Dating/Relationship RED FLAGS- warning signs in the cards…


I came across a book in the library yesterday, “The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted…But Chose to Ignore”** and got to thinking about the warning signs in tarot. Which cards alert you to potential dating/relationship disaster?

There are certainly some combination of cards that could be cause for concern- or at least further investigation. I’ve categorized them by type below. But keep in mind, that tarot is all about context. If one of these cards appears in a love reading- and all the other cards are positive- there is no reason to panic. But if one (or several) of these combinations are coming up again and again in your readings- you might consider them Red Flags.

Emotionally Unavailable

King of Swords reversed & Queen of Swords reversed- These cards have come up in many relationship readings to represent an emotionally unavailable partner. Look for other clues in the spread.

Four of Pentacles- Again, context is everything. But when this comes up to represent someone’s feelings, it often suggests difficulty opening up and sharing with one’s partner. This card can also be about withholding, emotions and affection, and can leave the other partner feeling starved and deprived.

Nine of Wands- This one suggests that someone is guarded, perhaps has emotional scars from past relationships and is fearful about opening up to someone new. I’ve found that this is easier to work through (than the Four of Pentacles), but it does present a challenge to establishing a strong emotional connection. It will take time to gain this person’s trust.

Commitment Phobes

Four of Wands reversed- This is another card that can definitely be interpreted in many ways. But combined with certain cards (the Fool, for example), I’ve found that this one can represent someone with a fear of commitment.

Knight of Pentacles reversed- This is someone who would be extremely slow to commit, dragging his/her feet at every step along the way. Again, look for other clues in the spread- but this is likely to be someone who lacks the maturity and responsibility it takes to make and stay committed in an adult relationship.

Players & Cheats

Knight of Rods or Knight of Cups- Don’t freak out if one of these cards comes up to represent your honey in a reading. But it’s important to keep in mind that these two guys can fall in and out of infatuation, lust or love pretty quickly. When paired with the Lovers and/or the Two of Pentacles, this is someone who likes to keep his/her options open and is likely juggling several love interests/sex partners at once. Nothing wrong with that per se, as long as everyone is on the same page, right?

Seven of Swords- Things get a little more hairy when this card is added to the equation- as it often suggests that someone is not being honest or upfront about their intentions. You think you are exclusive, but they are dating you and several other folks at the same time. Don’t make assumptions. If you want to know if they’re committed, ask. You want to be exclusive? Be very clear about it. Don’t allow anyone to pull the wool over your eyes.

Three of Cups reversed- This comes up in love readings I do, and it almost always suggests infidelity. Sometimes, it’s just the suspicion of infidelity so it’s important to look to other cards in the spread for clues as to whether there is evidence to support one’s concerns. The Seven of Swords is one card that would for sure. The Lovers is another. I also find that the Ten of Cups reversed and/or the Ten of Pentacles reversed will come up in positions representing external influences on the relationship (e.g. person is married, has a family and is otherwise engaged) when doing readings for folks who are the “other” man/woman (sometimes, without their knowledge). Similarly, the Four of Wands will sometimes come up in the challenge position here, again, indicating that one person in the relationship is actually committed to someone else (perhaps even married).

Drama Lovers, Thrill Seekers & Attention Whores

Queen of Wands reversed- This chick is a major drama queen- and the King of Wands reversed loves making a scene almost as much as she does. Look out for the Tower or the Five of Wands here- if they come up in the spread, these folks are likely to have very hot tempers and get off on creating conflict and chaos. Paired with the Moon, this person may have some serious mental health issues- so beware.

Six of Wands- This is another one of those cards that really depends on the context, but I’ve seen it come up for narcissistic types in many relationship readings. If it’s paired with the Devil or the Four of Pentacles, for example, this is someone who is addicted to attention. This person may NEED admiration from the opposite sex, and is likely to seek out relationships (likely more than one at a time) to fuel his/her ego.


Six of Pentacles reversed- Depending on where it falls in a spread and what other cards are pulled, this one can indicate someone who isn’t interested in reciprocity. Look out for the Nine of Cups (upright or reversed) and the Nine of Pentacles (upright or reversed)- when paired with the Six of Pentacles reversed, their energy is self-centered- likely someone who is looking out for number one and has little interest in what their partner gets out of the deal. Also, beware of that nasty Seven of Swords here- it could suggest this person is stealing from his/her partner.

Magician reversed- Beware- this is a classic con artist. He/she will be big on flattery, sweep you off your feet and empty your bank account before you know what hit you!

Queen of Pentacles reversed/ Nine of Pentacles reversed/King of Pentacles reversed- Totally depends on where these cards fall and other cards pulled, but they can represent a gold digger. At the very least, they suggest someone who is financially unstable and irresponsible- and looking for someone to pull them out of the hole they dug themselves into.

Empress reversed- This can be someone who is either the user or being used. If the user, this is someone who withholds (likely physically) in order to get what they want out of the situation. As the used party, this is someone who gives and gives- but is likely not comfortable receiving.

Control Freaks

Emperor reversed- This guy is all about control. Look out for the Chariot here as well- in combination with the Emperor reversed, it suggests someone who is only interested in doing things his/her way. My way or the highway! No card is entirely good or bad- but in a relationship reading, this one is rarely good- and in all honesty, it can go as far as representing an oppressive abuser.

Four of Pentacles- Depending on where this card falls, it can also represent someone who regards their loved ones as material possessions and will go to great lengths to hold onto what he/she regards as his/her property.


Devil- The Devil is not all bad. But it sometimes represents a need for control and codependency within a relationship- particularly when paired with the Moon or Nine of Swords, the energy here can be scary. When combined with the Eight of Swords, it suggests a relationship where one person is held captive by the other- perhaps not physically (although it can suggest bondage), but certainly mentally. With the Tower and/or the Five of Swords, this can be someone with rage issues who has the potential to be mentally or physically abusive.

King of Swords reversed, Queen of Swords reversed & Knight of Swords reversed- These folks can be verbally and/or mentally abusive- particularly when combined with the Moon, the Nine of Swords or the Eight of Swords. Words are their weapon of choice, and they can cut deep and do some serious damage.

King of Cups reversed & Queen of Cups reversed- These folks can be incredibly emotionally manipulative. Combined with the Moon, Nine of Swords or Eight of Swords- they likely suffer from a mental health issue and/or suffer from addiction.

What do you think? Any Red Flag cards you would add?

** Check out companion site, “The Little Black Blog of Big Red Flags” at


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