How to Identify Social Media Red Flags in Relationships: Silent Red Flags to Look Out For Table of Contents: What Are Red Flags in Relationships? Social Media Red Flags in Relationships - Red Flag Examples How to Deal with Red Flags in a Relationship Red Flag Dating FAQs Red flags are signs that let you know that something is off. Some are subtle, some are blindingly obvious, and they exist in every aspect of our lives. In particular, excessive jealousy, controlling behavior, and secrecy are all red flags to look for in a relationship. Social media can be a breeding ground for potential signs that a relationship is on the rocks. Read on as we look at some of the most common social media red flags for relationships and what you should do if you spot them. What Are Red Flags in Relationships? A red flag lets you know that everything is not as it should be. It’s usually something that might seem inconsequential now, but it’s a symptom of a bigger problem that will eventually raise its ugly head. Red flags of an unhealthy relationship include excessive jealousy—like your partner constantly checking to see where you are or how often you check your phone—refusal to talk about issues and shutting down conversations, controlling behavior—like not allowing you to dress as you wish—and, of course, gaslighting or psychological manipulation. These can all be signs that someone isn’t being honest or that they are incapable of having a healthy relationship at this time. Social media is one place where we have a tendency to show our red flags. This is because online interactions create the “online disinhibition effect,” which makes it more likely for us to say things we would be wary of saying in person. Social Media Red Flags in Relationships - Red Flag Examples Social media can reveal red flags not to ignore when you are dating someone new and signs that there is trouble in a relationship. Below is our list of the top 10 dating red flags that should send you running. 1. Acting single on social media If your partner or girlfriend or boyfriend acts single on social networks, this is a major red flag. If they want to appear available, it’s usually a sign they’re keeping their options open and are interested in meeting new people. A refusal to acknowledge you on social media could also be a sign of serious commitment issues. Of course, some people just like to keep their lives to themselves and prefer not to post their new relationship all over social media. The measure shouldn’t just be whether or not they post photos with you, mention you, and add your friends. But if this is the case, their account will probably go a little dark as they are busy enjoying themselves and not posting. If their social media posts are limited to work and occasional reposts of things they’ve been tagged in, that’s likely just their style and nothing to be concerned about. But if they actively hide you on social media while constantly posting selfies and updates, this is probably a red flag. 2. Making flirty comments on posts If you catch your partner posting flirty comments, this can be a major social media red flag for a relationship. It may mean they’re interested in flirting with other people and feel uninhibited enough to do it on social media. Even if they don’t do anything more than flirt, it’s still a sign about where their head is. You may have also heard a friend complain that “a girl likes everything my boyfriend posts.” While this could be completely one-sided, you should look at how they respond. Are they actively replying and liking their posts as well? This could be a red flag. If your significant other spends a lot of time liking posts that you consider inappropriate, this again could be a sign that they are not completely “in” the relationship. 3. Being too private or having secret accounts Everyone is entitled to their privacy, and it is completely normal if your partner doesn’t want to share their passwords with you or doesn’t really like it when you look over their shoulder while they’re scrolling. These can both be seen as an invasion of privacy—but privacy has its limits. If your partner doesn’t follow you on social media, blocks you from seeing some of their posts or even their entire account, or, worse, you find out they have secret accounts, these are all signs they have something to hide. 4. Adding lots of new connections, especially late at night One of the major social media red flags in men is if he keeps adding female friends on Facebook. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all female friends—rather acquaintances. These are usually people that he doesn’t know well, and this will often be done late at night. This is a sign that he’s spending the evening scrolling for women that he finds interesting enough to connect with. Adding the occasional new friend should not raise any eyebrows. We meet people all the time and making a Facebook connection is often one of the next logical steps, even with very casual acquaintances. It’s also not unusual to receive requests from old friends. But when this becomes a pattern, it could signal a larger problem. 5. Revisiting the same profiles Another common complaint is that “my boyfriend keeps looking at the same girl on Instagram.” Whether this is a red flag or not depends on the circumstances. If this person posts content about things they’re interested in, then it might be no surprise that someone with similar interests is drawn to their profile. However, if the person they’re following tends to post photos of themself or is someone your partner knows personally, this could indicate they’re showing interest for another reason. Instagram allows us all to browse the market and fantasize. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that on occasion, but if it’s a regular occurrence, then this is a major Instagram red flag. 6. Obsessing over your social media One of the most common red flags in women on social media is that they pay too much attention to your accounts. Do they like all your posts seconds after you publish them? Do they seem to know everyone who has liked your content? Do they follow your friends and know what they’re up to even before you do? These can all be major red flags for jealousy and insecurity. On the flip side, men are more likely to complain about what their partner posts, perhaps saying that photos are too sexy or revealing. Sometimes a request not to post certain pictures is reasonable, but sometimes your partner’s vision of what’s appropriate and what’s not is far too narrow. This tends to be a sign of controlling behavior. 7. Showing too much PDA on social media While you don’t want to be invisible on your partner’s social media, things can go too far the other way as well. If they become obsessed about showing off your perfect lives, this can be a major red flag in a relationship. In fact, this can be an indicator of a variety of issues. First, that your partner is too concerned with what other people think and may let this guide their own thinking and decision making. Second, that they are in the relationship for the wrong reasons, and it’s all about prestige and appearances. The third, and potentially most troubling, is that they’re trying to cover up issues by showing on social media how happy you both are together. This can be a way of avoiding genuine problems and trying to make them disappear magically. This could be a significant silent red flag in a relationship. 