Red Flags in Relationships (Part 2)
written by: Kosjenka Muk
(Possible) affairs and promiscuity
- contradictions and unpredictability in words and behavior
- unreliability, cancels plans in the last moment, or leaves suddenly with unconvincing excuses
- avoids introducing you to their friends, acquaintances and family
- goes into another room to talk on the phone; hides their mobile phone and social media from you
- complains about "those crazy guys/girls" who "don't want to leave him/her alone", but "doesn't want to hurt their feelings"
- is suspicious or jealous without a clear reason (projection of their own behavior onto you)
- suddenly ceases to communicate, and suddenly starts again
- you have a "gut feeling" that they are lying to you
Possible physical violence
- has history of violent behavior
- finds excuses for their own or anybody else's violent behavior
- gets angry easily
- when angry, comes physically close to you, block your way out, kick furniture or break things
- generally impulsive and lacking self-control
- you feel like "walking on eggshells" around this person
- you are afraid of how they might act if angered
Other (general immaturity, selfishness, lack of integrity and similar charming traits)
- self-pity, perceives self as a victim, blames others for own problems
- very low self-esteem OR self-aggrandizing, overconfidence and arrogance (usually compensation for hidden lack of healthy self-esteem)
- talks scornfully and vindictively about ex-partners, or talks about them excessively
- unable to keep a job, financially irresponsible, dependent of their parents
- overly close (bonded) to one or both parents, especially if parents interfere in their lives and want to make decisions for them
- non-verbal behavior and posture that feels weird: stiff, nervous, unusual tone of voice (monotonous, for example)... especially if combined with other red flags. Might stare at you intensely (especially if they want something) or avoid eye contact.
- their words don't match their actions (they don't stand behind what they say)
- they are not happy about your success; they seem in better mood when you are feeling down
- demands a lot; gives little
- refuses to talk about problems in the relationship and find a solution together with you
- most if not all of your friends are warning you against them
- they are rude, scornful or aggressive to their own parents, especially the opposite sex parent. This is not the same as defending one's boundaries or sometimes being angry with parents. Even if parents are toxic or violent, one doesn't need to follow their example. The boundaries can be established with dignity: by reducing or ending communication, or by calm confrontation. As people often project their old feelings for their parents on a partner, hate or scorn for the opposite sex parent will likely later be projected onto you.
- they seem more interested in what they can get from you, than in what kind of person you are
- they don't have quality family or friendly relationships
- can't admit a mistake, apologize or express gratitude
- they ridicule your dreams, ideals and life values
- no matter how much you idealize them, or try to justify their behavior, your intuition keeps telling you something is wrong
- you keep hoping they'll change, or that they are "not so bad inside"
- you feel embarrassed being with them in public
Listen to your inner voice. Do not feel guilty for having criteria and wanting a happy relationship. Don't think you couldn't find something better. Here's what you could have instead:
- a relationship in which you feel free to open up emotionally and be fully yourself
- a relationship in which you feel respected and your opinions and desires are heard and taken into consideration
- a relationship in which your qualities are recognized and appreciated, while your faults can be constructively discussed
Would you feel guilty if you leave an immature partner? It's an indication that perhaps you perceive them more like a child or a parent than as an equally able adult, and perhaps you were conditioned by guilt in your early family. The best way to help (potential) abusers and toxic people is to not enable them to practice their power games on you (or others). If they don't experience unpleasant consequences, they can only be motivated to continue in the same ways. If they do experience consequences, they just might be motivated to change their values and treat their future partners better. So, allow them to feel the consequences. It's a form of love.
back to part 1
Suggested reading: "Working with abusers and abuse victims".