9 Relationship Red Flags For Everybody.

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The Love Birds

Relationships and love can be difficult.

Learning the boundaries of oneself and how to remain centered when in the presence of a loved one is a learning curve. Nobody can be an expert at first, and so it is natural to look to sources of knowledge and others to assist in speeding up the learning curve.

It is my opinion that internet psychology and relationship advice can be exceptionally detrimental, if not outright destructive to the most important aspect of relating…and that is love.

Here are some things we should all consider before jumping in.

1. The Laundry Lists of what to look for or avoid in relationship.

Self-knowledge and healthy boundaries are natural and wise. Yet, when I see somebody running around with a checklist in their head of what makes the perfect partner, and what has to be avoided at all costs, I am seeing a person who operates from their mind and not with their heart.

Love remains an expression of heart, soul and spirit; not the mind.

Relying on lists is an epic-fail; believe in your intuition and experience.

Laundry lists of relationship dos-and-donts create expectations, demands and perceptions that can be misguided. If your love leaves clothes on the floor, it doesn’t mean they are a slob or wouldn’t grow out of it. If a woman expects a man to never walk out of an argument, that creates unnecessary pressure and makes a man wrong if he does.

Lists of relationships do and don’t present stories which may be false, and rather than relating at the core level of heart-to-heart, can keep things at a surface level. It also denies the possibilities of surprise and adventure that love can bring ; lists can create a rigid structure that, once built, can create impossible expectations and scenarios that no human can live up to.

Lists also have the possibility of over-generalizing relationships and love, and deny the opportunity for the soul to express itself in unique ways, or to grow.

2. Relating because of attraction, likes and common interests.

Love is more than a series of likes and dislikes, attraction and interests.

If attraction is based on what you like or dislike about the person, it is a setup for failure. Likes and dislikes change over time, and remain at the surface level of human expression. Common interests change, appearances change, language change.

Initial attraction may be nice, yet the qualities that cause a relationship to endure are far deeper.

The only constant is change.

So be sure to know the core personality traits that sustain and nurture you, identify what you really want in a relationship, and then live it and find those traits in another.

3. Surface level relationships rather than depth.

Qualities that cause relationships to endure are ineffable and take time to discover and see in oneself and others.

Impatient passionate love can never endure, though it may transform into a life-long romance if both partners learn to calm down and truly see one another with eyes of authenticity.

So many people share that they want enduring, loving, and even life-long relationships. This doesn’t happen over night—it takes time, and a willingness to go past oneself.

The core qualities that allow this are loyalty, faithfulness, respect, listening, speaking authentically, and patience.

Those sustain and nurture real love.

So when I see a person relating with others based on fashion trends, or merely common interests, I have to wonder about their depth of character.

4. Toxic language and lack of sensitivity.

By toxic language, I don’t mean cussing—coarse language is far different than toxic communication.

A person who complains, puts others down, demeans and humiliates people, especially their family and parents, has unresolved issues that will awaken with intimacy. Most challenges in relationship start because of language, and unloving words communicate an unloving spirit.

5. Judgmental and overly critical.

Somebody who is judgmental and overly critical about anything will eventually become judgmental and critical about you.

The assumption that the relationship will be this way or that denies it the opportunity to be its fullest and most natural expression. And when the relationship hits eventual speed bumps, judgments about how the relationship should be and isn’t will become the target of criticism.

6. Lack of humor.

Humor and the ability to take serious things with gracious spaciousness enables all involved to remain relaxed and grow through the most turbulent scenarios in life.

If the ability to take things with light-heartedness is not available, everything will become heavy and life becomes misery.

7. Inability to take personal responsibility.

The person who blames everybody else, the world, or their ex’s for the hurts and tribulations in life will eventually target their partner for all their woes.

8. Avoids the shadow-side of life.

Death, grief, accidents, and tragedies happen in life. It’s nice to believe life is always a bed of roses, yet it isn’t. If a person doesn’t have the ability to handle the darkness and pain of being alive, they may not be able to endure in relationship. And if something happens to you, they may abandon you in the time of greatest need.

