Relationship Dealbreakers and Flags

In my early teens I read this sentence “Be like an Empress in love” which resonates to this day with me. Its meaning has deepened and expanded into different dimensions over time. From where I am today it stands for loving from a knowing of my own abundance, wholeness and sovereignty, and it speaks to loving, caring, nurturing and giving generously from a discerning and conscious heart. Loving like an empress means bringing much to the table and asking another to meet you on an equal level of investment, capacity, knowing and vision.

This definition of what constitutes a dealbreaker, red, orange, or green flag is part of how I discern who cannot meet me as an equal and who can do so effortlessly. It serves as a touchstone I can come back to whenever relating gets messy and I need to analyze a relationship, its quality, and value.

This is a very personal list and can by no means be generalized to all because it arose from lessons learned through my karmic patterns, early woundings and other conditioning. Therefore it might contain things that are of no relevance to others or lack aspects that are key to their joy and fulfillment in relationships. Yet it may serve as an inspiration for contemplation and maybe even writing of your own list. 

Getting clear on our boundaries, needs, wants, desires and what we no longer are willing to tolerate before engaging with a potential partner, friend, family member, or colleague makes a huge difference in my experience. 

Regularly checking in with myself and updating my Relationship Q&A’s and this list is immensely insightful, as it tracks how my boundaries move and settle in new places. And it helps me know my current self and new experiences that are opening up in relating as old ones are released. Being clear and committing myself to being true to Self helps me make wiser choices in service of my wellbeing and that of others.

 I define the 4 categories below as follows:

Absolute Dealbreakers are (consistent) negative behaviors or traits which immediately and non-negotiably disqualify someone from any kind of relationship with me.  

Red Flags are troubling behaviors or traits that show up occasionally yet are alarming and unwelcome in my friendship circles and all the more so in close relationships or intimate partnerships. The more red flags I encounter the more I will be motivated to distance myself or disengage totally.

Orange Flags are behaviors and traits that point to underlying red flags or dealbreakers which need observation to discern if they are a sign of someone releasing negative traits or of their attempts at presenting themselves more favorably. 

Green Flags are welcome and desirable behaviors or traits which open doors to trust and closer relating.


Absolute Dealbreakers:

Lack of self love

Lack of integrity

Lack of intimacy

Lack of intelligence

Lack of communication skills

Lack of self work

Lack of accountability

Lack of self reflection

Lack of emotional availability

Imbalance of giving & receiving

I feel a lack of trust or respect for them

I feel a lack of alignment or meeting on the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual dimension

I feel unsafe, unseen, unheard, limited and unbalanced in their presence


Red Flags:

Lack of self love

Lack of sovereignty

Lack of full responsibility for self

Lack of self reflection

Lack of self work

Lack of shadow work

Lack of emotional intelligence

Lack of emotional availability

Lack of vulnerability

Lack of depth

Lack of kindness

Lack of compassion

Lack of consideration

Lack of curiosity

Lack of playfulness 

Lack of creativity

Lack of passion

Lack of hygiene

Lack of intrinsic motivation

Lack of awe for existence





Stuck in analysis-paralysis

Stuck in self-sabotage or self-destruction

Stuck in outsourcing emotional labor

Stuck in low self-esteem/grandiosity

Lack of openness to change of behavior, thinking or patterns

Lack of capacity to create change

Lack of honor for other’s perspectives, needs and sovereignty

Inability to express love freely and with generosity

Inability to express their appreciation for me

Inability to see, hear and value me adequately

Inability to see and acknowledge their ego’s cruelties


Orange flags:


Extreme need for privacy





Tone deafness


Lack of sensitivity

Lack of dignity (self respect)

Lack of boundaries

Lack of self care

Lack of openness about themselves

Lack of expressions of appreciation or gratitude

Lack of consideration for nature ( incl. others, animals, planet)


Green flags:







Reliability and trustworthiness

Self work has become almost second nature

Knows own shadow and ego, has an effective shadow work practice

Ease and quality of self reflection proving a longstanding practice

Taking responsibility for his life, experience, actions, words and energy

Good self care (mental, emotional, spiritual & physical)

Good balance in giving and receiving

Good communication skills

Good emotional literacy, availability and intelligence

Good levels of self love apparent in choices, actions & thinking

Beautiful inside and out

Caring and compassionate

Cherishes and prioritizes relationships

Respectful of boundaries and need for consent

Quick to repair damage or misunderstandings

I feel an effortless and easeful connection with them on all dimensions

I feel a deeper sense of respect and admiration for them

I feel appreciated, cherished, respected and valued by them

I feel open, safe, seen, heard, free, playful and balanced in their presence


Photography: ‘The Golden Imprint I’ by Viet Ha Tran
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