Having collected relationship red flag stories from thousands of women, we've read some pretty unbelievable accounts of men's not-so-nice (to put it lightly) behavior. We've also noticed somewhat of a pattern: Certain red flags—warning signs we define as indications that there might be an underlying issue in your relationship—kept appearing on our radar.
While the guys in question may differ, their terrible behavior is anything but original. Here are six common big red flags that you should be aware of. Keep these in the back of your mind as you navigate your romantic relationships and—trust us on this one—run from any guy who commits them.
1. He's not really your boyfriend.
Many of us have been there: kinda-sorta seeing a guy, hooking up with him consistently, but not really knowing where we stand … or lay. We've learned the hard way that just because you're sleeping with a guy, going out to dinner, receiving flowers from him on your birthday, and spending the night at his place every weekend, you're not "official" unless you've had "the talk." You Know You Might Be a Booty Call If...
The way we see it, if you're not sure whether or not you're a guy's girlfriend, you probably aren't. However, men only get away with non-committal behavior because we let them. Either we buy into the idea that the dude should always be the one to take the lead and initiate some kind of "what are we?" discussion or we're too chicken to ask. It's totally normal to fear rejection—sometimes not knowing is a lot more bearable than hearing "no." And, sure, by not bringing it up, you'll be able to stay in your whatever-this-is state longer. But, as any gal who's been in relationship purgatory can attest, the confusion can cause more anxiety than a missed period. If your bed buddy isn't man enough to define your relationship, even after you muster the courage to ask him directly what's really going one between you two, he deserves the boot.
2. He's inconsiderate.
Relationships consist of two people who've chosen to share their lives. When you enter into a partnership there's an expected level of consideration (and respect) for each other, like, for instance, calling when you say you're going to call or offering to pick your significant other from the airport. The sort of things you typically want to do for the person you care about.
We say typically because we know all to well that some guys are anything but caring to the women in their lives. For this red flag, pay attention to your man's small gestures—like if he stops at Jack 'n the Box for a milkshake on the way to your house but forgets to bring you a treat. Inconsiderate acts early on tend to escalate the more comfortable a man becomes with the situation, and pretty soon you'll be in a one-way relationship headed full speed for resentment.
3. He doesn't show up.
Just because something is important to you, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's important to your boyfriend. Still, he should support you in your endeavors, even if that entails sitting through your performance in The Vagina Monologues.
Not being there for one of your big moments is not just plain inconsiderate, it's a true indication of your man's feelings for you. If your guy bails on you the moment you need him most his take-you-or-leave-you behavior lets you know loud and clear you're not really that important to him. Part of the perk of having a long-time beau is knowing that he'll be there to share in your joy and accomplishments, as well as be there for you during a time of crisis. After all, if he's not going to have your back, why date him? Find someone who'll be as dedicated to you as you are to him. Do You Know How To Support Your Partner?
4. He constantly critiques you.
Whether he's trying to keep you from "embarrassing yourself" or he thinks he knows what's best for you, controlling men will find ways to critique you and your life – often under the guise of wanting to help you.
Maybe he'll make backhanded comments about your weight, or have the occasional demand that you change into something "more appropriate," either way, acts like these show that you man is less interested in you and more concerned with bending, breaking, and shaping you to look like the woman he believes he deserves. Perhaps he'll merely offer a suggestion, but say it with a slightly contemptuous tone, or teach you a new, "more efficient" way of doing something you've been doing every day for ten years (how you made it this far without him there to tell you how to wipe your own ass is a miracle).
5. He pressures you into doing sexual stuff you're not comfortable with.
Just because your boyfriend tries to convince you that the majority of women are fine with—even turned on by—certain acts between the sheets, that doesn't mean you're inferior or inadequate, or even prudish, if you don't want to do them. If you've told your boyfriend you aren't comfortable doing something in bed, he shouldn't want you to do it. End of story.
Many of us have likely experience men playing that "come-on-baby-do-it-for-me" card. As long as the request isn't too far outside your comfort zone, sure, you may be willing to try things that you're not particularly interested in to please your man. But when a guy's wants extend beyond what you're capable of rationalizing, and he demands you do them anyway, you need to get dressed and exit immediately before he forces you to do something that'll give you that dirty, creepy feeling because you only half consented.
6. He accuses you of being unfaithful.
We're not precisely sure what psychology lies behind this crackpot move, but loads of women have reported the phenomenon. One girl's boyfriend incessantly checked her phone for incriminating text messages, another's demanded she check in with him every thirty minutes if she wanted to go out with her girlfriends, and more than a few girl's boyfriends would go ballistic if they spied their ladies even talking to another guy.
All we know is that this red flag behavior is most likely classic projection: You guy is hoping you are cheating so he doesn't have to feel guilty, or he's become so obsessed with not getting caught that all he can think about is cheating. If your boyfriend is accusing you of being unfaithful, and you've done nothing to lead him to that conclusion, ten to one odds he's got some confessing to do. Why Do Men Cheat On Beautiful Women?
Have a red flag story of your own? Submit your story anonymously to BigRedFlags.com. For more relationships and dating advice, pick up your copy of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, available now wherever books are sold.