Recognizing Red Flags in a Relationship
Is it romance or love bombing?
Is it a bad day or a temper problem?
Relationship red flags are difficult to spot because emotions can cloud judgment. If you tend to overthink things, you may have an even harder time seeing and accepting red flags because you doubt your judgment.“Am I reading too much into this? “Am I not reading into this enough?”
Red flags are also hard to recognize if you’ve been in past emotionally abusive relationships or come from a family with dysfunctional dynamics. It’s hard to discern healthy from toxic behavior when healthy relationships haven’t been part of your life experience.
Examples of Red Flags
Below are some tips to help you recognize red flags and determine the appropriate next steps in the relationship. Keep in mind that conflict is a necessary part of helping a relationship progress, as long as it’s handled in a healthy and constructive way.
1. Notice if the person seems interested in getting to know you or if they seem more invested in winning you over. A person will show interest by asking you thoughtful questions to determine if the two of you are compatible. Watch out for signs that the person may be trying to rush the relationship without taking the time to truly learn about you as a person.
2. Notice how your partner responds to conflict. Healthy communication is essential for the growth of a relationship. Pay attention to how your partner responds when you express a need or bring up an issue. In a healthy relationship, both individuals should strive to understand the other’s perspective and work through the conflict together. It can be a red flag if your partner becomes defensive, angry, or places all the blame on you during conflict.
3. Can your partner take accountability for their actions? We all have moments in a relationship where we may not behave as our best self. In a healthy relationship, both individuals can reflect on their actions and accept responsibility if they have hurt their partner. If you find yourself always feeling blamed in the relationship, then this could be an indicator of an unhealthy dynamic.
4. Notice how your partner speaks about their exes and other people in their lives. Do they speak negatively of others and express hostile opinions of those they have dated? Do they place all the blame on their ex for the relationship ending? How do they speak about friends and family? If the person only has negative things to say, then this could be a red flag worth noticing.
5. Notice how you feel overall in the relationship. Do you feel comfortable and secure, or do you found yourself feeling anxious, on edge, and afraid of what your partner will say or do next? Sometimes individuals can misinterpret anxiety as excitement or sign of chemistry in a new relationship. If you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, this is a red flag to pay attention to.
What if I’m Already Invested?
Whether you’ve been with this person for a month, a year, or several years, it can be tough to end a relationship when you’ve invested your time and emotional energy into making it work. Many people will stay in relationships longer than appropriate because they don’t want to feel they’ve wasted their time and they want to see a return on their investment. Unfortunately, this can lead to more wasted time and have a negative impact on your self-esteem. Reframing your view of relationships can be helpful in managing anxiety about invested time. Remember that relationships are about getting to know someone, having experiences together, and ultimately trying to see if the two of you are compatible. It can be harmful to view relationships as all or nothing constructs. For example, “it’s either a success or a failure” or “we either end up together forever or the relationship was a complete waste.” A relationship ending does not equal wasted time and there is always something to be learned and gained from the experience.
What Should I Do if I Notice Red Flags?
If you recognize any of the above signs, then it’s important to listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, you can take the time to reflect on whether this relationship is right for you. Most importantly, make sure to take notice of the red flags. Do not brush them under the rug or forget about them. If you aren’t ready to end the relationship, then focus on continuing to get to know this person at a comfortable pace while maintaining your boundaries. There is no rush to make a serious commitment before you are ready.
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