man says he is going to do something (i.e. spend time in God’s Word daily, abide by a curfew, work out three times a week, etc.) but regularly breaks his word, that’s a red flag. You need to be able to trust that what your man says he will do will get done.

“Do what you have promised” (Num. 32:24).

7. He has habitual sin issues.

Habitual sins do not disappear in marriage. They may get covered up by dreamy days and fluttery hearts, but they will rear their ugly heads if not confessed and surrendered to Christ. If your guy is stuck in a habitual sin (i.e. porn, lust, anger issues, alcohol and drug abuse, gluttony, etc.), you need to stop and seek outside counsel. Don’t just plunge forward and naively hope the sin will disappear; it won’t.

8. He’s in a rush.

When a guy is in a massive rush to move forward in your relationship, put your antenna up. Stop and ask about the why behind his rush. If there is a good reason, you need to know what that is and you (and your parents or mentors) need to be on board. Don’t let a guy’s passion and speedy mindset overtake you. Take a deep breath and slow down. Time is on your side.

9. He’s overly concerned about himself.

Life isn’t about us; it’s about Christ. If a guy doesn’t have a proper view of Christ, he will be overly concerned with himself. His needs, his wants, his feelings, and his comforts will be his main focus. You and I both need a guy who desires to put Christ first in his life. He won’t be perfect in this area, but he will have the desire to focus on Christ first, others second, and himself last! Ask yourself, do you see this mantra lived out in his life?

“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

10. He has a shallow relationship with God.

The foundation of your guy’s life should be his relationship with God. If he isn’t spending time in the Word (Ps. 119:105), involved in church (Heb. 10:25), seeking outside wisdom (Prov. 12:15) and accountability (James 5:16), you need to take a closer look at his foundation.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matt. 7:24–25).

That’s a wrap!

I’d love to hear from you now. Have you noticed any of these red flags in your past or present relationships? Do you you think any/all of these should be concerns? What red flags would you add to the list?

About Author

Bethany Baird

After a brief experience in the modeling industry, Bethany’s eyes were opened to how self-absorbed and lost her generation of young women really are. She and her older sister were inspired to start a blog (www.GirlDefined.com) and wrote a book Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity and Identity. Their passion is to help young women find God’s truth about beauty and womanhood and the freedom that comes from living a radically different life for Christ.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

  • * Requests or gives personal information such as email address, address, or phone number.
  • * Attacks other readers.
  • * Uses vulgar or profane language.
  • Becca<3

    Hey Bethany, thanks so much for this today! I have definitely needed this truth. Do you think that there is any way to find these things out before starting a one-on-one relationship with a guy? For example, I met a really sweet, Christian young man at work (Chick-Fil-A), and we’ve been texting for the past couple weeks. I’ve tried to be transparent in my convictions and blunt in asking him about his. Do you believe this approach makes a relationship (platonic or romantic) to serious to quickly if we are discussing sensitive topics? My rationale behind everything is that I guess I’m trying to “speed date” per say, and find out the important things as quickly as possible to avoid heartbreak. The problem is that I already have a crush on him, and I know he likes me too. Do you have any thoughts about my “speed dating” approach with guys, as well as ways I can guard my heart and the heart of this young man?

    Another red flag I think is important, but isn’t exactly a character issue, is if your man doesn’t have any higher education after high school. I am also dealing with this with the young man at work. He has no desire to go to college, and I’m still not entirely sure why. The reason I believe this is a red flag is because at least for me personally, I want to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool my kids. If my husband does not have any degree or certificate or anything, and is unable to get a job to adequately support our family, then I will be forced to work outside the home in order to provide substantial income. That is not the kind of future I desire to have.

    • Tessa

      Although I am still single, I share your desire to homeschool my children one day in order to disciple them spiritually and fulfill my God given role. I think that asking him about his own education and perhaps bringing up a friend who was homeschooled would give you insight into his convictions regarding education. This way, you know that he’s not just agreeing with you.

      Another thing I would add is, if he grew up Christian, how are his relationships with his family? Is he close with them?

      Is he involved in a good church that would also fit you?

      As for college, my dad didn’t attend college, and has still managed to get an above minimum wage job that provides well for our family. Ask him where he sees himself in 10 years. After all, a lack of motivation is a character flaw, but low academic ability is not.

