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11 Red Flags in a Relationship Not To Ignore

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 unsplash.com


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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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