What Red Flags Appear in South Asian Relationships?

South Asians speak about the red flags they look out for in relationships that may deter them from potential life partners.

What Red Flags Appear in South Asian Relationships?

"Not wanting children is a red flag I can’t overlook"

A red flag in a relationship or otherwise is a warning sign. It is a hint that this certain quality or characteristic is to be noticed and watched over.

It is not necessarily synonymous with a dealbreaker.

So, what does this mean then? It means that if your friends say, “he’s a whole red flag”, then one should probably avoid them.

A person can have many red flags or just one. How many red flags someone can handle in a relationship depends entirely on the person.

Red flags are subjective and what would annoy or put someone else off, wouldn’t necessarily be felt by the next person.

For example, sexually, someone’s red flag is the other person’s turn-on but again, this is unique for each relationship.

Another example is how some people consider sexual experiences before marriage a red flag.

Others may see this as a positive thing as it may be an indicator of someone’s desirability or how good they are in bed.

Likewise, red flags are not always massive things and can be something small like being clingy.

On the other hand, some of these annoyances could constantly stay on your mind until it eventually gives you the ick.

At DESIblitz we are trying to understand the kinds of things men and women consider red flags in South Asian relationships and why.

Red Flags Women Look Out For

What Red Flags Appear in South Asian Relationships?

In order to get a wide range of opinions and views, we spoke to five men and five women.

Additionally, those who came forward are married, single, divorced, in a relationship and in the talking stage. So, all ends of the spectrum were covered.

When talking about red flags, 23-year-old single woman, Hania Mirza*, reveals:

“I hate a mummy’s boy. They’re still stuck to their mother’s nipple. Just talking about it pisses me off.”

Mummy’s boy is a term used to define boys/men that are heavily attached to their mothers for everything.

Many women see this as a very toxic trait, including Hania, who continues:

“My ex was a real mummy’s boy and it was always ‘my mum thinks’, ‘my mum says’, like just shut up man.

“I think that’s something every girl hates.

“Their whole personality is their mum. It makes me sick. Why the f*** would I want to move in with your mum after marriage?

“I swear they’re so used to being spoonfed by their mum that they don’t wanna leave.

“Like, do your own damn laundry. How are you big 25 and still want mummy to wash your underwear? Embarrassing.”

Hania was not wrong. Every girl DESIblitz spoke to mentioned a mummy’s boy as a red flag. For some, it wasn’t their biggest red flag but was a nuisance, nonetheless.

We also spoke to Preeti Singh*, a 32-year-old married woman about her red flags:

“One of the major red flags I look out for is cheating.

“I can’t stand someone who’s cheated. If they do it once, they’ll do it again.”

Cheating is a major red flag for many men and women. It is a reflection of disloyalty, lack of trust and lack of belief in the relationship:

“It’s utterly disrespectful and degrading. I don’t care if it’s invasive or if they’ve changed as a person. I give zero shi*s.”

Although many people change and become better, mistakes like cheating are difficult to overlook. Preeti goes on to say:

“Someone trusted you and you broke it. I asked my husband about his relationship history and why his last two relationships didn’t work out on our first date.

“A lot of my friends told me the first date is too soon to ask personal questions. I ain’t about to waste a second date on a cheater.

“That’s one thing I can’t overlook. It boils my blood to think it’s not even a minor red flag to others.”

It’s important to set boundaries and talk about things that are red flags during the courting stage. It avoids disappointment but also highlights expectations.

Early questions about someone’s relationship history can be intimidating and personal. But for some, it’s important to ask in order to have a better grip on a person’s potential.

But Preeti recognises that not everyone feels the same way about cheating which is hard for her to understand. Cheating is a very black-and-white topic for her.

Views on fidelity reappear when discussing major red flags in divorced 42-year-old Humaima Balil’s* marriage.

She declares that red flags started appearing as the relationship progressed which made things difficult:

“My marriage had many problems. The fact that he watched porn wasn’t the only reason for the divorce.

“When we first met, I didn’t think to ask about whether he watched porn or not. It just didn’t cross my mind.

“He should have stopped when we got serious. There is no excuse for getting off watching half-naked girls that are not your wife.

“To me, that’s cheating but he doesn’t feel the same way.”

The concept of cheating is complex. Not all people consider the same thing as cheating. Most agree that physical intimacy with a person other than their partner without permission is cheating.

However, with porn, it becomes more of a difficult topic to digress. Porn doesn’t require physical intimacy with the actor/actress.

But the act of gaining sexual pleasure with someone that is not their partner is classed as cheating by some people. Humaima concludes:

“He didn’t think he was cheating. What do you get out of making your partner insecure?”

“Like what reason do you really have to be watching porn when you can have sex when you want to?”

Porn naturally sets unrealistic sex expectations so it’s understandable why this made Humaima feel insecure.

Moreover, single 21-year-old Manvi Ali* added her opinions on red flags:

“A red flag for me is if you’re crying and upset and the guy always gets annoyed and says stuff like ‘ugh stop crying’ or ‘ugh I hate when girls cry’.