9. Emotional Immaturity.

Maturity is not about age, it’s about willingness and intention.

In so many of the red-flag lists, a great deal of what is listed are the traits of immature individuals.

Surface level, so much can change for a person when they are committed, loyal and loving.

And love happens at any age. Just because that person doesn’t know how to process emotions and may need space, does not mean that they cannot and are unwilling to learn how. Youthful traits change as a person grows in wisdom and age—but to pressure somebody into conforming and changing to suit personal needs is also immature.

And again, internet laundry lists can create an air of perceived faults and expectations that focus on surface level traits rather than appreciating the deeper qualities of soul and spirit.

Entering a relationship with preconceived notions about what is wanted or not wanted denies the spirit and flow of energy and love; that is an often overlooked aspect of immaturity.

The possibility and transformation that real love gives is inaccessible when a wall of demands is present. The pre-judgment that happens when a heart has been hurt can be the most detrimental and self-sabotaging personality trait possible.

The beginners mind, everyday, allows love to blossom.

Time, patience, and wisdom in understanding human experience allows relationships to blossom. And like seasons, all relationships have cycles.

Sooner or later, the lists are set aside and love becomes the focus.

When that happens, the wish becomes true.



Bonus! One more red flag, Buddhist style:


18 Relationship Red Flags Every Woman Should Know. Plus, a Video.

Learning from Good, Bad & Ugly Relationships.

Waylon with Lodro Rinzler: Buddhist wisdom on Relationships—Sex, Online Dating, Porn, & Potatoes.

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About Keith Artisan

Keith Artisan believes each human is innately good and imbued with talent. Believing that life is a mystery, he feels it is his life purpose to inspire people to believe in themselves and live their truth. Living what he believes, Keith actively serves his community as an entrepreneur, artist, yoga instructor, musician, writer, and mentor. He is online at Facebook and his website, Living Artisan .


26 Responses to “9 Relationship Red Flags For Everybody.”

  1. kimberlylowriter says:

    I agree with all of these. Well done!

  2. Dani says:

    Of course, the glaring irony here is the author who states, "relying on lists is an epic-fail; believe in your intuition and experience," within his list of "things we should all consider before jumping in."

    The article is laden with other ironies and contradictions (e.g. judgment), and while I'm sure his intentions are in the right place (and while I even agree with many of his assertions), this would be a much more convincing piece if the author had developed and organized his ideas into a final draft that didn't contradict itself.

    I've been noticing a lot of advice articles and blog posts lately from people who purport to having some kind of enlightenment. Yet in the process of dispensing advice, the authors seem oblivious to how they personally may or may not exemplify said advice. Leading through actions, combined with a healthily slice of humble pie, is a lot more convincing than a prescriptive outline of words–even when those words happen to appear on Elephant Journal.

    • LivingArtisan says:

      The glaring irony is why I put that first, the double-standard is pretty evident in my opinion. 🙂 Speaking as myself, I do run around with a list that goes along the lines of ; committed, loyal, faithful, loving, devoted …

      I wrote this piece as a reaction to all the red-list flags about what to avoid in men and what seems to be a consistency in male-bashing and avoiding men who have certain tendencies.

    • LivingArtisan says:

      In addition, did you read the part about 'listen to your intuition and personal experience.' ? Or did you simply read the subject, and start typing because you've red all kinds of other stuff by other people and didn't take the time here ?

      In essence, I completely agree with you … yet let me outline some salient points :

      "And again, internet laundry lists can create an air of perceived faults and expectations that focus on surface level traits rather than appreciating the deeper qualities of soul and spirit."

      "Lists also have the possibility of over-generalizing relationships and love, and deny the opportunity for the soul to express itself in unique ways, or to grow."

      "Relying on lists is an epic-fail; believe in your intuition and experience.

