Falling in love is a feeling that is unmatched, so much so that we often ignore our normal thought processes and judgments. While people can ignore red flags in any relationship, romantic relationships can pose heightened problems if certain warnings are disregarded.
Why are we so easily blinded by love? Researchers in London found that feelings of love lead to a suppression of activity in the areas of the brain controlling critical thought. What does that mean for people in love? It means that the overwhelming endorphins accompanying feelings of love can cause the brain to ignore character traits and personality flaws.
Almost all of us will experience feelings of love at least once in our lives. So, what are some red flags in a romantic relationship, how can we identify them, and how can we heed their warnings?
Gaslighting occurs when one partner in a relationship consistently, and purposely, makes the other second guess themselves. It is one of the most commonly missed red flags in relationships. A master gaslighter will mask this tactic to make it nearly impossible to spot.
For example, if you feel your partner is engaging in behavior you disapprove of and you confront them about it, a gaslighter will try to make you believe you are imagining the entire thing, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Gaslighting is harmful because one partner is lying in order to distort the other’s reality.
Your Family and Friends Do Not Like Them
If one or two family members or friends do not like your partner, that may or may not be a red flag. However, if such feelings of dislike become a pattern among several people you trust, you should pay close attention to this warning. When family members and friends are repeatedly warning you about certain behaviors of your partner, the relationship may be more toxic than you realize.
Giving up your Friends, Interests, or Goals
Healthy romantic relationships should make you feel more alive than ever. But if you are feeling diminished by your relationship that is a huge red flag! While we normally spend extensive time with new partners in the early stages, we should be careful not to relinquish other people and activities we love If you fear that your partner would be angry, jealous, or critical of you spending time with your friends and family, you should heed the warnings that such anticipated reactions raise.
They Don’t Respect Your Boundaries
A partner who consistently fails to respect the other’s boundaries is another red flag. During the early stages of a new relationship, rules may not be established, so boundaries may be crossed unintentionally. But if you establish clear boundaries and your partner constantly violates them, there are clear signals of an unhealthy relationship. While your rules and boundaries with your significant other will likely change and develop over time, they should not do so because your partner fails to respect them.
How to Listen to the Warnings: Watch and Listen
Identifying a red flag is one thing. Taking steps needed to acknowledge and correct the warning signs is another. When we are caught up in the throes of new love, red flags may elude us.
The best way to notice warning signs is by watching your partner. Watching does not mean spying; rather, watching means objective observation, which requires removing your rose-colored glasses and evaluating your partner’s behavior honestly. Because it takes time for patterns to emerge, you may need to remain an objective observer longer than you would like. But if your partner’s worrisome behavior continues unabated, this red flag indicates behavioral patterns which are likely to pervade the rest of your relationship. At that point, you need to choose yourself over your partner.
Observing your partner’s behavior objectively will also enable you to hear things more clearly. The author of “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk,” Dr. John Van App, writes that “some red flags are easy to detect, like anger or the use of harsh language. Most times you can address these flags immediately.” More often, however, this red flag is triggered subconsciously and requires some digging to find its source. This is where listening will help. When you listen closely, you may hear your partner’s words to convey messages you may not have noticed before.
Love should never be a source of agony; it should instead be the bright spot in your darkest days. If your relationship is causing you discomfort, you are likely ignoring major red flags. To identify them and heed their warnings, you must remove your rose-colored glasses, observe your partner objectively, and listen to him or her closely. If you discover any red flags, remind yourself that relationships should bring joy, not suffering. As difficult as it may be, you should separate yourself from the relationship.
Healthy romantic relationships will enable you to take care of yourself, maintain relationships with friends and family, and have a positive self-esteem independent of your partner. Both partners should pursue activities apart from the other, express themselves to the other without fear of consequences, and maintain and respect the other’s individuality. We are often raised to believe that the kind of love worth having is difficult, messy and inconsistent. In truth, the best kind of love is easy and natural.