Red Flags in a Relationship

May 23, 2024

I spent a couple of hours yesterday trying to comfort a friend who had ended a relationship the night before; someone she had known a while via a local interest group and had allowed herself to get too involved with too quickly.

However, whilst most of us either go quiet or can’t stop talking about our new guy and bore everyone, her convos about him started to ring warning bells for those of us who knew her.  There was talk of the special necklace he had ordered at the beginning of December and then a week later hearing that he got annoyed when one of her friends asked him about it at dinner; her presents on Christmas day turned out to be a diary and a cheap dressing gown. He invited her out for her birthday for a week away but made  her pay… Countless signs that we all discussed with her, but she was always giving him another chance.

Identifying red flags in a relationship is crucial for maintaining our emotional health and safety. Here are some major red flags to watch out for:

  1. Lack of Communication: Difficulty in discussing feelings, needs, or problems. Healthy communication is essential for resolving conflicts and understanding each other.
  2. Controlling Behavior: One partner tries to control the other’s actions, decisions, or relationships. This can manifest as excessive jealousy, monitoring activities, or dictating what the other should wear or whom they can see.
  3. Disrespect: Disrespectful behavior, such as belittling, mocking, or dismissing your opinions and feelings, is a serious red flag. Mutual respect is fundamental in a healthy relationship.
  4. Constant Criticism: Frequent criticism, name-calling, or making you feel inferior can erode self-esteem and create a toxic environment.
  5. Lack of Trust: Trust issues, such as constant suspicion, accusations of infidelity without cause, or invasion of privacy (e.g., checking your phone or emails), can undermine the relationship’s foundation.
  6. Emotional or Physical Abuse: Any form of abuse—emotional, physical, or psychological—is unacceptable. This includes threats, intimidation, manipulation, or actual physical harm.
  7. Dishonesty: Lying or withholding information destroys trust and can indicate deeper issues in the relationship. Transparency is key to a healthy partnership.
  8. Dependency: Over-reliance on one partner for emotional or financial support can create an unhealthy imbalance. Both partners should be able to support themselves and contribute to the relationship.
  9. Isolation: If your partner tries to isolate you from friends, family, or other support systems, it can be a form of control and manipulation.
  10. Unresolved Past Issues: If one partner is still dealing with unresolved issues from past relationships or personal traumas, it can negatively impact the current relationship.
  11. Unequal Effort: A significant imbalance in effort, where one partner consistently invests more time, energy, or resources into the relationship than the other, can lead to resentment and dissatisfaction.
  12. Addictive Behaviors: Substance abuse or other addictive behaviors that affect the relationship negatively. This includes gambling, excessive drinking, or drug use that harms the partner or the relationship.
  13. Different Values or Goals: Fundamental differences in values, life goals, or priorities that are not addressed or respected can lead to ongoing conflict and dissatisfaction.
  14. Lack of Support: A partner who is not supportive of your goals, dreams, or personal growth can hinder your progress and happiness.
  15. Neglect: Consistent neglect or indifference towards the relationship or one’s partner can signal deeper issues and lead to feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

Recognizing these red flags early can help individuals to recognise the reality of their relationships and take necessary steps to address issues or, if needed, exit unhealthy situations.

So why do some of us chase unhealthy love?

I think it’s almost an addiction which leaves people craving their next fix from that person, and in the meantime, they will tolerate and accept all the negative emotions. The lows of everything from the anxiety because they haven’t been in touch or they can see that the message has been read, but not replied to; the day they don’t message and the  way they behave that causes upset, that ability they have to control others and make them start to thing they have done something wrong themselves…. Some  people just accept this behaviour because when they do get “attention” from that person, it makes them feel so good.

These types of relationships play havoc with our emotions, cause stress and are not healthy, and yet many choose not to walk away.  It’s also sad because they are unable to recognise that someone else could give them that healthy, happy and peaceful relationship that is far better for them long term.

I guess it’s also possible that people don’t want to be alone and are happy to put up with crumbs just so that they can call themselves “with someone”, even though deep down, they know that it’s just a house of cards.

It’s also all too common for people to go back to someone not  long after breaking  up  because they still need this rush of dopamine in the brain. It’s going to take a conscious and intentional approach to break this cycle that they have developed.

“I just want to be loved, what did I do  wrong?” my friend asked. She nodded when I told her that she needed to love herself first and believe that she didn’t do anything wrong. But I know it’s going to take time for her to recognise that and be able to move on. She won’t block his number because she wants closure, but deep down I know she isn’t strong enough to delete his contact details because she still wants the interaction. Nothing I can do other than to be there for her and keep my fingers crossed that she does not give in and accept him back into her life…

We have to learn to be content in our own company and with our close friends, and never lower our own standards. Not easy when we don’t  value ourselves as we should and recognise that yes we deserve better than than breadcrumbs when it suits the other person.






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