Almost everyone wants to find true love! We long to connect with another person on a deep and meaningful level. To create a lasting bond. We’re searching for someone who really sees us, loves us and who we can share our hopes and dreams with. We want it so badly that we are willing to take that chance that we might get hurt (again). Honestly, most people go through many relationships and bad dates before finding “the one”. And let’s face it, none of that is pleasant! But it shouldn’t be damaging! It shouldn’t dismantle your sense of self. And it shouldn’t endanger you mentally, emotionally or physically! This type of damage is the result of toxic relationships! The longer you stay in them the worse it is! Being able to see the relationship red flags as soon as possible can save you a lot of misery!
13 Relationship Red Flags
You shouldn’t feel like a fixer upper! If you’re dating someone who criticizes you (or others) often you’re going to be miserable! You’ll never feel like you’re living up to their standards! Now this doesn’t mean your significant other can never give you feedback you don’t want to hear. They absolutely should and if they don’t that’s a red flag too! But, they should have a lot more nice things to say about you (and others) than they do negative things. And critical feedback should feel constructive, helpful and kind rather than harsh and minimizing! It should be about helping you achieve your goals not their outside expectations of you.
You may be wondering why I keep saying “or others”. Well, if you’re newly dating someone and notice they are very critical of others you can expect that to turn on you. People who are harsh judges and critics rarely isolate those behaviors. They spill out everywhere!
Jealousy tends to be a grey area so let me clear it up a bit.
If your significant other is uncomfortable with your friendship with your ex or even your friends of the opposite sex that’s pretty common and normal. Even more so if they don’t have relationships with these people! If your boyfriend is friends with women who make no effort to become friends with you as well and you’re uncomfortable, suspicious or even jealous, that makes sense. Friends should make an effort to be friendly with new partners. Not doing so seems unkind and suspicious.
If you’re dating someone who seems to be jealous of your relationships with your family or friends, you likely have a problem. This should never be ignored! If their concerns are reasonable and related to differences in how you were raised or needing boundaries that’s perfectly normal. But if they seem jealous because you want to talk to your brother on the phone weekly or go hang out with your friends without them occasionally, that’s absurd!
Run for the hills if you’re dating someone who becomes angry or agitated because someone looked at you or paid you a compliment! Even if you are approached for conversation or they hit on you that isn’t your fault. Obviously don’t carry on and entertain their advances, if you do that’s just disrespectful to your partner and relationship. But you can hardly be blamed for someone else’s actions. This type of jealousy often leads to abuse later in the relationship!
3. Isolation & Control
Does your significant other hate or resent everyone who was in your life before them? Do they constantly see offenses and problems with those closest to you? If so, be very wary! Convincing you that others are out to get you or them or simply not good enough is the first step to isolating you. Once you’re isolated there is no one there to speak up when things go sideways, and they will!
Controlling behaviors such as telling you how to dress or where to go are huge red flags! You are trying to form a partnership not a parent child relationship. It’s reasonable to express differences in opinions about things and even to compromise but it’s unreasonable to expect someone else to adhere to your rules. If your partner gives you ultimatums or lays down decrees, it’s likely time to end things!
4. Gaslighting, Manipulation & Head Games
This one should go without saying but I’m often surprised to see what people put up with so it’s worth a mention! If you’re with someone who lays on guilt trips, brings negativity into your life or makes you doubt your own sanity, GET OUT!
You should be able to express that you are struggling or unhappy or simply having an off day without being forced to apologize. If you can’t tell them “no”, set boundaries or find yourself doing or putting up with things you wouldn’t otherwise you might be being manipulated. Step back and take a good hard look! And if you’re in a relationship with someone they shouldn’t be running hot and cold and making you chase them around like a desperate puppy seeking affection!
5. Fragile Ego
Everyone needs some TLC and affirmations! Especially after a disagreement or constructive criticism. However, your significant other shouldn’t be an unending hole of need and desperation! This is a pretty good indication that they struggle with self-acceptance, love and finding happiness within. And there is nothing that you or anyone else can do to fix that! It will never be enough. When it isn’t, they are very likely to become angry and resentful or find comfort in someone new (before ending things with you).
You should also be wary of people who appear to think more highly of themselves than they should. Oftentimes people compensate for a fragile ego by appearing to be egomaniacs. If you’re in a relationship with someone who always has to be right, can’t take any kind of feedback or makes everything about themselves, be cautious.
Occasional self-doubt is normal. Constant self-doubt or a complete lack of it are both indications that you’re dealing with a fragile ego!
6. The Wandering Eye
This one might be a bit controversial. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “men just do that”. But that isn’t the case. Now I’m not saying that both men and women don’t notice other people or even think they are attractive. I’m saying they don’t do it in an obvious way that’s disrespectful to their partner! If, every time you go out, they are checking out other people or even flirting with others in front of you, you have a problem!
The wandering eye indicates that they are looking for something better or simply don’t care about you feeling like a priority. I don’t know about you, but I want to be with someone who treats me like I’m everything!
