Last Updated on February 24, 2021

11 Red Flags in a Relationship Not To Ignore

11 Red Flags in a Relationship Not To Ignore

A new relationship with someone you really like can make you feel like you’re walking on cloud nine. A seemingly match made in heaven, however, can potentially blind you—as well as deafen you—to serious negative behaviors. These can include untreatable personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder, to name a few.[1][2][3]

Frequently, there are red flags—signs that indicate that something is amiss. These are signs that you would easily see in your friend’s new love interest but be oblivious to in your own. Below is a short video about red flags in dating.

If ignored, red flags in a relationship can turn an apparently romantic relationship into an ugly and painful alliance. And the deeper you get, the more excruciating it will eventually become. Fortunately, the alerts along the way highlight certain behaviors that let you know something is extremely wrong—that you need to get out before you get in too deep.

Below, I’ve delineated some red flags in a relationship and how they might appear.

1. Moves Too Fast!

I had a client who started dating a co-worker. Within three weeks, he wanted to meet the family and actually did at a Christmas party. But that’s not all. He wanted to move in. He began talking in earnest about getting married and having children. Three weeks! If that is not a red flag, I don’t know what is.

During the first three weeks, you will see the finest aspects of the person. No one shows you their true self in the early phases of the relationship. After all, they’re trying to woo you. But keep your eyes open because they do show you enough. Consider it an “Amber Alert.”

I strongly suggested to my client that she date her co-worker for at least 1.5 to 2 years to actually get to know him better.

Caution: if someone is moving too fast, be careful. This is an indication that they are either desperate or that they want to catch you before you discover some deep, dark secret.

2. Puts You on a Pedestal

“Jane’s” new love interest put her on a pedestal after dating for only a few weeks. In his eyes, she was “perfect.” While it may seem flattering to have someone look at you adoringly all the time and to think that you’re the next best thing since sliced bread, it’s actually a little bit creepy and off-putting.


Within three months, he proposed. She accepted. It wasn’t long before he learned she was a bad cook and a worse housekeeper. Fights ensued. Their relationship became plagued with endless arguments. Her undeniable beauty had blinded him to her flaws. He’d built her up so much that when he actually saw her, he felt let down—dismayed.

According to the article, Why It’s Unhealthy to Put Someone on a Pedestal, “putting someone on a pedestal doesn’t just mean exaggerating their good qualities. It also involves attributing characteristics that they don’t even have and being blind to their weaknesses. Instead of seeing a flawed human, you consider your partner perfect, infallible, and superior (to you and everyone else).”[4]

Remember, if you’re put on a pedestal, there’s nowhere to go but down. Your imperfections will surface. At this point, your “admirer” will know you’re not who he thought you were—and of course, you weren’t. No one is.

Beware of someone who puts you on a pedestal. You can’t rest there forever.

3. Reminds You Too Much of Mr. Hyde!

If you are on a date with your new guy and he starts yelling at the server because some aspect of his order arrived wrong, be on alert. Or while driving, he jerks his car to get around traffic while yelling out expletives. These behaviors scream out anger issues.

A young woman I recently treated told me about her marriage with an abusive man. When I asked her whether or not she’d seen red flags early on, she told me she had, but that she didn’t think they were a big deal.

“He was so sweet, otherwise,” she told me. She dismissed them, thinking, “He’s had a rough day at work.” Or, “I should have had dinner served on time.”

Someone’s incessant angry behavior should never be explained away. It only worsens over time. In this particular case, it ended with him trying to strangle her. It took nearly losing her life to finally leave the marriage and get into a Battered Woman’s Shelter.

Tip: Try and get as much information about your new partner’s past. If they’ve come from severely traumatic family life and are continuously exhibiting anger, seriously consider ending the relationship.


4. Is Disrespectful

How does your partner treat you? Does he put you down? Does he make major decisions without consulting you? Does he embarrass you in front of others? Does he look at other women/men while in your presence?

Maybe he dismisses what you say as “stupid” or “insignificant” or puts down your work. If you have a partner who doesn’t prioritize you and refuses to spend time with your family, it’s a show of disrespect. No relationship is perfect, but don’t allow yourself to be mistreated, taken for granted, or diminished in any way.

In the article, 9 Signs Your Partner Doesn’t Respect You Enough, Laken Howard states, “Healthy relationships are all about establishing and respecting one another’s boundaries, and a partner who repeatedly ignores or tramples all over your boundaries—whether it’s in the bedroom or outside it—clearly doesn’t respect you enough.”[5]

5. Is Too Clingy!

If someone you’re dating is too clingy, that’s another red flag. What is “too clingy?” Someone who constantly wants to be by your side is too clingy. Their life starts and ends with you. Outside of their relationship with you, they have nothing. It’s like they’re glued at the hip. If you want some alone time, they’ll accuse you of not loving them.

I once knew a woman like this. She hung on her honey’s every word. When he would play the guitar, she was at his feet, looking up at him worshipfully. She didn’t have her own identity. Having someone revere you like that may seem like a sweet thing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be adored? But that adoration can turn sour. Eventually, you’ll feel like you’re being smothered.

Personal time is important. If your partner wants to do everything with you and you notice that they have no life outside of you, then that’s a red flag to watch out for.

