red flags in dating

Even Christians Have Red Flags

In Dating by Debra Fileta

Just because you’re a Christian, doesn’t mean you don’t have any red flags when it comes to your relationships. Because just being a Christian, doesn’t make you healthy. 

One of the biggest problems I see in Christian relationships, is that people often assume that just because someone is a Christian — they’re going to be healthy.

But that’s not how it works. 

People don’t realize that becoming emotionally and spiritually healthy isn’t something that magically happens when you come into relationship with Jesus, just as becoming physically healthy isn’t something that magically happens when you become a Christian. 

Becoming healthy is a process.

It has to be worked out. It has to be practiced. We’ve got to learn how to deal with our past baggage, and get victory over our sins and struggles. We’ve got to be intentional in the process of moving toward health and healing. 

So don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because someone is a Christian, they’re going to be okay to date. Keep your heart open and your eyes willing to see the red flags that might accompany a relationship – whether someone identifies as a Christian or not. 

When it comes to red flags, I tend to see them as anything that is blatantly the opposite of what God calls us to be. We’re called to be people who evidence God’s spirit in our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5). Anything that is opposing those traits can be categorized as a red flag. In my assessment as a professional counselor, here’s what that looks like practically:

  • The opposite of love: Someone who is struggling with a deep bitterness or hatred toward others (whether from the past or the present).
  • The opposite of joy: Someone who has a consistent negative attitude or overwhelmingly pessimistic view of life.
  • The opposite of peace: Someone who is ruled by worry or uncontrolled anxiety as the majority of their . 
  • The opposite of patience: Someone who has a short fuse, and exhibits displays of anger or rage in their life. 
  • The opposite of kindness: Someone who has an overall “meanness”, or an aggression to them in how they relate to others. 
  • The opposite of goodness: Someone who has a hard time being honest or transparent about their life, and has a pattern of deceit. 
  • The opposite of faith: Someone who isn’t living a life that’s commitment to their faith in Jesus. 
  • The opposite of gentleness: Someone who is filled with feelings of rage, is harsh in their interactions with others, or lives with the narcissistic “my way or the highway mentality”. 
  • The opposite of self-control: Someone who struggles with addictions in their life whether to alcohol, technology, porn, food, shopping, drugs, or anything that’s not under control.  

We all struggle with aspects of these things at different times: with worry, or fears, or self-indulgence. With impatience or a white lie here or there…but when you see these things as a general PATTERN in someone’s life or in your own, that is a RED FLAG: a sign that healing needs to happen in this area of a person’s life. 

Red flags reminds us that we need to STOP…and focus on healing. 

So if you’re seeing some red flags in your own life, what could it look like to be intentional about seeking help and healing in these areas? Would you consider inviting the help of a mentor or professional counselor to help you move toward health and healing? 

If you’re in a relationship where you’re seeing red flags, remember that it’s not your job to deal with someone else’s red flags. It’s God’s job. Red flags mean STOP, and it’s up to you to recognize the red flags and then set boundaries, and give each other space to heal. Sometimes stepping away from a relationship filled with red flags is the best thing you can do for yourself, and ultimately, for the person you’re with. Because what you see in dating, will ultimately blow up in marriage …red flags, and all. 

Even Christians have red flags. But by the grace of God, and with His spirit, we can learn to recognize them quickly and move forward toward health and healing – from the inside out. 

DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of Choosing Marriage and True Love Dates, and Love In Every Season. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast. Her popular relationship advice blog,, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter or book a session with her today!


Get busy learning what you need to know about healthy singleness, dating, and marriage. Check out Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me or True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life.

Choosing Marriage Christian Dating Book(Debra’s New Book: Love In Every Season Coming January 2020, Pre-Order Today!)

And Check out Debra’s Love + Relationships Podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!