Red flags for marriage often wave high and proud but wearing rose-colored glasses can prevent you from seeing them.

Too often, men and women jump into relationships without fully understanding themselves first. This is especially true if you’re young. These are the things nobody teaches you throughout your schooling, and yet, it’s one of the most important life lessons to learn.

So you don’t know yourself. Things like:

  • Where do you want your career to take you?
  • Where do you want to live when you settle in?
  • What type of man is good for you?
  • What type of man are you attracted to (this isn’t always the same guy as the one above)?
  • Who are you?

These questions and more go unanswered, often because it seems too exhausting to find those answers and also because you learn some of the answers by just experiencing life. You try a few careers to see what you like. You go to college away from home and maybe take a job in a new city. And, you date different types of men.

But there is also the issue of loving and valuing yourself before you try to love and value someone else. Before you enter the dating world, regardless of your age, you must be confident and have high self-esteem and self-worth.

So here’s the first of our red flags for marriage – do you have high confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem?

Why Confidence Matters

Perhaps you’ve read some of the information on this site, or the sister site, Who Holds the Cards Now. If so, you know I almost always write about confidence, but do you know why?

Confidence is at the root of all successful relationships. When a confident man dates a confident woman, they immediately eliminate many of the issues often encountered in a relationship, like:

  • Jealousy
  • Neediness
  • The constant fear that your partner will leave you for someone better
  • Fear of putting forward your own needs, therefore having them unmet
  • Insecurity
  • Oversensitivity
  • Not being your authentic self
red flags for marriage

Red Flags for Marriage


People often overlook the importance of this one. It’s okay if you don’t belong to the same political parties or you root for opposing sports teams. If you can agree to disagree, you can keep those topics either off the table or for fun bantering only.

But what about other topics like whether you want children, where you’ll live, if you both like to travel, if you’ll attend church, and if so, which denomination? Again, it’s okay to differ on some things, like religion, but other things are too important.

Someone who wants kids should not marry someone who doesn’t. If someone doesn’t, they shouldn’t cave in and have children they don’t want. If you want to live in the country but your guy is a city boy, he’s not going to be happy in the country and you might not like the city.

Sometimes you can work things out. Have you ever tried to live in the city? Do you have experience with children and know you don’t want them or are your beliefs strictly based on a random statement someone made, like, “Kids are so expensive.”

When you know yourself, you have these answers or you’re at least open to exploring them. Not being able to agree on these issues creates red flags for marriage.

Passive Aggressive Behavior or Sarcasm

Sarcasm is one form of passive-aggressive behavior. Instead of outright saying what’s bothering someone, they indirectly express their feelings. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Your boyfriend agreed to go to a family picnic with you, even though he had plans to watch football with his friends. He says he’ll meet you there and while the picnic started at noon, he didn’t show up until 12:30. Since your mother insisted that everyone be there before they served food, he held up the entire picnic. Of course, you’d told him to be on time for this very reason, and yet he was late.

This is passive-aggressive behavior because it’s indirect and revengeful. He doesn’t want to be at the picnic, but he felt he should go or perhaps you coerced him into going. His way of getting back was to show up late and delay lunch for everyone.

Here’s another example.

You reached out to your boyfriend on Wednesday and asked him to call you back about making plans for your weekend trip. After not hearing from him, you tried calling again Thursday at lunchtime and sent a text later that evening. You planned to leave Friday after work, so you’re concerned.

Finally, late Friday evening, he sends a quick text stating he can’t go but doesn’t supply a reason.

This lack of response until after the trip was to begin is passive-aggressive behavior in the form of avoidance.

If your boyfriend is using any of these, or other tactics like:

  • Sarcasm
  • Subtle digs
  • The silent treatment
  • Weaponized kindness (being overly nice and then shooting a dig at someone who wasn’t)
  • Weaponized incompetence (pretending to be incompetent to avoid a task)

These are all examples of passive-aggressive behavior. He can’t express his feelings so he’s using this as his weapon.

Constant Bickering

Every couple experiences a disagreement from time to time. It’s part of being human. You won’t always agree, but when the argument seems to go on and on, with different undercurrents, you have red flags for marriage.

Waking up angry because of something that happened the night before, only to get angry again because he left the coffee cup in the sink instead of the dishwasher or because he forgot to put his socks in the laundry hamper isn’t productive.

The inability to calmly discuss problems is one of the red flags for marriage you can’t overlook. In a good relationship, you should be able to discuss things and come to some sort of resolution.

