Dating Safety

When Relationships Get Bad: Red Flags

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Most of us are inclined to meet people and think the best of them, for a time — unless or until something you notice adjusts your view of the person. When you’re romantically involved, thinking the best of the other person is the thing you’re supposed to be doing. So in our pleasure in that person’s company, we don’t notice that we’re wearing blinders. It’s natural to fail to observe problems with your partner that should set you back on your heels a little bit. Besides, many bad relationships don’t start out bad, but evolve. Or small indignities one person might be heaping on the other start to accumulate, and you one day realize you’re in a real turkey of a relationship.

You won’t feel happy. You may not be able to clarify what’s wrong, but things will feel very wrong. We’ve all seen those letters to advice columns, where someone says their partner is “wonderful and has a heart of gold” and “doesn’t mistreat me, but isn’t affectionate or compassionate. He won’t say he loves me, and won’t do anything he doesn’t want to…” These letters combine effusive praise and then enumerate all the various shortcomings. The actual shortcomings describe a very different person from this “wonderful” spouse. How did this relationship last so long?

Big issues with a partner are called red flags. They signal that this person is not behaving well — and may be dangerous to you; they probably are already causing you emotional stress and without major changes it is going to get worse. Sometimes our friends see red flags immediately and find it hard to believe you don’t. We’re not all perfect and must be tolerant of some flaws in our significant others, but some flaws are so difficult they might make a good & healthy relationship impossible.

Relationship Red Flags

1. You’ve been dating awhile, and you don’t have your partner’s basic information — full name/address/phone/email, type of employment, if they have any family around, and are you aware of at least one friend of theirs.
2. Your partner has no friends.
3. Your partner lies to you, or is secretive.
4. Your partner justifies his/her behavior frequently, or makes excuses.
5. Your partner doesn’t show respect to you — talks condescendingly, doesn’t listen to you, sees your needs and wants as secondary to his/hers.
6. Doesn’t show you affection; does not praise or compliment you.
7. Never says he/she is sorry.
8. Does things he/she knows you dislike or that make you uncomfortable, but does them anyway.
9. Your partner always tries to put the blame for something he/she did, on someone else.
10. Throws tantrums or fits.
11. Shows extreme jealousy, distrust, insecurity.
12. Says his/her anger is because of your actions.
13. Hurts you physically.
14. Taunts or teases you, or calls you names, or makes cruel jokes at your expense.
15. Tells you how to act or what to wear.
16. Cannot be reasoned with, is uncompromising.
17. Interferes when you try to see your own friends or family.
18. Reads your email, messages and other private things.

This list is of very serious behaviors and most of them are absolutely flat unacceptable. Some are signs of a domestic physical abuser and you can check to see, if you aren’t sure whether what you’re experiencing is abusive or not. Here is a serious list from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, some of the items you will already have seen here.

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