At the beginning of a new relationship, it is not always easy or clear to tell if it has the potential to become an abusive relationship, especially in the very early stages. Relationship abuse and warning signs do not always show up right away. Many abusive people appear like ideal partners in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors tend to appear and increase as the relationship grows. It is important to check in with yourself when it comes to a potential or current partner and their intentions, especially if the attention you are receiving seems/feels too good to be true or is overwhelming. Relationships exist on a spectrum and there are warning signs that abuse might occur.

So, what are some yellow flags you should look out for?

One element shared by most abusive relationships is that the abusive partner tries to establish or gain power and control through many different methods, and at different moments. Very often, yellow flags take place before red flags, so it is important to recognize and respond to these early in the relationship.

Yellow Flags: Based on attempts to control the other person

  • Pressuring you into doing things you are not comfortable with
  • Talking bad about you in front of others
  • Wanting you to spend time with ONLY them
  • Becoming angry too quickly or unreasonably
  • Being verbally disrespectful towards you

While some actions mentioned above may seem normal and feel validating when it comes from your new partner, these can be early signs of future red flags in the relationship. Being called their “soulmate,” or even being told “I love you” in a matter of days/weeks can signal a larger problem, especially if it makes you feel anxious/uncomfortable.

Sometimes our relationships may move from yellow to red flags. A red flag is any behavior that attempts to gain power and control in a relationship. These are common red flags you should look out for:

Red Flags: Are an imbalance of power and control

  • Preventing you from making your own decisions, about working, or attending school
  • Showing extreme jealousy of your friends/family or time spent away from them
  • Insulting, humiliating, or shaming you, especially in front of other people
  • Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses
  • Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with
  • Damaging/destroying your belongings or your home
  • Threatening to harm or take away your children or pets
  • Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats

Even one or two of these behaviors in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be present.

Relationships look different for everyone and having a healthy relationship doesn’t mean that your relationship is perfect, but it DOES mean that abuse should never be a part of it. Most importantly trust your gut feeling! No one knows you better than yourself, if you feel that something is wrong, you are probably right.


  • Gemma Medina

    Gemma is a Squishmallow enthusiast who loves listening to podcasts in her spare time. Gemma works as a prevention educator at HCWC where she helps provide resources, advocacy, and awareness on healthy relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault to adolescents and the community. Gemma is a proud alum of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she received her bachelor’s in Rehabilitation services. She is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities, equality, and social change.