Know When To Walk Away: 15 Non-Negotiable Red Flags To Look Out For

Know When To Walk Away- 15 Non-Negotiable Red Flags To Look Out For

When was the last time you had an honest conversation with yourself? What are your actual limits? Do you have any? Do you find yourself explaining what you won’t tolerate to others but then always ending up the doormat with your boundaries negotiated down to nothing? Do you know when to walk away? 

One of my favorite quotes:

“If you can’t walk away from a negotiation, then you aren’t negotiating. You’re just working out the terms of your slavery.” – James Altucher.


  • Limits
  • Boundaries
  • Standards
  • Happiness.
  • Peace
  • Sense of reality

Are things that should never be up for negotiation. Ever.

The most life-saving, transformative, confidence-instilling, and powerful thing that you can master in this life is the ability to know when to walk away.

Here on the blog, I always write about knowing when to fold. But keep in mind…

Folding without actually getting UP and walking away is like throwing your trash in the trash bin inside your house and refusing to take it out to dispose of properly (and permanently).

It doesn’t matter how many things you’ve thrown away (folded from). If you don’t take out the trash (a.k.a. know when to walk away), you are setting yourself up for even more pain and humiliation than whatever it was that caused you to fold in the first place.

Who cares how many trash bags you have lined up in your home? Who cares how much you’ve thrown out and how well you’ve sealed the bags? No one will be impressed – including yourself because deep down, you know that this is not impressive.

No quality people will ever show up at your door and you will never fully respect yourself if you stay in that kind of self-sabotaging “well, I identified what was trash and put it in bags, but I’m just not fully ready take it out yet” limbo.

If you don’t take the trash out, the smell will eventually detract from and take over all the beauty of your home. And the only people who will ever enter your home are the ones who have no problem disrespecting it as much as the owner already does. 

Contradiction is the root of all misery. You can’t view something as useless enough to throw in the trash bin but also, useful enough to keep in your house. Same with relationships – you can’t view something as hurtful/disrespectful enough that you have to fold but also, not know when to walk away.

If you don’t know when to walk away, you disqualify yourself from EVER being The One That Got Away.

It’s time to put yourself back in charge.

Here are 15 Non-Negotiable Red Flags to look out for and always, fold and walk away from.

1. Patterns.

I wrote about this in the motivational quotes post that I wrote with my Mom. The ability to know when to walk away goes hand-in-hand with your ability to look beyond grandiose actions, nice words, and even personality. You need to act on the recognition of patterns. Words mean nothing without action backing them up. And just like actions supersede words, PATTERNS supersede action. Everything you ever wanted to know about someone’s character and emotional intelligence can be found by taking a look at their patterns. Actions are great and all but remember… ANYONE can do something chivalrous. Anyone can make a buck, spend a buck, book a flight, open a door, put on some lingerie, buy a ring, send flowers, write a card or physically show up. The ability to recognize patterns is what allows you to separate the emotional nostalgia that’s tied to the grandiosity/chivalry of their actions from the TRUTH of their patterns.

2. A weird/inappropriate relationship with a family member or an ex.

If they have a boundary-less relationship with a family member, a “friend,” or an ex that at best, makes your stomach turn and at worst, has you questioning your value, their values and/or sexuality (and your reality)… know when to walk away and fold from this dynamic as soon as possible. Due to the lack of boundaries and subsequent triangulation, you will never be in a two-way, mutual, and connected relationship with this person. You will always be in a perpetual, jealousy-inducing, sanity-questioning three-some.

3. If they get off to making you jealous and “keeping you on your toes,” you will know when to walk away.

Because you never feel like you have “all” of them, you are in a constant state of trying to get all of them and “win.” This unfairly de-pedestals you, obnoxiously pedestals them, and redefines your definition of passion and relationships as something that you have to be “good enough” to experience. No thanks.

4. Treatment.

Know when to walk away here. Be very observant of how you (and others) get treated before this person gets whatever needs met, versus how they treat you after they get their needs met.

Also, be very aware of how they treat everyone around you – animals, older adults, children, friends, co-workers, people who are helping them, serving them at a restaurant, etc. Especially those who can’t do anything for them.

