The good thing about social media is that it allows insight into people in your life you wouldn’t have otherwise. Some people act in a different way on social media than they do in real life because they separate their online persona from their real lives.
In romantic relationships, this can uncover some things that will make you question your choice of significant other. If they post things they wouldn’t say to someone directly, or if they act in a way that they don’t offline, these are social media red flags in relationships.
Any relationship coach would say that this can cause problems because everything posted online is never really gone. Even if something is deleted, there’s always some evidence somewhere that can lead to discovering a side of your partner that you can’t accept.
Here’s what you should be watching out for.
Social Media Red Flags In Relationships
The best relationship advice is that you should always be honest with your significant other – if your partner is doing sketchy things on social media, it’s the exact opposite of that.
If instead of dealing with your problems in private, they’re showing the whole world what’s going on or if they’re flirting with other people hoping you won’t see, you might have a problem.
Look out for these social media red flags in relationships to know where you stand.
1. They’re always online
All of us probably spend too much time on social media, but if your partner is chronically online to a point where they get out of touch with reality, it’s a definitive red flag. People who live like this have a completely warped worldview and forget what life among real people is like because the majority of their interactions are with people who are essentially anonymous.
Constantly checking social media accounts even while you’re spending time together could mean that they consider their feed more important than your relationship or have something going on that they prefer to being with you.
Another reason for constantly checking their phone might be a social media addiction: using social media to put aside real life problems and forget about them instead of solving them.
3. They have multiple secret accounts
Some people have multiple accounts on social media platforms because they use them for different purposes, such as having private and business profiles, but multiple secret accounts are a different story. This usually means that they have something to hide, and if it’s your significant other hiding something from you, it’s a definite cause of concern.
4. They start fights online or write sketchy posts
Most people get into an internet argument at some point, but if your partner has a habit of starting them, it’s a red flag. People who enjoy online trolling and bullying aren’t looking for constructive arguments, but personal satisfaction from defeating their opponent at any cost.
Writing posts with the purpose of baiting people is perhaps even more problematic because it shows forethought and intent to upset people.
5. They retweet people or posts you disagree with
Liking a post that makes you side-eye them once can be overlooked, but if your partner often likes and interacts with people and posts that you disagree with, they might be a different person than you thought they were. If these opinions are something they know you wouldn’t approve of and they’re hiding them from you on purpose, it indicates an even bigger problem.
6. They post things that clash with your values
Taking it a step further, if your partner actually creates posts or adopts an internet personality that directly clashes with your values, it is a serious relationship red flag.
When certain values and beliefs a person holds are incompatible, having a healthy relationship is very difficult. This especially applies if they don’t express such opinions offline and you only learned about them from social media.
7. Their interests are questionable
The internet is great when you want to explore and learn about things that interest you, but for the same reason it’s also terrible. Unfortunately, it’s easy to find groups centered around certain interests which are immediate major red flags, such as anything involving violence, hate and abuse. If you notice that your partner’s online interests include some of these, be wary.
8. Their statuses and posts are mostly negative
If their posts are mostly concerned with how much someone sucks or how much they hate something, it’s a red flag that points to unhappiness with their own self. The danger of being excessively negative on the internet is that it tends to draw in people with similar opinions.
When people who have similar pessimistic and hostile attitudes find each other online, they tend to create a feedback loop – they feed one another’s ideas and escalate them.
9. Their posts are attention-seeking
Attention-seeking is a key trait of narcissists. Because of their low self-esteem, they need constant external validation, and there’s no better place to get it than on social media, which thrives on glorifying an image.
If your partner is presenting themselves in an insincere way designed to give them a certain type of attention, pay attention to other possible signs that you’re dealing with a narcissist.
10. They brag about doing something selfless
Being kind should be its own reward, so if your partner does seemingly selfless things only to get recognition and praise, it’s a sign of a less-than-genuine person. This shows that they’re calculated and cold and that they don’t really care about the person or the cause they appear to support, but they’re actually using them. Kindness for personal gain isn’t kindness at all.
11. They never post anything about you
You never feature on your significant other’s social media, but is there a reason to worry? Whether or not it’s a cause for concern depends on the content of their account. If they mostly repost things they find interesting or share links and memes, then it’s okay.
