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. Here are the most common signs and why we look the other way.
Why We Ignore The Red Flags
- 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."
Common Relationship Red Flags
Here are some of the typical red flags that occur in many relationships.
1. You're Perfect!
And your partner can't tell you often enough. We often dismiss the flag with "That's wonderful. I feel so special and appreciated. What could be wrong with that?"
Unfortunately, while it may sound wonderful at first, it's 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.
2. They Can't Stand To Be Away From You
He begs you to stay home instead of having brunch with the girls, or she misses you so much when you're with the guys. We'll excuse the flag on the play with, "They are obsessed with me and can’t stand the idea of being away from me. They love me so much."
The truth is possessiveness arises from insecurities. It reflects the injured and degraded self-esteem of that person. Obsession is a perfume not a form of love.
3. They Need A Drink Or Pill To Unwind
Because drinking is socially acceptable, we dismiss this red flag with, "Everyone has their own way to relax. He or she binges on the weekend."
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.
4. They Let You Do All The Work
Partners in healthy relationships share the housework, bills, and planning. Do you make excuses with, "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."
It's important to remember "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 and expect other to care for them. They often zone out in front of TV or video games.
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.”
Trust Your Gut
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?
When we finally accept reality, we can find relief. 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.