The key is to choose a moment when you’re both calm, not when you’re both upset about something. When you’re upset, emotions are too high to think rationally. But, when you wait until things calm down, you can use your rational mind to find the answer.

Living in a constant state of bickering means you can’t be honest with one another about much of anything. It could be from a lack of trust or a fear of an angry outburst. Whatever the reason, red flags for marriage are waving high!

Red Flags for Marriage | Your Relationship is On-Again, Off-Again

Couples who break up and get back together regularly are waving big red flags. The problem here is two-fold. First, you aren’t solving the problems before you get back together. You’re merely walking away from one another one day and hanging out together a few days later. Nobody bothered to work on the underlying issues.

The second part of the problem is that your relationship seems to thrive on drama instead of building intimacy together and initiating a stronger bond.

Just because you keep getting back together, it doesn’t mean you’re meant to be together. It simply means you’re too afraid to look at the issues and fearful you won’t find someone new.

If you think your relationship will be different when you get married, you’re wrong. The underlying problems are still there and red flags for marriage are waving left and right.

Sex has Fallen Off or is Non-Existent

Sex is a weapon many people use against their partners. When someone is angry, they’ll withhold sex as a way of sending a message. It’s a passive-aggressive behavior with devastating effects.

Sex isn’t intimacy. If it was, hookups would be intimate, and they aren’t. They’re all about sex. Still, sex is a way of showing your love for your partner, but when it’s used as a weapon or a tool to show displeasure, it can cause you to feel insecure and unloved.

This type of problem is a symptom of poor communication. There is an inability to communicate needs in a way that feels safe and comfortable. Too many times, one partner withholds sex to express anger or disappointment, instead of using words.

Then, instead of experiencing the positive, bond-building neurochemicals like oxytocin associated with sex, your body is releasing stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. Tension builds and things get even worse.

red flags for marriage

Poor Communication

At the root of almost every breakup is poor communication. Without great communication, you can’t have a great relationship. You can fool yourself into believing that everything will be okay anyway, but it won’t.

As you’ve already read about some of the red flags for marriage already mentioned, communication is at the root of everything good, and poor communication is often one of the causes of everything bad.

Just when it seems most important to share yourself with someone, you become distant and emotionally detached to protect yourself. While you may indeed be protecting your heart, the truth is that you’re preventing yourself from enjoying a wonderful relationship by allowing fear to creep in.

Another way in which poor communication shows up is too much communication. If someone has the time to text you 24/7, something is off. Why isn’t he working? Is that all he has to do – text you? While it might seem flattering, it’s another of the red flags for marriage.

The third way poor communication comes into play is inconsistency. He texts you one day then disappears for three or four days, then he’s back at it for a few days and ghosting you later. There are many reasons for this behavior, but none of them scream this guy is into you.

Anger Toward Past Partners

Red flags for marriage can show up in how someone feels about a past partner. If your guy has a lot of anger toward an ex, he’s not dealing with the issues. He’s still stuck in that relationship emotionally and won’t have much to offer you.

Even if his ex was a bad person, he needs to be able to let go of his negative feelings if he’s to enjoy a positive relationship with you or anyone else.

If he shows this anger toward multiple partners, denying his responsibility for how things played out, he’s likely to have a limited level of emotional awareness and his ability to project blame on you is just a hairsbreadth away.

Rather than own his feelings and responsibility, he passes them off as belonging to other people and blames others for all his missteps.

Red Flags for Marriage | Reassurance Seeking Behavior

“Are we okay?”

“Are you angry with me?”

“Why didn’t you respond to my last text?”

These are red flags for marriage, especially at the beginning of a relationship. This is reassurance-seeking behavior and signals a lack of confidence, neediness, and difficulty in managing feelings. These are anxiety-based statements.

If your boyfriend texts you but you’re in a class or meeting and can’t respond right away, a confident guy will move on and go through his day, but someone with less confidence will experience anxiety. His thoughts will turn to you not wanting to be with him anymore, you seeing someone else or other unvalidated ideas. It’s allowing a worst-case scenario to play out without any evidence.

Long-term relationships will have moments where reassurance is needed, but it’s temporary and easily put to rest. Constantly wanting to know that your relationship is okay or if you’re angry goes beyond normal assurance.

Lack of Respect for Boundaries

Boundaries are healthy and confident people use them to ensure others will treat them respectfully and allow them to hold to their values.

When someone disrespects your boundaries, they need to be booted from your life, regardless of who they are to you. Knowing someone respects your boundaries makes the relationship feel safe and allows you to let down your guard.