If they post details about their life on their social media and have especially shared their previous relationships, then your absence could be an issue unless you’ve specifically decided to have a private relationship.
12. They don’t tag you in pics
Usually the person you’re in a relationship with wants to show you off to the world and let everyone know that you’re together. However, this is another issue that depends on the context and how important it is for the both of you.
As long as you’re both on the same page when it comes to the visibility of your relationship online, you’re good, but if you’re tagging them and they’re not tagging you, it may be a warning sign.
13. They actively communicate with an ex
Staying friends with an ex after a breakup is possible for some people, but whether or not that’s all there is isn’t the issue here: the real question is how you feel about your partner keeping in touch with their ex. If you’re okay with it, then this isn’t a red flag. On the other hand, if they’re doing it even though you dislike it or even behind your back, it’s something to watch out for.
14. They make mean posts about an ex
Ending a bad relationship is a relief, but holding a grudge and clinging to hard feelings even after starting a new one isn’t a good sign. They might have moved on too soon – or haven’t really moved on.
It’s also a peek into your future: if they’re still angry at an ex after enough time has passed that they’re in a new relationship with you, what will it mean if you ever break up with each other?
15. They’re stalking an ex
Following what their ex is up to on social media is a definitive red flag. This means that your partner isn’t over their ex, no matter how much they might be trying to convince you and themselves of it. If they didn’t care about their ex any more, they wouldn’t be interested in what’s going on in their lives.
16. They seem to be keeping their options open
If your partner is keeping dating apps installed and even still talks to people they meet, they’re looking to replace you with a better option.
The purpose of online dating is the same as regular dating, to meet someone you can have a relationship with, so people stop looking once they meet a person they like. If your partner is still looking, it means that they’re not taking your relationship seriously.
If your partner is invested in another person and their posts more than others, it could be a hint that they’re interested in them. Is there someone they follow and religiously keep up with? Someone whose every post gets a like and a comment, and those comments often have a flirty note? Your significant other might already be a lost cause.
18. Their relationship status isn’t “in a relationship”
They don’t have to explicitly state on their profile that they’re in a relationship if that’s not something that matters to the both of you, but if they’re pretending that they’re single, it’s a red flag for sure. There’s a difference between staying private and hiding.
19. They leave and receive flirty comments
If their comments consist of 🥵👅️💦️🥴️ emojis and flirty or sexual comments, it might be harmless fun, but usually it isn’t. It’s one thing to post something like this under a picture of a sexy celebrity or in a clearly joking manner, but if they flirt with the same people repeatedly and seriously, they’re being disrespectful to you at best and ready to cheat at worst.
20. They don’t follow you or let you follow them
Some couples like to keep certain parts of their lives separate, which is healthy because it’s necessary to stay your own person in a relationship.
On the other hand, insistence on keeping your online life separate is a definite red flag unless it’s something you mutually agreed on. If your significant other doesn’t want you to see what they’re up to or isn’t interested in the things you post, it usually means they have something to hide.
21. They’re hiding your relationship from people who know them
Not telling their family members or friends that you’re together is a symptom of toxic behavior. This is different from being in a private relationship in which you’re not hiding each other, but simply keeping things low key. Not letting their loved ones know about you is a warning sign that your partner doesn’t have good intentions when it comes to you.
Learning that your partner is on a trip from a picture on Instagram is shocking. When your partner makes posts about their life on social media and you only find out about it then, you definitely have relationship problems. It might be a sign that your partner is withdrawing from the relationship and trying to create distance from you.
23. Their pics suggest a drinking or drug problem
If you’ve been dating someone for a while but you still don’t know them that well, noticing that all of their posts include pictures or stories of drinking or doing drugs is a warning sign that they could have a problem. Talking to them about it might prove difficult, so be gentle when you decide to breach this subject.
24. They often post while leaving you on read
If you text them and they don’t reply, but you see that they’re active on social media, they can’t be bothered to talk to you or they don’t know how to reply. Either way, they’re choosing not to reply but aren’t trying to hide that they’ve seen your message. Unless you have a relationship in which you don’t insist on immediate replies, it’s likely a sign that they’re losing interest.
