The Ultimate Red Flag: Your Partner’s Past

How can you know if your new partner isn't going to morph into a life-wrecking psycho without getting bogged down in counting red flags? 

Please don't focus on their current behavior with you. We're all saints in the honeymoon phase. 

The real gold is in their past.

The old wisdom goes, 'The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.' 

If their past is a horror show, their future won't be a fairy tale. 

Consider this analogy: If you're hiking down a snowy mountain, you won't anticipate an avalanche by looking forward; you must look back to see what's coming.

Spotting Red Flags in Your Partner's Past Thumbnail

Gotta look back!

So, here's what you gotta keep your eyes peeled for - but first, the short answer:

Short Answer

Watch for warning signs in your partner's history, like a trail of tumultuous relationships, commitment issues, and unresolved personal problems. These red flags, ranging from poor long-term friendships to issues like substance abuse and financial irresponsibility, can foreshadow future relationship troubles. Remember, past behaviors are often predictors of future actions, so it's vital to look beyond the honeymoon phase to avoid repeating their history of problematic relationships.

1. History of Unhealthy Relationships

As a dating coach, I review this one major red flag to my clients: a track record of disastrous relationships. If their ex-files read like a series of natural disasters, you've got to ask yourself—why would things be different with you? Don't be the next chapter in their saga of breakups. 

If they've got a history of cheating, that's a neon sign flashing 'Danger!' 

You're not a test drive. Let them sort out their issues with someone else's heart on the line.

2. Avoidance of Serious Commitment

Sure, they might have had decent relationships that ended for one reason or another. That's life. 

But if you spot a pattern of them cutting ties every few months or after a year, you've got to face the facts: You're likely next in line for the chopping block. 

This kind of commitment-phobia is a glaring red flag. It's like they've got a relationship expiration date set in their mind, and you are out when the time's up. 

Don't let yourself be another notch on their belt (pictured below) of short-lived romances.

Although it's unclear in the picture I took, the belt on the left is coming apart, while the belt on the right is still going strong. Find someone with plenty of healthy relationships notches left of their belt. 

3. Lack of Long-term Friendships

If your potential sweetheart doesn't have a history of long-term friendships with happy, well-adjusted individuals, it's a red flag. It's a telltale sign they struggle to maintain basic relationships.

4. Poor Family Relationships

Watch out if they have a history of poor family relationships, especially if they've experienced severe childhood trauma and haven't sought treatment over the years. This heavy baggage tends to spill over into romantic relationships, often in unhealthy ways.

5. Borderline Personality Disorder and other personality disorders

I’ve written about BPD many times:

  1. 23 BPD Dating Tips [& Relationship Advice] 
  2. 11 Reasons for BPD Violence, Abuse [Causes and Explanation
  3. BPD Marriage, Divorce & Parenthood Statistics

And one thing has stood out to me: if you find out that they’ve been diagnosed with BPD, you better keep your distance. The same goes for other severe mental disorders. 

6. Lying and Inconsistent Narratives

My boyfriend has an acquaintance like that, and I’ve met her a couple of times. For whatever reason, she lies about where she was born and can’t come up with a straightforward life story. It’s super strange and most definitely a red flag. 

7. Substance Abuse or Addiction

Even if they've been clean for a while, their underlying issues may still be unresolved and may reveal themselves in other toxic ways.

8. Issues with Anger Management

Can your partner handle stress without becoming angry? Do they know how to manage their emotions? In both men and women, an inability to control emotions can rapidly escalate to domestic violence.

9. Financial Irresponsibility

If you're young and starting your own business or attending college, it's normal to have financial constraints, AKA broke.

However, if your partner is 30 and still can't manage to save money or is constantly dealing with debt or impulsive spending, that's indicative of more profound instability.

10. Legal Troubles

I'm not referring to cool 'bad boy' behavior, but rather a history of consistent legal issues they can't manage or criminal behavior.

11. Last Note

For the younger audience, this may be harder because there is little history anyway. In that case, please pay special attention to their relationship with their family. A narcissistic father or borderline mother won’t stop affecting your partner when they leave the house. Be careful. 


As always, I hope this short post was helpful. 

If you need personalized dating coaching, please let me know via the contact form - I have a few spots available for consultations.

While I’m not the most charismatic guy, I’ve figured out how to stop being so damn lonely, so I’m confident I can help you too!

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To brighter dating adventures,

Coach Colt 

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About the author 

Coach Colt here, the founder of Dating Armory, your go-to source for no-nonsense, practical relationship advice. I'm a bisexual male in a same-sex open relationship and a researcher in sex, love, and relationships with 7+ years of experience. I specialize in helping both men and women navigate the crazy world of dating.

Don't miss my other guides packed with practical dating advice (no bullshit repeated Platitudes) and tons of real life examples:

The Ultimate Red Flag: Your Partner’s Past

My Experience Dating Men & Women as a Bisexual Man [& Lessons Learned]

My Dating Adventures: One Week, Two Brazilians, and My Boyfriend

My Time in Prague With a Cute Argentinian Girl