      Laundry lists of relationship dos-and-donts create expectations, demands and perceptions that can be misguided. If your love leaves clothes on the floor, it doesn’t mean they are a slob or wouldn’t grow out of it. If a woman expects a man to never walk out of an argument, that creates unnecessary pressure and makes a man wrong if he does."

      • Jade says:

        I read the whole article, but I do agree with Dani that there are other contradictions or redundancies aside from the "list" factor. I just think a few points (#4-#9) are blanketed statements that can be applied to anyone who enters your life regardless of romantic potentials (even if many people do't realize that). I also think it's ironic that you would say in the first point that one should also operate from their heart and not just their minds, yet #2 states "Relating because of attraction, likes and common interests." True, a relationship needs more than just common interests to persevere (hell, more than love itself), but personally I find that common interests actually help strengthen my bond with another. It implies that we can both enjoy/appreciate the same moments in life that make us feel good. That's from the heart, right? When you love someone, you do want to be able to share some of those moments with them. Said common interests can also mean sharing similar goals, or even values in life, not just enjoying the same music album or food. I find that my most positive relationships had a good foundation of friendship. I've even managed to remain friends with a good handful. Friendships form over common interests, ideas, etc. so why not relationships? Anything can change over time, by the way, many factors outside a relationship can affect that. It's human nature.

        I will leave it at that. I'm not here to bash you. I just wanted to point out a few things that made me go "??" I appreciate your intent on writing the article. I, too, am tired of articles that cater to one gender while abusing the other. I am a female, and I'm all for women being heard, but through the uproars men are being silenced. It's an imbalance.
        Perhaps your article can be "cleaned up" so that your points are more consistent with each other? Anyways, have a good one 🙂

        • LivingArtisan says:

          Perhaps the context of that being a red flag isn't clear enough ? These are taken in context of things to look out for, not to look for.

          Still learning how to write and communicate to a world-wide audience.

    • Kristin says:

      Kudos to the writer of the article for tackling communicating different concepts, but as constructive criticism I agree with Dani, – a "flag" went up for me when I read the first paragraph about lists, which I agree with, then further down "Somebody who is judgmental and overly critical about anything will eventually become judgmental and critical about you." We all have a judgmental and critical aspect, some of us need to learn to temper it, some of us need to learn to use it a little bit for self protection.. Perhaps the author meant to say "everything" rather than "anything", for overly critical and judgmental people can be hard to live with, or "anything" meant every little thing. I liked the emotional immaturity point, we do seem to mature in relationships with willingness and intention, after a few instances of reverting to our 5 year old, which we do when we feel fearful or vulnerable, which happens more often with those we
      have to or choose to place our trust in, or as a result of recent wounds that may have not yet healed.

  3. Tina F says:

    Damn this is SPOT ON with the current ex – family fault & hate, criticized SOOO many people that I know & care for plus his own friends which eventually he started to criticize me & refer me to his ex ALL the time. He thinks he is far superior than everyone, yet deep down inside he is a lonely individual due to this. Choosing to point fingers all the time, being knit picky & immaturity with threats at 36yrs old. This article encompasses him ALL. Thank you for writing this & I WISH I had read this earlier!!! There were signs but this article would have made me really think about what potentially did end up happening. God Bless

  4. laurakutney says:

    Great article! Loved it.

    I'm so sorry that you also have to put up with people who clearly need to tell you how much more that they know than you do.

    I had a lady on FB tell me that I was "no Nora Jones and to quit pretending". Hmmm. . . I never sang a note. Clearly she needed to be blessed, so that it what I did.



    • kimberlylowriter says:

      Yup. As a blogger, we have all been here.

      FWIW, and I freely admit that I am biased as Keith is my friend in real life, I don't see this as a laundry list. Frankly, these should be red flags for anyone looking to ditch the drama and enter into a stable, mature relationship.

      However, some people just like to pick fights online.