5. They always talk about the future but there’s never any progression.

You will know when to walk away when the shame of wasting more of your invaluable time starts to outweigh your desperation for getting a cat to bark.

6. They are the victim in all of their past relationships.

If they badmouth their exes and describe their past relationships as something that they were always wronged in…

This shows that they are not only incapable of self-reflection and introspection, but that they are totally fine subscribing to narcissistic delusion over reality. It’s pity-mongering and an insult to your intelligence.

Also, if they’re going to spill personal details, gossip, and talk poorly about an ex or a friend, don’t think that you will ever be immune. Walk away.

7. You will know when to walk away if, upon having an honest conversation with yourself, you feel more limerence than true love.

8. Gaslighting.

If you are being made to feel crazy for what your eyes, ears, and instinct are experiencing in real-time, that isn’t true love. Nor is it a signal to investigate further and gather receipts. Stay on your white horse and know when to walk away.

9. You are always the one doing the decoding, understanding, bending, and empathizing.

If you find yourself empathizing with someone who is unable to put themselves in your shoes and empathize with you, fold. If your empathy for them becomes a detriment to your emotional well-being, have some empathy for yourself and know when to walk away.

10. They are selfish and show very little interest in your life.

The only time they show interest in whatever you have going on is prior to them getting a need met. Or, if there’s something in it for them, they show interest. All other times it’s half-ass and disingenuous.

11. If they get overly defensive about something that you ask them about.

If their defensiveness seems very strange, unnecessary, theatrical, and disproportionate to a respectful and casual inquisition, it’s time to walk away. Especially if they deflect and make you feel crazy, immature, accusatory or “mean” for asking.

12. They compulsively or pathologically lie. And their apologies mean nothing.

Whether it’s a compulsion to lie or something deeper rooted in their mental health, you don’t have the time nor power to heal someone out of their own immorality and narcissistic facade. Especially if it’s behavior that is consistent (and they don’t see as problematic).

Many times, these people will apologize after being caught in a lie. And it’s great to be sorry, but if they aren’t emotionally available and the behavior doesn’t change… that’s being selfishly regretful, not genuinely remorseful.

13. They are a total hypocrite. There is always a double standard.

And when you address any contradiction, they have a bullet-proof excuse that makes you less inclined to ever want to bring anything up to them again.

14. The things that he/she thinks are ok/funny/exciting/a turn-on, etc.

If they think something is funny, a turn-on, ok to do, exciting, etc., and this does not coincide with your own relational value system and moral code, know when to walk away. Especially if you would not like to ever be on the receiving end of it.

15. If their definition of success, love, monogamy, honesty, and respect do not coincide with yours… know when to walk AWAY.

You deserve someone who defines these things in the same, or an even a better and more effective way, than you do. This person SHOWS you through his/her patterns, results, and LIFE, that their definition of these relational fundamentals is solid and not in need of an edit.

There are no exceptions, special circumstances, or new definitions here.

If you’re with someone whose “special definitions” come at the expense of your emotional well-being and you find that after time, they are no longer your partner but a collage of your excuses… know when to walk away. Be done.

Think of how you would advise someone you care about and do the same for yourself. Get some standards, get some limits, and know when to walk away. If you don’t…

How are you any better than the people who come to your mind when reading this article?

Just because you aren’t directly hurting other people like they are, that doesn’t make you any better for hurting the one person you will never be able to emotionally survive the cost of devaluing, hurting, belittling, and beating down…


Written by: Natasha Adamo

If you’re looking for further and more specific help; if you’re tired of waiting to be chosen and ready to choose yourself, personalized coaching with Natasha Adamo is the answer. Book your one-on-one session today.

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Author of Win Your Breakup, Natasha Adamo

About Natasha Adamo

Natasha Adamo is a globally recognized self-help author, relationship guru, and motivational speaker. With over 2.5 million devoted blog readers and clients in thirty-one countries, she is a beacon of inspiration to many. Her debut bestseller, "Win Your Breakup", offers a unique perspective on personal growth after breakups. Natasha's mission is to empower individuals to develop healthier relationships and actualize their inherent potential.

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