What is a red flag and what is a deal breaker? How big does the warning sign need to be before you draw a line in the sand and stick to it?
These are all questions which only you can answer for yourself, but if you find that you second-guess your own judgement about someone else’s behaviour, here are some red flags you should never ignore.
You’re Not Included
If you end up being a piece of furniture or baggage in a relationship, this is not going to improve with time.
Now, of course there needs to be balance in life and a new love interest will have friends and family they need to see, but if you’re always pushed into the late night zone, or if they make plans for big events without you, this isn’t cool.
Someone who is genuinely keen to incorporate you into their life will make plans with you, not without you. You’re not a piece of furniture to be sat on when they’re done having fun somewhere else. Don’t tolerate feeling sidelined.
If anyone makes you question your own perception of events or reality, RUN AWAY.
I’m dead serious about this one.
Gaslighting is a tool used by toxic people to deny their shitty actions or to deflect blame for it back onto their victim (hint; you’re the victim, this is abuse, you’re being abused.)
They’re Rude to Your Friends
Even if your friends started it, or are maybe kinda crap in their own way, there is no excuse for this behaviour. We’re all responsible for our actions towards one-another. One person behaving badly does not make it ok for the other person to also behave badly.
If your new interest is unable to treat your friends with courtesy, respect and dignity, then I would question whether they are a decent person and so should you.
They’re Critical of You
There’s a big difference between someone expressing their feelings about your actions towards them, and someone who has personal criticisms. We can all address behaviours we don’t like without making it a criticism of the actual person.
For example, if someone said they didn’t like it when you made fun of their new haircut, that’s a fair call. However, someone saying that they can’t be seen with you if you wear a shirt like that is just being a jerk.
Sometimes the criticisms are about physical characteristics, or your sense of style, or your ability to earn money, or your intellect.
None of this is ok, even if all of it is true.
Just repeat that line to yourself if you’re ever in doubt.
A kind person would never cut you down, even if they actually don’t like your haircut, or if you’re not the smartest cookie out there. Anything less than kind is just disrespectful and mean. Don’t accept this as reasonable treatment.
They Toy With Your Time
If you’re dating someone and they’re always late, or they monopolise your time, or they don’t contact you for weeks, or they cancel plans at the last minute; heed the warning.
Time is the one resource we can’t replace, so anyone wanting to be a part of your life should be respectful of the time you’re spending on them. If you don’t feel like this is the case, trust that intuition.
This also applies to someone who is taking up your mental time, not just physical time. You can end up getting strung along by someone who is prepared to message you regularly but who won’t make time or spend their resources to actually see you.
Another indication of time-wasting bastards is if they make you do all of the leg-work. You initiate contact, you go to their side of town to meet up, you stay at their place, you have to re-arrange your schedule to suit theirs. If the excuse is that their job is high-pressure or long hours, that’s not a good enough reason, that’s an excuse. Why is their time or career more important than yours?
Someone who really wants to see you will make the time to see you. They’ll forego sleep just to spend time with you. Trust me, this is the only person worth investing your own time into.
They Don’t Respect Your Stuff
If they either don’t take care with things they borrow, or they seem happy to use a lot of your resources, or they belittle your style, these are big red flags.
Our possessions are an extension and a reflection of us as individuals. As such, others should treat them the way they should be treating us. If someone in your life doesn’t respect your things, then the underlying message is that they don’t respect YOU.
They’re Not Honest and They Don’t Appreciate Other’s Honesty
If you have a sense that they’re not being straight with you, or they are uncomfortable and even aggressive towards people who’re blunt, this is cause for concern.
Anyone who feels the need to embellish the truth, or hide significant things, or avoid open and frank conversations may have unhealthy intentions towards you. They may also be hiding something which will affect your relationship.
Honesty is always what brings people closer together and lies always break our trust.
They Undermine Your Other Relationships
If they make you doubt whether your friends and family love you, like you, or have good intentions towards you; WARNING: Major red flag.
They may be trying to destroy your support systems and isolate you so that they can begin a system of abuse. Run away.
You Haven’t Met Other People in Their Life
Unless they just arrived from another country and you’re the first person they met, this a major red flag.
Normal people want their friends and family to suss you out and make sure you’re a real potential for a relationship. If they haven’t put you through the gamut of interrogation from their other significant people, then they aren’t serious.
You need to consider the possibility that either you’re their dirty secret or they may be fabricating who they are.
Your Family and Friends Don’t Like Them
This one is tricky, cos your family and friends may be decent people who would never say anything bad about your choices, or they may be highly critical of everything you do. However, if they have plucked up the courage to say something, and if you generally trust their intentions towards you, at least take it under advisement.
Take their point of view into consideration and then test it out for yourself by paying attention to your partner’s actions. If you normally gloss over them as a “personality quirk” or “they’re just stressed” or “I guess that reaction was justifiable in an alternate universe where being a decent person means that you behave like an asshole”…
Don’t make excuses for your partner. Ask yourself instead; would YOU ever behave that way towards someone? Do you think that it’s ok for people to generally behave that way, even under stressful circumstances? Are they being responsible for their actions, or are they using excuses? Is this a pattern?
You’re on an Emotional Roller-Coaster
Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows!
If your emotions are up and down like a carnival ride, that isn’t a relationship, that’s a high-stress recipe for mental breakdown. Nobody should be deliberately keeping you on edge or making you uncertain of where you stand with them, not if they’re serious about keeping you around and wanting what’s best for you.
You’re Blamed for Everything
Whether it’s problems in the relationship, or circumstances in their life, if someone is blaming you for things which are outside of your control, or which you only have half a part in, they’re probably shirking their own responsibility.
If any person also enlists other people to back up their point of view, then this is a relationship red flag. You’re not supposed to be in a battle or power struggle with your partner, you’re supposed to be a team working towards a great life together and other people have no place in that conversation (except a therapist, who isn’t there to take sides anyway).
Your Feelings are Dismissed as Less Important Than Theirs
NEVER let anyone dismiss your feelings as irrelevant. How you feel about something should always be a consideration for someone you’re in a relationship with, since that’s the entire point of a relationship.
It’s supposed to be a reciprocal and mutually beneficial exchange between the two of you. If one of you is miserable, that should not be ok with the other person.
At the end of the day…
It’s better to have a great life on your own without stress, being manipulated, used or having your time wasted.
Think of all the great experiences you can have without some loser (male or female; doesn’t matter) messing you around. You can travel, learn a creative craft, play a sport, go hiking or swimming, visit galleries, join a gaming club, expand your mind…
If you spend too long waiting for someone to be the person you really wish they would be for you, you’ll regret the time you can’t get back and the people you could have met along the way.