In a toxic relationship we may ask ourselves why didn’t we see the unhealthy relationship clues sooner? The answer is often that we did see red flags, but choose to ignore them at the time. Why do we do that?
- For many it is the hope that the problem will disappear on its own and our fantasy will continue uninterrupted
- For others, it is because we have been taught that relationships are hard work and we must compromise. These include cultural pressures to stay in the relationship no matter what
- Some ignore the red flags because of the inconvenience of seeing them. We may have to make big changes such as the place where we live, our finances, or have to learn to be alone
According to Susan Biali M.D. @ Psychology Today “Until you start changing the actions you take in response to red flags, you’re always going to get the same results. The red flags are not the problem. It’s what you DO with that information – which is usually nothing – that gets you into trouble.”
Here are some typical red flags that occur in many relationships.
|They are consistently telling you how perfect you are.||“That is wonderful. I feel so special and appreciated. What could be wrong with that?”||It may sound wonderful at first, but it is utterly miserable being placed on a pedestal. The other person doesn’t see the real you. They project an idea of perfection onto you and will get upset anytime you act like a flawed normal human being.|
|They don’t want you to go away for the weekend with your friends.||“They are obsessed with me and can’t stand the idea of being away from me. They love me so much.”||Possessiveness arises from insecurities. It reflects the injured and degraded self-esteem of that person. Obsession is a perfume not a form of love.|
|They abuse alcohol, drugs, or behavioral addictions to relax.||“Everyone has their own way to relax. So, what if he or she gets wasted occasionally.”||According to the National Institute of Health, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to.|
|They don’t do housework, hold a job for long, or plan any social events for the two of you.||“It is just easier for me to take care of the housework. His/her boss was not fair to him/her. I don’t mind planning things for the two of us. I am just better at those kinds of things.”||“Under-Functioning” adults typically don’t show a history of financial independence or taking full responsibility for their own physical welfare and/or activities of daily living. They constantly need advice. They often zone out in front of TV or video games.They expect others to take care of them.|
The unhealthy relationship clues that appear in many relationships are easy to spot if we would simply choose to believe what we are seeing. Even more confusing is when people will actually tell you the truth and we simply choose not to believe them.
Maya Angelo said it best, “When a person says to you, ‘I’m selfish,’ or ‘I’m mean’ or ‘I am unkind,’ believe them. They know themselves much better than you do.”
Even if someone doesn’t tell you directly your gut will confirm the truth about what you see. Do you often feel you must ignore what is plainly in sight in order to keep the status quo in your relationship?
The good news is we are left with a sense of relief when we finally accept reality. While it is difficult to face the new challenges of acknowledging unhealthy relationship clues, ultimately we are comforted by the knowledge that we are not crazy. In fact, our gut/intuition was working just fine. It may feel as though we are being gaslighted by the people we love, but sometimes we are the ones doing the gaslighting to ourselves.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Nadine Knapp