      So, be purposeful, and find an objective person you can talk to about this relationship.

      • Becca<3

        Thank you very much for your advice and gracious words! You have a lot of good insight:)

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Hey, Becca…

      I hear your heart—not wanting to get hurt is certainly understandable. But deeper relationships develop out of friendship. And friendship develops over time, shared interests, passions and pursuits.

      Check out these posts for insights and suggestions on getting to know a guy.

      • What Kind of Guy Should You Date? http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=1848
      • Is He the One? http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=562
      • Is it ok to date just for fun? http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=669
      • Boyfriends VS. Boy Friends http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=728
      • Can Guys and Girls Be Just Friends? http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=324
      • Should Girls pursue guys — http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=522-

      Praying for you, friend!

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie

  • Juditha

    Hey Bethany, I think you make some good points. I have a question though. What if you don’t have family who can give you advice in this? What people would you recommend to get to a know a (potentional) young man? This is something I’ve been wondering about lately… I also have one comment, I don’t think it’s wise if someone ALWAYS puts him/herself last, that can really wear people down if they can’t keep their limits in mind. In addition, if a man would always put others first, you might run the risk that he isn’t able to take a step back (e.g. from church activities) and focus on his family first. I think there should be some balance, and the many burn-outs that people have are just one reason for that.

    One red flag I have is a lack of compassion, both for others as for himself. Beating himself or others up for past sins or mistakes won’t help. I want him to be able to ask for and grant forgiveness and then let go and start anew. A lack of compassion, which also includes listening to people and being there for them even when it’s difficult, would be a huge red flag for me.

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Great question, Juditha,

      Talking with someone who knows you well would be helpful. Perhaps a mentor/ disciple? Or your pastor and his wife?

      Encourage those you’re meeting with to feel the freedom to ask questions that will help surface issues that might otherwise go unaddressed.

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie

  • Emma

    Thanks for the hints and tips! Although I’m not in a situation like the one you wrote about, I have a friend who is. Do you have any advice to give me as I try to help her out in this area of her life? We’re not really close, but I want to do all I can for her to prevent her from making a mistake, and I realize that God has a plan for her life that might require a bit of hardship. Thanks again for your words of wisdom. Know that I pray for you to learn much from God so that you might in turn teach us!

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Hey, Emma…

      We love your heart for your friend. Since you’re not super close to her, you might begin by praying for her specifically. Ask the Lord to show you His heart for her… what does He see? How does He want you to love her? Speak truth to her?

      Building a relationship with her will likely be necessary to spraeak into her life, Emma. Then as you engage with her remember that, “ Questions prick the conscience, but statements harden the heart.”

      So you’ll want to ask the Lord to give you questions that will help your friend process where she’s at and what she’s doing.

      Praying for you and your friend… may her heart be turned toward the path of righteousness.

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie

      P.S. Thanks so much for your prayers for Bethany! I know she’s deeply thankful.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe your family disapproves of the guy you are interested in because he is so strong in his Christian faith, and they are nonbelievers 🙂 I mean, I guess a lot of the readers here are probably from wise, Christian families and the first point assumed that was what their family is like, but just remember not all Christian teen girls who may stumble across this blog or others like it come from believing families. If we want to reach the world for Christ, we have to acknowledge a variety of situations that potential believers may be in or experiences they may have gone through. God can reach to the darkest of places 🙂

    • GraceofGod

      I totally agree with you!

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      You are absolutely right, Anonymous.

      Thank you for this reminder… God is, indeed, reaching into the darkest places of the world with His gospel!!

      Thanks, friend… you have spoken wisely.

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie

  • kayla cc

    Bethany!!!!! This is so awesome and true.

    I am so grateful that as I was reading this God spoke to my heart, remeinding me that all of these qualities (deep relationship with God, strong personal passions and convictions, etc) that I’ll be keeping an eye out for in guys are the same qualities that I need to have.