8. Posting attention-seeking behavior At its best, social media lets you stay connected with friends and share your passions with people around the world who share your interests. But at its worst, it can lead to an obsession with gaining external approval from others through likes, comments, and attention. If your partner is obsessed with their social media statistics, posts selfies several times a day in the hope of getting a response, or goes to extremes to create videos that are likely to draw attention, this is a box of red flags. These are all signs of insecurity, low self-esteem, and a fragile ego that are likely to manifest in other unhealthy relationship behaviors, like excessive jealousy or flirting with other people. 9. Spending excessive time using social media Another sign that should be on your dating red flag checklist is if your partner uses social media too much. Social media really is like the Matrix; it’s an artificial world that looks a lot like the real one but isn’t. It’s heavily curated to allow people to show off only what they want to. Excessive social media use has been proven to cause dissatisfaction, depression, and unhappiness, all of which could spill over from the digital world into your life. It could also be a sign that someone isn’t happy in the real world and that they’re looking for an escape. 10. Trashing their ex online Maybe you don’t like your partner’s ex very much, but you should be concerned if they’re trashing their own ex online. Don’t for a second think that they won’t do the same to you if the two of you eventually break up. Plus, far from being a sign they are over their ex, this can indicate that they are still very much concerned with that person and want them to feel miserable without them. More broadly, it’s an unhealthy approach to rejection and conflict. How to Deal with Red Flags in a Relationship How should you address red flags in a relationship if they come up on social media? Many people are reluctant to bring them up at all. The response might be “social media isn’t real” or “you’re just overreacting.” But is that true? Social media is a microcosm of the real world, and how your partner behaves there matters. Of course, it’s not recommended to use social media as a “hunting ground” for dating red flags. If you are actively looking, your mind can often create what you think you will find by reading too much into innocent situations. In general, you should trust your partner and give them the benefit of the doubt. But if you notice something on social that gives you a bad feeling in your gut, don’t ignore these red flags and write them off as “just” social media. Dealing with social media red flags is the same as dealing with any relationship red flags, but it depends on where you are in the relationship. They could represent things that you and your partner can work on together—or they could be deal breakers. Unless it’s an obvious deal breaker, you should talk to your partner, as trying to read someone’s mind almost always leads to misunderstanding. You should tell them what they’re specifically doing that’s worrying you, express how it makes you feel, and suggest how you would like to see things change. For example, you could tell them that the fact that they never include you in their social media posts, despite the fact that you have been seeing each other for a while, makes you feel hurt and that the relationship is not important to them. Ideally, you would like to discuss where you are in your relationship. It’s clear here that the social media red flag relates to the relationship—not just social media—and that the two of you need to define your relationship. As part of that, you can talk about what you expect and what you are comfortable with sharing on social media. A red flag exposed by social media will rarely be limited to social media. Maybe they didn’t realize that the flirty comments they regularly leave on a friend’s posts—and have for years—would upset you. They might explain the inside joke to help you understand, while also agreeing to tone it down. But usually, the conversation needs to go deeper into the relationship itself. If, when you raise the topic, your partner suggests it’s just social media and that you’re overreacting, you should take this as another red flag of an unhealthy relationship. This is classic avoidance and gaslighting, which is a problem both on and off social media. Are There Positive Effects of Social Media on Relationships? While this article has focused on the red flags on social media for relationships, social media can also have a positive impact on partnerships. It can be a great way to stay in touch when you are apart, without being tied up in long phone conversations or coming up with creative text messages. A quick picture or a meme that shows the other person that you’re thinking of them can keep you feeling connected. Social media also lets you connect with your partner’s friends and family more quickly than you might otherwise, especially if they live far away. If you’re ready to take the relationship to that level, it can be a great way to build intimacy across your social circles. And don’t forget—social media is one of the best ways to create a time capsule of all the good things that have happened to you as a couple. Red Flag Dating FAQs Is social media toxic for relationships? Social media has been proven to often be a bad influence on our mental health. Since it’s curated to show us the best of people’s lives, it leaves us with unrealistic expectations and potentially feeling dissatisfied with our own lives. It can also feed jealousy and trust issues as we can pore over our partner’s connections and activities. Generally speaking, people in healthy relationships will have a healthy approach to social media. Problems on social media should be seen as symptoms of larger problems offline. How to trust your boyfriend on social media? As with most things in relationships, trusting your partner is about openness and compromise. You need to have a discussion with them and agree between the two of you what you consider acceptable behavior on social media, just as you may have discussed acceptable behavior if they travel without you. You both set your expectations, know what those are, and know that there will be consequences if they are breached. Beyond that, give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Snooping around on their social media accounts and monitoring their activity too closely will just create new problems. Choose to trust and don’t look for problems, but don’t ignore them if they do emerge. My boyfriend follows his ex on Instagram. Should I be worried? Not all breakups are unfriendly, and while many people choose to unfollow their ex to get some distance, this isn’t necessary for everyone. If they still want to maintain a friendship or keep in touch, social media can be a great way to do this. The occasional like or comment can relieve the need for phone calls or personal messages. But you should be more concerned if they follow their ex excessively or talk about how they hate them but still obsess about what they are up to via social media. These are generally fed flags that they aren’t truly over them yet.