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Recognising ‘red flags’ in relationships: a Catholic perspective

By Daniel Francis

In the intricacies of love and relationships, we often find ourselves traversing a complex terrain filled with emotions, desires, and dreams. It’s a journey replete with highs and lows, but it can also be treacherous if we disregard the warning signs – the red flags.

I remember a past relationship where I encountered numerous red flags, both big and small. Sadly, I chose to overlook them, believing that love could overcome all obstacles, even the most glaring warnings.

She bore deep-seated traumas, and these manifested as destructive behaviour – she’d lash out over minor issues, struggle with emotional regulation, and make decisions that often disregarded our relationship’s well-being.

Regrettably, my reluctance to confront these red flags head-on proved detrimental.

Red flags, simply put, are behaviours or signals that indicate toxic or troubling tendencies in a person or situation. For Catholics, recognising red flags takes on even more significance, as we’re called to love, understand, empathise, and, when necessary, muster the resolve to separate from those not in accordance with God’s teachings.

Today, discussions about red flags are ubiquitous. They fill our conversations, social media, and collective concerns. Yet, amid this ongoing dialogue, countless individuals remain ensnared in precarious situations despite the glaring warning signs.

The question emerges: Why do we, as a society, persist in ignoring these red flags, fully aware of their potential consequences?

Awareness alone isn’t enough. It’s our lack of resolve, our reluctance to confront these issues directly, and our inclination to romanticise a relationship’s potential if these red flags were miraculously resolved that often leads to our downfall. Instead of settling for less than we deserve, we must find the strength to address these warning signs head-on but also have the unwavering resolve to exit the relationship if positive change isn’t forthcoming.

While red flags are most commonly associated with romantic relationships, they’re not limited to this sphere. We encounter them in various facets of life, from friendships to workplace dynamics.

Red flags can manifest as behaviour that distances us from our faith or as signs of deep-seated, unaddressed trauma. The key is to remain vigilant and discerning in all our interactions.


Types of red flags

Red flags come in various forms, but two categories stand out:

When the person is not of God: Some red flags manifest as behaviours that lead us down sinful paths, with the individual often refusing to acknowledge the need for change. These actions may not only harm us but also draw us away from our faith.

Unresolved trauma: Another type of red flag is often rooted in personal trauma. Individuals grappling with deep-seated trauma may exhibit reckless, negative, or illogical behaviour, stemming from unaddressed pain and suffering.

Our journey in addressing red flags calls for reflection and guidance. The Bible offers wisdom that we can apply to discern these signs, such as 2 Timothy 3:1–5, which warns of perilous times and behaviours that contradict our faith’s teachings.

Identifying red flags is merely the first step. We must also possess the emotional maturity to communicate our concerns gently and effectively to our partner. This communication should convey our genuine care and willingness to support them through the process of change.

However, if there’s no indication that change will occur or if attempts at change prove futile, we must find the strength to part ways for our own well-being.

Not all of us possess the innate ability to discern red flags. In such cases, we can turn to prayer and biblical study for guidance. Listening to what God tells us about an individual, comparing their actions to our faith’s principles, and heeding any unsettling feelings we may experience can provide clarity.

The prevalence of red flags in relationships and life can be attributed to several factors. Mental health issues, lack of awareness, and a drifting away from God’s teachings all contribute to this pervasive issue.

It’s a sobering reminder of the importance of our faith in guiding us through life’s challenges.

The prevalence of red flags in our lives underscores the vital importance of open and effective communication in our relationships. We must remain vigilant, recognising these signs for what they are, and possess the courage and resolve to address them.

If we are to build relationships that reflect the love and teachings of Christ, it begins with acknowledging the red flags and responding with wisdom, love, and faith.


Daniel Francis is a millennial helping other millennials. He is a two-time author of the books The Millennial Mind and The Millennial Experience, and an entrepreneur. Over the past four years, he has served as a Personal Development Coach whose work targets Millennials and helps them tap into their full potential.

He is also a Self-publishing coach and has guided hundreds on self-publishing their book successfully.

IG: rebitlimited

LinkedIn: Daniel Francis