You should have boundaries in many areas of your life, but those boundaries are individual to you, so I can’t tell you what boundaries to set. If you don’t have any, think about times when you’ve felt like a doormat or disrespected. Those are the places to put boundaries.

Someone who crashes your boundaries doesn’t respect you. Period. Some examples of boundary crashing might include:

  • Continuing to ask about something you’ve already said was off-limits
  • Going through your things, your texts, emails, or social media accounts
  • Forcing you to change your mind about something, and where to go for pizza doesn’t count
  • Strongly encouraging or forcing you to change your body, friends, or workplace
  • Going beyond the sexual boundaries you’ve put in place
  • Forcing the relationship to go faster than you want
  • Not matching your effort in the relationship (you always drive to see him or you always pay for things)
  • Not accepting no as an answer, for anything
  • Putting tracking devices on your phone or car

These are not loving behaviors, they’re controlling and disrespectful. Someone who treats you this way doesn’t love you and these are big red flags for marriage!


As you read at the beginning of the article, jealousy is a sign of low confidence. Whenever you find yourself in a relationship with someone who has low confidence, you must ask two questions:

  • What attracts me to this person?
  • What is my level of confidence since I am attracted to him?

We tend to attract and spend time with people most like us, so if you’re attracting low-confidence men, you’re signaling your low confidence.

His driving by the ice cream parlor to see if you’re meeting your best friend there isn’t loving, it’s jealousy. Wanting to read your emails and texts isn’t him protecting you from something, it’s his way of making sure no other guy is sending you messages.

Ultimately, this behavior is a signal that he doesn’t think he’s good enough for you and he’s afraid that not only will you figure that out, but that you’ll find someone better, and he’s sure there is someone better.

Immaturity, Irresponsibility, and Unpredictability

These three traits signal someone who hasn’t quite finished growing up. I often describe men like this as not having completed the conveyor belt to manhood.

For one reason or another, a person who behaves like this hasn’t yet mastered some basic life skills like learning to take care of himself, learning to manage his finances, and having a sense of personal space. He often won’t have any great plans for his future either and either works below his skill level or doesn’t work at all, living off his parents or others.

All this takes a lot of time and energy that would otherwise go toward you and your relationship. Someone with unsettled finances will spend a lot of time and energy worrying about how to pay his phone bill or where his next meal is coming from. That leaves little emotional space for a relationship.

He also won’t be someone you can count on when you need him. The last thing you need is to become stranded by a flat tire, only to have your boyfriend unable to come because his car ran out of gas and he can’t fill the tank.

Even if he has his finances in order, if he’s unpredictable or unreliable, he might be displaying passive-aggressive tendencies and you already know those are red flags for marriage!

Red Flags for Marriage | Your Gut Tells You to Get Out

Your intuition is often right, and deep down you know this. To do this, take a few moments to clear your mind. Go somewhere quiet and breathe in and out until you feel relaxed. Then, take some time to listen to what your gut is saying.

If you’re still not sure, talk to a trusted friend. Don’t choose a friend who already doesn’t like your guy. If possible, talk to someone who doesn’t know your guy or doesn’t know him well. Of course, you need to listen to what they have to say, but ultimately you must make the choice.

Your gut might not be telling you what you want to hear and in that instant, you need to evaluate why you want to go against your intuition and whether it’s a good idea. Take some distance away from your guy for a couple of days, if possible, to get a clear picture of what’s going on.

red flags for marriage

You’re Truly Unhappy

A relationship might feel right at first, but somewhere along the way, and you aren’t even sure when, things started going downhill. Now you’re unhappy in the relationship and you don’t know what to do.

Well, I can tell you what not to do. Do not marry someone if you’re unhappy. You feel this way for a reason and until you figure out what that reason is, you should steer clear of a long-term commitment like marriage.

What I encourage you to think about is this – do not pursue a relationship when you’re happy just because you don’t want to be alone. If you make relationship decisions out of desperation, you’ll always make the wrong one.

Your Friends and Family are Saying Heck No!

Your friends and family want what’s best for you and they often see a situation more clearly than you do, especially if there’s something wrong in the relationship.

For years, Kara’s mother told her to get out of her marriage, but Kara and Mike had four children and Kara couldn’t imagine raising them by herself. Somewhere inside, Kara knew she wasn’t happy and there were days she wished Mike would come home and tell her he was moving out because he was having an affair. Kara’s mother continued to encourage her to get out of the marriage. She saw things in Mike that Kara ignored, like his volatile temper and his egocentric behavior.