  • Jess

    I am Interested in a guy that is a Christian but when he was younger he studied the bible inside and out and by the sounds of it he was forced to. He now says that he doesn’t want to see a Bible again. He also stopped going to church as he found it boring. I have been going to church since I was very young and unfortunately we had to stop due to things going on inside the church that we did not agree with. And yet I still find that he has a better Godly character than me. I think that he has made this rash decision a out the Bible as he has had a bad experience with it. I am praying for him because I know that I cannot change him. But would like some advice on this subject please.

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Jess,

      A follower of Jesus (Christian) loves Jesus. They know they are sinners in need of a Savior. They’ve trusted in Jesus life, death, and resurrection and have by faith become children of God. So they are growing in their love and desire for God, for His Word, and for His people. It’s easy to say one is a “Christian”, but the evidence of faith is seen through a life lived by following Jesus and His ways.

      Your friend’s choices are cause for concern, Jess. Yes, you should pray for him, but be careful not to rationalize the reality of where he’s at in order to justify a relationship with him.

      God’s ways are often not our ways, Jess. But God’s ways are always, always, always best. Praying you’ll trust Him in these decisions.

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie

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  • Britt

    I think I had came across a few red flags. I take the blame for this relationship on my end for not listening to the Holy Spirit. When we were friends, hanging out and getting to know each other, the way he talked threw me off. That was a turn off to me. And its hard for me to articulate that.
    When he asked me if I wanted to be more than friends, my mistake was saying “yes”. My gut feeling said “no, you need to wait” And I can’t remember if this was after or before we started dating, that not long after he asked “is it too early to say I love you?” and my being too nice self said “no”.
    I felt like he had trust issues. He would think I would always be on the phone with someone if I didn’t answer his call. Or “I seen that you’re online on Facebook/Instagram and you couldn’t pick up the phone or text back.” You don’t make a big deal about things like that if you trust someone. I also felt like he wasn’t being honest about him having trust issues. I felt like he wasn’t being honest about some things.
    One night, he seriously got upset and threatened to break up with me, just because I didn’t let him know I was in the house safe.
    When I got to know him more, I became seriously annoyed and irritated with him. To the point I mentioned for us to take a break and he didn’t want to do that. He got upset. My mental health at the time was downhill.
    He’s a Christian and a full on believer in Christ.
    I know this is something I need to pray about. I want to be with him and then I don’t. What do you do when everything seemed great and not it’s not? We had everything planned out!! You ever planned something out and you knew “this is it!”. Thats how it was. Everything was planned from our education, when he’ll propose, the wedding, who was gonna be in it, the colors, where we’ll live, was gonna have a savings account before it all, our 2 kids names if we were to have them.. everything was planned!! and it sounded right and felt right without a doubt but now we’re broken up and I’m hurt and I know he’s hurt. He broke up with me. I’m 3 years older than him so I can’t exactly expect him to be who I want him to be. I have to let him grow and mature more and I wasn’t patient enough.
    Bottom line is I’ve learned so much with this relationship that I’m willing to make some much needed changes in my life. I won’t say it was all him because it wasn’t. So at this point, I’m trying to not think about him and what he’s doing or what he’s thinking. Maybe he’s the one or maybe he isn’t. I think there might be someone better for me and I get excited about it and then I think about him and I’m hurt all over again. Like I said I want to be with him and then I don’t. Personally, I look past our current situation and hope for the future.

    • Sarah @ Revive Our Hearts

      Britt…we are proud of you for doing the right thing even though it is so hard. Yes, there are red flags written all over the relationship with this guy. Keep yourself pure and strong, and don’t go for the trouble ahead if you stay in this relationship. So glad you have learned from it. Wait for God’s best for you.

  • Tricia Toni

    Hey,i agree that habitual sins are a major red flag.Does it mean that people who are addicted to somekind of sin ,don’t deserve to be in loving relationships https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/76a1bbb8aac9a092c3f42038315f5c3c3eb95a43b21d26250eb8c512f3ba6df3.jpg

    • That is not what Bethany is saying at all. If you see habitual sins in the life of someone you care for, you can help them to find the help they need to overcome these sins and learn to handle the stressors in their lives in a healthier way. The sins of addiction will not go away after marriage. And marriage can sometimes increase the stressors that are leading to the sins/addictions they are battling.

      Stepping back, moving forward slowly and getting help through wise counsel is a good plan for any relationship that has addictions and/or unrepentant sin involved.

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