Red flags can sometimes seem like the most obvious thing in the world to someone when they’re an outsider looking in. But if the role is reversed and it’s your relationship that doesn’t seem all that healthy, it can be much harder to identify. If you’re unsure if your relationship is heading down the right track, fear not because we chatted with psychologist Charlene Neuhoff at RewireMe about what red flags you should be looking out for.
1. Boundary bulldozing
We all have certain boundaries to protect ourselves and define what we are and aren’t comfortable with. This could be a physical boundary – perhaps, for example, you don’t like public displays of affection. Yet your partner constantly insists on kissing you while you’re out and about. If you find that your partner is continuously bulldozing through your boundaries on a day-to-day basis, it’s a huge red flag and could mean they have little respect for you as a person, according to Neuhoff. It could also mean their focus is all about meeting their own needs at all costs, rather than what you both need.
If you’re being showered with attention, gifts and bold statements like, ‘Where have you been all my life?’ early in the relationship, this could be a huge red flag. It’s even worse if this is something they turn on and off throughout the relationship. What makes this one so difficult to deal with is that it’s one of the hardest red flags to resist! After all, who doesn’t want attention and gifts?
“Love-bombing plays into our socialised fantasy about the hero/saviour partner who will instantly make us feel whole, loved and understood,” Neuhoff tells us. “We are all vulnerable to love bombing. But know, these are not the acts of a soul mate. Unfortunately, they are more likely to be acts of manipulation and control.”
3. Lack of trust
If you can’t trust your partner, this is a definite red flag and not one you should ignore. This could even be your intuition trying to tell you that your partner isn’t the right person for you. A lack of trust could also be instilled in you thanks to former partners and could represent past feelings of hurt and resentment. Either way, you can’t just continue and hope your feelings will disappear.
“Tenuous trust is relationship poison,” Neuhoff explains. “Take steps to figure out what the cause is, and take action once you know.”
4. You’re entirely co-dependent
According to Neuhoff, this is the red flag that can easily be disguised as ‘the perfect relationship’. You feel as though you can tell each other everything, you do everything together, your friends are their friends now, you don’t want to go out unless they’re invited as well. They’re your lover, your best friend, your everything.
But this kind of relationship comes with a huge cost, sadly. Neuhoff describes it as a ‘ticking time bomb in a relationship’, explaining you could lose other relationships in your life and, most importantly, your relationship with yourself. “It can be a sign that one or both of you has abandoned their own needs, or one of you feels deeply incomplete/unworthy without their partner,” the psychologist explains.
Abuse in any form, whether it be physical, verbal or psychological, is the red flag that is entirely inexcusable.
“Don’t get me wrong, calling one’s partner an ‘asshole’ in the heat of the moment doesn’t automatically mean the relationship is doomed,” Neuhoff said. “However, abuse showing up in the relationship should act as a blatant stop sign.
“Be brave and bring the behaviour into the light. Bringing in a third party, be it a psychologist or trusted adult figure/friend, will help shift the dynamic and help you both commit to necessary change.”
If you are experiencing any of these red flags, it can help to visit a psychologist to help navigate your way through raising the issues with your partner and resolve anything that you personally need to work on. If you’re not so keen on chatting with a professional, talk with someone you trust and try to see the relationship from their eyes.
“When you see the engine light go off in your car, you take the car to the mechanic. It is the same with red flags,” Neuhoff said of reaching out for help.
If you do find that you need to end things with your partner, focus on the positives, like how you can now move on and get back to taking care of yourself. And hopefully, you’ll soon find someone better suited to you who treats you the way you deserve to be treated!
Should you need a little helping hand moving on, services like RSVP can get you back out there without having to leave your couch, which is a win-win. It also matches you with those most compatible, so that takes most of the legwork out of your journey.
If you’re in need of support, help is available Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
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