One day, while Kara had their kids at the pediatrician, Mike decided to move out. Later that evening when the kids were asleep and Mike was gone, Kara realized that she felt as if an elephant had gotten off her back. Her mother was right. Mike was toxic.

When we fall in love with someone, we fail to see their flaws. It’s human nature, I think. It’s a way to protect yourself from feeling as if you’ve made a bad choice. That’s where friends and family can be a great asset. Assuming someone isn’t harboring negative feelings about him for some other reason, they’re often a better judge of your guy than you’ll ever be.

Red Flags for Marriage | There is No Trust

Like communication, trust is an essential part of any successful relationship. If you can’t trust the person you’re with, you don’t have much of a foundation.

Think about it this way. If you were to build a house, trust and communication would be the blocks upon which you build. However, if you used sand instead of block, your home would crumble very quickly.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who has a hard time being honest with himself, it will be tough for him to be honest with you. He might not be doing this maliciously, it might be a coping mechanism, but that still doesn’t mean you can build trust.

This guy might also be someone who doesn’t hold himself accountable for his actions. He lacks integrity and respect for you and that isn’t going to change, no matter what you do.

Without trust, regardless of the reason, you don’t have a relationship with a solid foundation. Lack of trust is one of the red flags of marriage.

He’s Controlling

A man who wants to control your every move has many issues that have nothing to do with you. This type of man will drive a wedge between you and everyone you trust. You’ll lose contact with close friends and family because they’re a threat to his control.

He may go so far as to control if and when you leave the home, where you work if he allows you to, and every other aspect of your life.

Ultimately, this man is jealous of all other relationships you have and feels threatened by those relationships. He wants to maintain control of you and he can’t if other people start telling you things he doesn’t want you to hear.

This is a form of emotional abuse, and you should never commit to a long-term relationship with a man like this. You may find it difficult to extricate yourself from the relationship, but there are organizations available to help you.

He Has a Dark or Secret Past

You don’t need to know everything about his past, but if he won’t share anything, it’s one of the red flags for marriage.

Additionally, if he has behaviors that are suspect, illegal activities, or addictive behaviors in his past or present, he’s not relationship material.

Of course, the exception to this is if he’s done the work to overcome those behaviors and has exhibited to you, over a long period, that he isn’t acting that way any longer. Everyone deserves a second chance if he’s trying to change.

Red Flags for Marriage | He’s Too Interested

Someone who throws himself into getting to know you too fast is signaling desperation and a desire to be in a relationship, any relationship, to make himself feel lovable.

Of course, a man will be interested in getting to know you, but men love the process of peeling back those layers. Great men want to learn about you over time, bit by bit, not all at once. This is what makes you mysterious and men love mystery.

Under normal circumstances, you get to know someone slowly, by spending time with them and doing things together. You talk and share little bits about yourselves over time.

This problem is very common in online dating. A man sends a wink or some other signal he’s interested and you reply in kind. The next thing you know, he’s in your inbox, peppering you with tons of questions about your personal life.

In this instance, before you write him off as a loser, give him a chance to redeem himself. Reply to his email and answer one of the less personal questions, then, in as much of a joking tone as you can give via email, send a signal that he asked way too many questions.

Gee Jim, it seems like you’re really interested in getting to know me better, but I prefer to take my time sharing things. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?

Then you can ask him a similar question that isn’t too personal. This also works in person. If you find yourself answering a lot of questions, stop and ask him something.

If he’s just overzealous, he’ll correct himself and back off, but if he ignores your implication that he’s getting too personal, move on.

He’s Unwilling to Compromise

Someone with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude isn’t good relationship material. All relationships need compromise. Without it, it’s more of a controlling situation than a mutually beneficial relationship.

In healthy relationships, couples discuss the important things like when to make a full commitment to one another, where to live, where to go on vacation, and later, whether you’ll have children and how many. You should decide together about new homes and other large purchases and, any moves that take your family out of the current city to another that’s hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Red Flags for Marriage

As you can see, there are many red flags for marriage, many more than you’d think, but each one is valid and worth considering.

If you want to build a happy relationship, you need to boost your confidence, if it’s currently low, and that will help you attract confident men. If you see yourself in any of the above red flags, it’s a signal that your confidence could use a little boost.

Only by being a confident woman will you attract a confident man and only when two confident individuals get together do you have happy, healthy relationships.

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