In the complex landscape of relationships, recognizing and addressing relationship red flags is crucial for long-term success.

As a Seattle practice specializing in couples therapy (among other things), our team has witnessed up close the impact of various challenges on relationships. From our work with these couples in crisis—and even with those who are just looking to improve their relationship—it's clear that maintaining a healthy connection requires careful navigation. 

Red Flags in Relationships

In this blog, we'll explore 10 relationship dealbreakers and the red flags that often signal underlying issues and discuss the practical aspects of addressing them. We'll also discover how attending couples counseling in Seattle can contribute to maintaining robust, thriving relationships.

Lack of communication

Honest and open dialogue, free from judgment, allows couples to connect on a deeper level, although this can be a difficult standard to keep. Communication breakdowns can manifest in various ways, and recognizing the signs is crucial for addressing issues early on.

1. Frequent Misunderstandings

If you find yourselves often misinterpreting each other's intentions or feelings, it may indicate a breakdown in communication.

2. Unresolved Disagreements

When conflicts linger without resolution or seem to resurface repeatedly, it suggests that communication channels may not be effectively addressing underlying issues.

3. Emotional Distance

A noticeable emotional distance or a feeling of disconnect may indicate unexpressed concerns or a hesitancy to share thoughts and feelings openly

Trust issues 

Trust issues are another common theme in relationship conflict. After all, trusting another person to love, respect, and care for you is a vulnerable process. If either partner has unresolved trauma or baggage they’re carrying from past relationships (romantic or otherwise), these negative experiences can spill over to impact your current relationships.

4. Secrecy and Withholding Information

If either partner begins to keep things hidden or avoids sharing important aspects of their life, trust may be compromised.

5. Consistent Doubt or Suspicion

Frequent questioning of each other's motives or actions may indicate a lack of confidence in the relationship.

6. Betrayal or Infidelity

Clear signs of betrayal, such as infidelity, signify a severe breach of trust that requires immediate attention.

7. Controlling or Manipulating Behavior

Controlling, manipulating, ignoring physical and emotional boundaries, and disregarding the need for personal space or time are all examples of unhealthy behaviors that can erode the foundation of a healthy relationship.


Successful and happy relationships require a lot of give and take and compromise. However, some issues can be very difficult to compromise on and could result in a compatibility mismatch.

Incompatibility isn't always a dealbreaker but recognizing these relationship hot spots is helpful information to pay attention to, as is both partner’s ability to communicate their differing points of view. Beyond a desire to share surface-level similarities, true compatibility involves the couple’s ability to navigate differences and find common ground.

8. Value Misalignment

Fundamental differences in core values, such as beliefs about family, money, religion, or life goals, may pose significant challenges.

9. Communication Style Differences

Communication is about talking and listening. Learning to communicate our needs, wants and feelings can make addressing them less intimidating and more effective. If communication styles consistently clash, it can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. 

10. Neglected Emotional Needs

When one or both partners feel consistently unfulfilled emotionally, it may suggest a misalignment of emotional needs. This includes a one-sided effort in maintaining the relationship, leaving one partner feeling drained, unfulfilled, and questioning the commitment of the other.

Physical or Sexual Abuse: A Non-Negotiable Deal Breaker

In the intricate web of relationships, one aspect stands tall as an unequivocal deal breaker—physical or sexual abuse. Unlike the nuanced complexities of communication issues, trust struggles, or compatibility mismatches, abuse serves as a stark line in the sand, demanding immediate attention and action.

Physical or sexual abuse not only breaches the boundaries of respect and trust but also shatters the very foundation of emotional well-being within a relationship. It is a non-negotiable violation that strikes at the core of the emotional functioning of any partnership. Recognizing these warning signs and prioritizing one's safety and emotional well-being is not only justified but essential for building a life with a partner founded on respect, trust, and genuine love.

Support is available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 800-799-7233

Hours: 24/7. Languages: English, Spanish, and more.

Why Bother Identifying Relationship Red Flags?

Relationships require compromise and communication to succeed. To that aim, identifying your personal deal breakers can help you have more success in your relationships and create authentic and fulfilling connections. While these relationship deal breakers can vary in severity and in their importance to you personally, this list can prompt important discussions to have with a partner to determine if they are a good match for you. 

Couples Counseling in Seattle: A Resource for Relationship Growth

Creating a safe space for honest conversations is essential when addressing dealbreakers and determining the longevity of your relationship. Couples counseling in Seattle offers a neutral third-party perspective, providing valuable insights and strategies for overcoming challenges such as these, as well as teaching skills that contribute to a relationship’s healthy foundation. 

Beginning couples counseling can help you better connect to your partner and strengthen your bond. Learn more about how emotionally focused couples therapy with a Seattle therapist from Thrive for The People can help you address the identified deal breakers in your relationships and deepen the bond with your significant other.