6. Is a Master Manipulator

If you feel fear, obligation, or guilt, chances are you’re being manipulated. Manipulators will use myriad ways of manipulating you into getting what they want and leave you feeling powerless, disoriented, and thwarted.

According to the article, Red Flags: Are You Being Emotionally Manipulated?, “Manipulation is any attempt to sway a person’s emotions to get them to act in a specific way or feel a certain thing.”[6]

Everyone is guilty of manipulation at one point or another. Mostly it’s harmless. But the “master manipulator” is one to be avoided at all costs. One of their most effective tools is the use of fear. They will threaten you or use violence as a means to achieve their goals. Over time, all they need is a menacing tone and intimidating body language to get you to comply with their demands.


Another powerful tool in the manipulator’s tool belt is the silent treatment. If you don’t do what they want, they will simply stop talking to you—act as though you don’t exist. This is one of the most painful types of punishment.

Preying on your insecurities is another favorite tactic. For example, let’s say you feel insecure about the way you look. Your manipulator will use that to his advantage by saying something like, “With the way you look, no one but me will ever love you!” These are just some of how manipulators get their way, but there are many others.

7. Has a Seesaw Attitude

Watch for someone who has a Seesaw Attitude. It’s a phrase I coined because you actually feel like you’re a seesaw—up one minute, down the next.

This person can go from loving to hateful on a dime, or vice versa. They can behave in an odious and cruel way, leaving you to feel lost, scared, and trapped. Then suddenly, they turn into Gandhi—acting loving and charming. Once you start to let down your guard, they may turn back into a monster. There’s no way to know when and how long it will last.

If you see this red flag waiving, run, hide, and don’t look back!

8. Keeps Secrets/Vague

If the person you’re dating is purposely vague and secretive, beware. If they don’t want to talk about their past, what they do for work, or tell you anything about their family, there is something untoward happening.

Some ways you can detect if secrets are being kept from you are as follows:

  • They suddenly become the nicest person in the world. While this may not seem like a bad thing, it could be, especially if it deviates from their normal behavior. They may be trying to throw you off their scent.
  • They are excessively proprietorial of their smartphone. They never share their code, they take it everywhere (even the bathroom), and calls are taken in another room.
  • They overreact when you confront them, making you feel like you’re mad for even asking about it.
  • They don’t share where they’re going or where they’ve been. For instance, “I’m going out!” Where? you ask, “Just out!”

According to the article, If Your Partner Does These 7 “Common” Things, They May Be Hiding Something, “Although you don’t have to keep tabs on each other every second of the day, it’s never a good sign if your partner is vague about where they have been or what they have been doing.”[7]

A kept secret, unless about a surprise party, should not be ignored. It’s a huge red flag in a relationship, and one you don’t want to justify, excuse, or rationalize away.


9. Gaslights You

If you are with a partner who gaslights you, you have a grave problem on your hands. Narcissists are really good at this.

What is gaslighting? Essentially, it’s a type of manipulation. The gaslighter will try and make you doubt yourself and make you feel like you’re crazy. He can do this in several ways. For example, he will trivialize—minimize your feelings or make you feel like they don’t matter. He’ll often accuse you of “overreacting.”

Another gaslighting technique is countering whatever you say. He’ll question your memory, make up new details, or deny that something happened. And yet another way is by forgetting/denying. You might mention a specific event, to which they might respond, “I don’t remember that.” Or, “You’re crazy. That never happened.”

People who are gaslighted literally start to distrust themselves and start to question what they remember, what they said, or did. Living with this type of individual is like living in a kind of mental hell. Watch out for that red flag and get away as fast as possible.

10. Has Contrasting Core Values

Having similar core values is highly important to the success of any relationship. For instance, if you’re a homebody and he’s an adventurer who loves traveling the world, consider this a possible red flag in a relationship. Or if you love saving money for a rainy day, and he spends your money as soon as it is directly wired into your account, again, that’s a problem. Perhaps he’s a devout Catholic who wants 10 kids, and you’re a spiritual Reiki healer who loves going on enlightenment retreats and wants no children. You get the picture.

You both must be on the same page. If not, power struggles are certain to ensue, and either you’ll both be miserable, or one of you will end up compromising your life away.

11. Isolates You From Your Family and Friends

Anyone who makes constant demands to keep you from your family and friends is a huge cause for concern. It may start little by little. For example, he might say, “Why don’t you stay home tonight; I’m going to miss you so much! I want my baby near me.” At first, you may feel flattered and think, “Aww, he loves me so much, he just wants to be with me.” Don’t be fooled.

If your partner wants to keep you all to himself all the time, run! This is how domestic situations begin. The man starts alienating you from the people closest to you. Eventually, you feel like you have no one but him, and that’s exactly the way he wants it! So, yes, this is definitely another red flag in a relationship to look out for. Isolation of any kind is not flattering—it’s dangerous.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can turn a red flag in a relationship into green. People don’t typically change. If you see one of the above red flags, there is a problem. Staying in the relationship in hopes that things will turn around is a waste of time.


In my experience, the above-mentioned red flags and the people who wave them rarely, if ever, change for the better. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before the behavior escalates. And then, it’s like throwing a lit match into a vat of gasoline. Heed the warning, and you’ll be fine.

More Relationship Advice

Featured photo credit: Andrik Langfield via


More by this author

Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:


  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.


Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.


Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.


However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.


Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:


  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:


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