25. Their accounts are private
Transparency in a relationship is necessary to keep it healthy. If your partner uses an excuse of having a private account, you can’t help but wonder why the secrecy. There’s something that immediately says shady about having a private account that’s kept locked even from their significant other.
26. You catch them in a lie on a tagged photo
Catching your significant other somewhere where they weren’t supposed to be because they were tagged in a photo or doing something they swore they weren’t doing is a red flag. Lying in a relationship is both a symptom of problems and leads to more problems. Confronting your partner if they don’t admit that they were lying on their own has a chance of turning into an argument.
27. They follow a lot of accounts with sexy content
If your partner is following one or two accounts that post sexy content, it’s probably harmless. However, there’s a certain limit to the number of accounts where it stops being fun and could be a symptom of a problem.
When your significant other has a whole feed that consists of nothing but people they find attractive, it’s a red flag to watch out for.
28. They like or comment on inappropriate pictures
Liking or commenting on someone’s overly sexualized pictures or nude selfies then passing it off as not a big deal is a red flag, especially if done repeatedly.
Liking many photos posted by the same person means that they’re trying to establish some kind of contact with them. Liking pictures posted by many people is a sign that your significant other is fishing for whatever might bite.
29. They post details about your relationship
Partners in a healthy relationship should be focused on each other, instead of other people’s impression of how things are going between them. The temptation to let everyone know that you’re a part of a happy couple is understandable, but the decision has to come from both sides. Otherwise, keep your relationship off social media.
When one of you shares intimate details of your relationship with the world by posting them online without the other person’s approval, it’s a breach of trust and privacy.
When you’re in a serious relationship, the details should stay only between the people who are involved. Your problems are nobody else’s business because nobody else can understand it the way you do.
Talking to a close friend who’s known the both of you for a while is helpful, but airing your private matters where anyone has access is a mistake. Your partner talking to their followers about your personal problems is a red flag.
31. They’re comparing your relationship to what they see online
Insecure couples are obsessed with presenting a certain image online. This is a highly embellished and curated selection of moments from their lives which has nothing to do with reality.
Unfortunately, these fantasies can seem real enough to people who are unhappy with their own lives. If your significant other is comparing your relationship with a fictional one like this, something isn’t working.
32. They’re stalking you
This might be hard to notice because if your significant other is following your activity, they can easily do it anonymously and without showing any signs that they’re doing it. Social media stalking includes knowing all your accounts and paying attention to everything you post, like or comment.
Having any kind of page on the internet means that you’re aware that people will look at it, but following your every move is a red flag.
33. They want to control your account or your activity
An abusive relationship isn’t only one which involves physical abuse. Controlling behavior is one of the signs of emotional abuse, so if your partner is trying to control what you’re doing online, it could be just the first step in their abusive behavior.
If they’re acting in a similar way in real life as well, take precautions and ask for help if you’re concerned about your safety.
34. They’re checking your followers list
Another sign of manipulative behavior is if your partner demands to know who you’re in touch with. Checking who follows you and whom you follow is out of line.
Jealous behavior like this is a sign that your partner doesn’t trust you and wants to control you and your life. Unless you’ve betrayed them in the past and they’re still learning to trust you again, it says more about your significant other than about your relationship.
35. They ask what you’re doing on your phone or snoop on their own
Curiosity is fine, but nosiness isn’t. Your partner sometimes casually asking you about what you’re looking at on your phone when you laugh at something, is normal, always wanting to know who you’re talking to and what about, is controlling.
Looking through your phone is even worse, especially if they don’t have your permission. It can be a symptom of a toxic relationship.
There are certain things that relationship experts call deal-breakers in a relationship: they are behaviors or traits that you categorically refuse to agree with, which makes a relationship with someone impossible.
Because your deal-breakers can be something so fundamentally obvious to you, you might never state them to your partner, assuming they think the same way. This is why seeing a different side of the person you’re with can sometimes make you realize that they aren’t who you believed they were.
Recognizing social media red flags in relationships can be helpful in spotting any potential relationship problems and deciding what to do before they escalate and damage your mental health and well-being.