  5. ana says:

    Good article! While I agree it isn't good to be so rigid in what you are looking for in a relationship that you miss out on a great one because that person is not what you pictured, lists can be a good thing. Lists grow out of experiences and knowing yourself and how you are in relationship and what you are looking for. They can be helpful for people who tend (like me) to make the same mistakes over and over again and can't always separate our intuition from our hormones. And while I agree love is more than a series of likes and dislikes, attraction and interests, it's usually those things that bring us to the person to begin with, then, if they are the right person, the loves grows into something deeper. I couldn't agree more with #5, negative people will eventually bring you down. If they don't appreciate life they won't appreciate you.

  6. Siobhan says:

    One of my most favourite Elephant posts to date. A beautiful enlightening read.

    A deep deep thank you to you Keith for articulating such an in-tune perspective <3

  7. Naomi Nelson says:

    I found this article generic, contradictory and unhelpful.

  8. Zac says:

    I…can't agree with everything on the list. I've seen relationships last for decades, and they raise 4 or more of the "red flags" this article mentions. Relationships are fluid, and can't be defined by a simple list of "anything on this list will break a relationship." There's no telling what will spark attraction, and hook two people together. Us humans are weird, unpredictable, and random.

  9. Stacy says:

    To me, it was obvious this article was written by a man. It really points at a lot of issues makes typically have with female partners, and does not so well cover the other side of the coin. For example, immaturity is not just being critical, but can also be when a partner is resistant to changing some behaviors that needed pointing out. We help one another grow by authentically revealing where improvements can be made and speaking our truth when something isn’t working. It’s not always just “being critical,” but can be the type of intimate honesty that helps our partner to grow. There’s a difference between nit-picking and challenging. I’ve had partners express gratitude for helping them see truths they previously couldn’t or we’re simply resistant to facing. The less mature, more defensive partners cut and run as soon as you imply there may be areas of improvement to explore. A mature person is always willing to consider his/her partner’s ideas, even if it’s uncomfortable. That’s all! Not bashing the article. Just seeing the male bias.

  10. Teagan says:

    Beautiful article. Beautifully written. Thank you!

  11. Granger says:

    I agree with much on this blog. Not this.

  12. Aleksandra says:

    Not for this woman! I am a very free spirit. I am a wanderer, explorer and lover of solitude and companionship alike. Do I have a laundry list? You bet I do. Because I would rather walk alone than to ever have someone clip my wings with expectations. My expectations? Simple. Be you and be free and let me do the same. Tough to find these days. So thankfully I have learned that the best relationship I could ever have is the one I have with myself and nature, in my kindness toward others, and the complete awareness that love is free flowing and I must never define it or cage it.

  13. CBardy says:

    While the list of traits of immature individuals can mostly be applied to both women and men, the author has chosen to make it all about the immature traits of men. Specific traits of immature women would help the men that are reading this article, which I have found fresh and productive…thank you.

  14. Aimee says:

    Excellent article. The one about not meeting family, friends is critical. Always be wary if this happens after they have met yours…there is definitely an underlying issue of some sort. It should always be reciprocal..a new love interest is something to be celebrated, not to be denied or kept hidden.

  15. Angel says:

    I really connected with this article especially the mention of 'surface level' and how many issues will arise during intimacy. This occurred during my last relationship. I have found having a list of specifics never works, but what does is always my intuition. Personally I enjoyed reading this article thank you

  16. Wary says:

    Some of us look for the “laundry lists” after meeting someone who pursues us, and we want to give him a chance, but there are things that worry us. After making some choices in the past based purely on love, that turned out very badly, I, at least, have realised that my judgement might be flawed, and would really like some guidance as to whether the things that concern me should be treated as red flags or not. Not having a degree in psychology, and being generally inclined to give the benefit of the doubt, I’m very afraid of allowing myself to fall in love, only to get my heart broken again. I’m not young anymore, so I would really like any relationship I get into now to at least have a good chance of going the distance!

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