“That would be such a big red flag because it’s like how do you not care that I’m upset? And something you’ve done is making me upset.

“Instead, you’re getting annoyed and irritated.”

The way people deal with emotions is certainly something to look out for. Comments like the one Manvi has faced can be patronising and damaging to the relationship.

When someone is upset, their emotions are already at a peak, what is necessary is comfort.

A red flag can be anything. The way someone reacts to situations, the way someone dresses or speaks or the way someone acts.

A very interesting red flag is shared by 28-year-old Maria Miah*, who’s in a talking stage:

“Foot fetish. Need I say more?

“I just find it so weird and gross. I think it’s the same for fetishes in general but foot fetish makes me want to throw up.

“It’s also so difficult to bring up when you’re getting to know someone. I can’t just be like ‘do you have a foot fetish bty the way?’.”

Foot fetishes are probably the most spoken-about fetish. A lot of people are not bothered but others find it repulsive.

There is nothing wrong with having a fetish as long as it’s not morally or lawfully wrong.

If fetishes are red flags, it is important to bring them up during the early stages as it certainly can be an uncomfortable and awkward conversation.

Red Flags Men Look Out For

What Red Flags Appear in South Asian Relationships?

In order to balance out the scales, we asked men about the red flags they look out for in relationships.

A very important topic was raised by a 36-year-old married man, Hamza Basheer*:

“I think it’s really important to disclose whether or not you want kids early in the relationship. I definitely ask but know it can be intimidating.

“They think it’s the second date and he’s already on kids. I just didn’t want to waste time with someone who didn’t want the same things in life.

“Not wanting children is a red flag I can’t overlook. I’ve always wanted children and if they don’t want them then that’s fine but just don’t lead someone on.”

Bringing up children and marriage in the early stages can be very overwhelming and it may throw someone off, especially if they’re not even thinking about those things.

However, just because many people choose to have children doesn’t mean it’s a given for every individual you meet.

Asking these necessary questions will stop any upcoming disappointments. If the relationship then ends, it can at least end amicably.

On the subject of responsibility, 26-year-old Fareed Khan*, who is in a relationship, raised an interesting point:

“For me, a red flag is if she doesn’t want to work and is entirely dependent on me.”

“I don’t mind if she doesn’t want to work outside but if I’m working crazy hours in my office then she can at least cook and clean at home.”

Fareed raises a very important topic. Roles and expectations within a relationship are again something that needs to be set early on. Boundaries need to be discussed.

Whether or not some of these red flags can be overlooked or not depends entirely on compromising. Can you overlook this one aspect? Can you meet in the middle?

52-year-old divorcee, Foysal Malik shares a relatable red flag:

“If there is anything I’d say look out for, it is communication.

“Not just if they tell you how they feel or if you’re discussing things in general but the way in which they talk.

“The way someone speaks to you when they’re communicating is very important. Is there reasoning or disrespect?”

The lack of communication is the reason many relationships fail.

Making communication a priority allows both partners to stay on the same page and be aware of each other. It avoids misunderstanding and creates a stronger bond.

Whilst communication is important from both sides, the manner and tone can hold a lot of power. If the words do not match the tone, it is a problem.

Furthermore, issues relating to family relations are raised by 35-year-old Amin Hussain*, who is in a relationship:

“My red flag is tricky. You can only know about this one if they’ve gotten comfortable enough around you to speak their opinion.

“I hate it when girls try to make you choose between them and your mum. It’s not a competition.

“So, what if I can’t see you today because I need to be there for my mum? It’s about respect.

“I know a lot of girls will create unnecessary drama. I just don’t want that headache.”

Priority is certainly something that can create rifts between couples.

A lot of the time the partner and the mum get along very well and share a healthy relationship. But this is not always the case.

The son aka the partner can feel trapped between the significant other and his own mother. Someone is bound to feel disappointed if the relationship is already tense.

27-year-old Mustafa Abbasi*, who is single, adds his number one red flag:

“I’ve dated girls in the past who were not over their ex and that’s a major red flag.

“I try to be understanding but it’s like you’re on a date with her and she’s got lingering beef with her ex. It’s ridiculous.

“I’m interested in getting to know you not all the gory details of how your ex did you over.

“Heal from your trauma before you give another guy a chance.”

“I don’t want to be punished for something I didn’t do. These trust issues and the tension that comes along with it are not mine to deal with.”

Projection of past relationship insecurities can be damaging to any relationship that is still trying to be formed.

The emotional availability to understand a person and what shaped them is necessary for a healthy relationship.

Discussions surrounding red flags can be stressful and triggering.

But it is quite interesting to see the annoyances and/or characteristics that Desi people look out for.

If you feel the need to speak to someone to relieve your emotions or someone to just listen, then these sites may be helpful:

"Nasrin is a BA English and Creative Writing graduate and her motto is ‘it doesn’t hurt to try’."

Images courtesy of Instagram.

*Names have been changed for anonymity.