They say social media isn’t reality, and it makes sense when you think about it. After all, we tend to highlight the brighter moments in our life–like a night out with friends or an exciting new purchase–and conceal the darker ones, like off days, skin breakouts, and hardships. However, despite the careful curation, pictures and videos tell a story, and you can glean a lot about someone from their social media posts–including your significant other.
The truth is, everyone unknowingly shares their red flags on social media. And though no two people are the same, there are some common deal breakers and warning signs to look out for in a partner and your relationship. Keep on reading to learn the 13 social media red flags in a relationship.
12 Social Media Red Flags in a Relationship
1. Appearing single
Appearing single on social media is one of the biggest red flags in a relationship. This can include keeping their relationship status as “single,” not posting photos with you, or asking you not to post or tag them in photos of the two of you together. Granted, there are some people who don’t want to flaunt their life or relationship on the internet, and that’s totally fine. However, it’s usually a major red flag if they’re constantly posting about everything except you. This might mean they’re keeping their options open and want to look like they’re still on the market or aren’t fully committed. Most people won’t go out of their way to hide a happy and healthy relationship, so beware of someone who does.
2. Refusing to acknowledge the connection
There’s an unspoken universal understanding that once you start dating someone you add or follow each other on all your social media accounts. It just makes sense. After all, connection is one of the driving themes behind every social media platform. So if your partner doesn’t want to follow or be friends on Facebook with you or your friends and family, it might be because they have something to hide.
3. Liking inappropriate photos
Of all the social media red flags, this is perhaps the most notorious. While your significant other might think liking a photo is innocuous, it crosses a line when it’s an obvious thirst trap (think: provocative shots in lingerie, sexual posts, etc.); it lets the owner of the post know it caught their attention and they like what they see. So if you notice your partner doing this, let them know they’re being disrespectful and coming off flirtatiously. Likewise, reiterate that they don’t have to stop liking wholesome photos of celebrities, athletes, or friends and family. More often than not, someone who loves and cares about you will stop. But if they don’t, it might be time to reconsider what you’re doing with them.
4. Constantly adding or following new “friends”
It’s no secret that making new friends as an adult is notoriously challenging. Which is why constantly adding or following new “friends” is pretty suspicious. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with adding coworkers or someone you’re friends with on social media. But it’s a red flag when someone goes out of their way to accept friend requests or follow back people they hardly know. It opens up the door for untoward attention, and someone who loves and respects you usually won’t want to put themselves in that position in the first place.
5. Stalking their ex
Just like bringing up an ex right away is considered one of the major dating app red flags, stalking an ex online is one of the biggest red flags in relationships as well. If your partner’s spending their free time using their social media accounts to find out what their ex is up to, alarm bells should sound in your head. This usually means they’re not fully over them, whereas someone who’s healed and moved on will be focused on your life together and moving forward.
6. Leaving flirty comments on other posts
There is absolutely no reason why your significant other should be leaving flirty comments on anyone else’s posts–even leaving something as seemingly innocent as a heart eye or flame emoji crosses the line. This is one of the biggest red flags on social media because it shows where their head is at and how willing they are to test the boundaries of your relationship. If they’re doing this now, try nipping it in the bud and talking to them before it’s too late; maybe they’ll understand where you’re coming from and knock it off or maybe they won’t. Either way, you’ll then know how to proceed accordingly, knowing you tried your best.
7. Hidden messages
Lying and keeping secrets are two common relationship deal breakers. After all, someone who isn’t doing anything wrong won’t have anything to hide. The same goes for social media as well. You should be able to look through your partner’s DM’s without stumbling across messages that have missing pieces of conversation or are tucked away in some hidden folder. If that’s the case, they likely know they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.
8. Secret accounts
Having multiple accounts is common nowadays—but having multiple secret accounts you don’t know about? Major red flag. Your partner could be using these accounts for a slew of illicit or disrespectful activity, like stalking their ex, flirting with other people and more. Regardless of what they’re using it for, though, secret accounts often come into play when someone has something to hide.
9. Constantly posting attention-seeking content
Nothing inflates your ego quite like being told by strangers online just how gorgeous you are. While it’s OK to flaunt what you’ve got every once in a while, it becomes a red flag when it’s excessive (think: constantly posting shirtless or seductive selfies, etc.). Someone who incessantly seeks validation from others is likely going to have a slew of relationship issues, like low self-esteem, a fragile ego, jealousy and more. Likewise, your love and affection will never be enough for them. Of course, we’re all flawed in some way and have our own insecurities to deal with, but this behavior can drain you and put a strain on your relationship. When it comes down to it, you shouldn’t have to compete with the rest of the world for your partner’s attention.
10. Excessive PDA
There’s a fine line between being shown off and being treated like a trophy. While being invisible on your S.O’s social media is a huge red flag, excessive PDA is also one as well. When someone goes over the top like this, they’re likely trying to make up for something, one-up someone else or get revenge on their ex by showing off how hot their new partner is and how happy they are with them. Furthermore, they might also be love bombing you in an attempt to get you to fall for them so you’re fully in their grasp.
11. Their posts don’t match up with their stories
The whole “pics or it didn’t happen” mindset applies here. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, social media is worth a whole damn novel. In fact, fact-checking is easier than ever thanks to social media. For example, if your partner tells you they went to Greece, you’ll likely be able to dig up a photo that proves that. And while there are always exceptions, be wary of someone who has no proof whatsoever to back up what they tell you. Likewise, if you think something about their story doesn’t add up, trust your gut—it usually knows what’s right.
12. Telling you what you can and can’t post
You should have full autonomy of yourself, your body, and your social media–your partner has no right to tell you what you can or can’t post. Granted, there might be times where this request is reasonable (like a risqué photo in underwear), but trying to micromanage everything is a huge red flag. This controlling behavior often leads to toxicity and can take a toll on your overall well-being. Remember that you’re the only one in the driver’s seat of your life, so take care of yourself first and foremost.