7. Hot Temper
A hot temper isn’t hot! It doesn’t mean your significant other is passionate! It means they lack self-control! If you notice that the person you’re seeing lacks patience or has trouble controlling their anger get out immediately!
Anger is a perfectly acceptable and normal feeling. There is nothing wrong with it. But be cautious about people who are quick to anger or lose control and become mean, violent or reckless. Even if you aren’t the subject of their anger at this particular moment, you will be eventually. It is impossible to be in a relationship where neither of you ever becomes angry or pushes the other’s buttons and you shouldn’t fear your partner’s temper!
You can’t and shouldn’t be the center of their universe. If they have nothing else going for them and are holding onto you like a life raft this spells trouble! You will feel burdened and they will feel resentful!
Does the person you’re with have to have all their crap together. No! In life that often comes and goes in phases and you must roll with it. But they should have some direction. Know where their going. Have their own hopes, dreams and ambitions, that aren’t about your relationship!
You should inspire each other to grow and be better versions of yourselves. But you already have to have the individual roots. If either person in the relationship doesn’t you’re likely to create a co-dependent unhealthy mess where one or both of you is being completely suffocated!
9. Inability to See Others as Separate
If you’re with someone who only seems to see people as extensions of themselves, you have a HUGE problem! They should recognize that you and other people in their lives have their own needs, struggles, desires etc. They should know that everything you do isn’t about them!
The clearest indication that someone can’t see others as separate is the way they talk about people who are currently or have been in their lives.
Is everyone out to get them? Did they do everything right in all their past relationships? If you’re dating someone who frequently tells them that they’ve been victimized repeatedly or everyone they’ve ever known is terrible, that’s a problem! It indicates that they don’t see that other people may have needs that they couldn’t meet. That those around them are their own people and not just there to please them. You will surely join the long list of people who have “screwed them over” as soon as you refuse to comply with one of their demands. And those demands will be increasingly difficult to meet!
10. Lack of Empathy
Empathy and compassion are great indicators of whether a person can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Can they see that not everything is about them? Having empathy doesn’t mean you let people walk all over you, it just means you can try to relate and be compassionate about the struggles of others.
People with a healthy sense of compassion and empathy can communicate that they understand that it isn’t about them. They also know when it should be!
When you’re out in public and someone is rude or unkind your partner should be able to communicate that they don’t want to be treated that way, but they should also be aware that it isn’t personal. If they’ve never said “wow, they must be having a bad day” or “I wonder what they’re going through” after and unpleasant incident, you might have a problem!
11. Lack of Boundaries
If you’re dating someone who struggles to establish healthy boundaries with their own family and friends that’s a huge red flag!
First off, do you want to live with this lack of boundaries? The more serious your relationship gets the more frustrated you’re likely to be by their friends calling at 2am, their sister popping in with her own key unannounced and their mom picking their clothes!
If you’re dating an adult who doesn’t have boundaries with their family and friends, the concept is likely to be unfamiliar to them! It’s doubtful that they will understand and respect your boundaries! It’s not for lack of effort, it’s because they simply won’t know how!
Boundaries in relationships require delicate compromise! To be successful you both have to have some positive experience with setting and adhering to them.
12. The White Horse
If you’re dating someone who’s great in a jam, always shows up when you need them and helps you when you’re struggling, that’s awesome! But if they tend to come in on a white horse, take over and try to save the day you may have a problem!
It might seem nice to have someone show up for you in such a big way but keep an eye on this behavior! There are people who love to be rescuers. The problem is they are drawn to your crisis and like to feel like a hero! Like people with Munchausen by proxy they will keep you in crisis so they can stay the hero. Or they will leave you for someone who makes them feel more needed!
You should be self-sufficient enough to resolve your own problems with support from your partner. Don’t pass off your issues to someone else to handle. A healthy person won’t accept this, and you don’t want to be with someone who would!
What you’re looking for is someone who is compatible with you and brings out the best in you. That person is your perfect match, not the mirror image of you!
If you happen to come across someone who is exactly like you, always agrees with you and sees everything the same way you do that might be the biggest red flag of all! That’s an indication that they don’t have a firm sense of self, are highly manipulative or both! This leads to all sorts of unhappiness!
There is no one in the world who is exactly like you, nor do you want to be with someone who is. This is likely to be a bait and switch. As soon as you commit they’ll lose their grip on the façade and be angry with you for making them be someone they weren’t. Nothing will ever make them happy or feel good enough!
Take Care of Your Own Red Flags
Take the time to self-evaluate. A few of the things I listed above might ring true for you about yourself! If so, do the work to make a change so you’re ready for a healthy relationship! If you take the time for personal growth and self-discovery, you’ll develop a strong healthy psyche. This will help you develop a keen intuition that you can easily rely on when entering into relationships. So, the best way to avoid all of the heartache of a toxic relationship is to not only be aware of what you want (and don’t) but of who you are! Loving yourself is the key to avoiding all the nonsense and pain. You’ll be much less likely to put up with suffocating, abusive or manipulative behaviors if you feel good about yourself and your future!
Share this with your friends and help them avoid toxic relationships too!
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