Red Flags to Look for (In Your Relationship)
This might sound very obvious, and even intuitive, but I’m just going to say it: the closer you are to something (or someone) the harder it is to see things clearly. This is why sometimes you might be the last person to realize your own relationship is toxic, or even abusive. It’s important to be able to identify signs of toxicity or abusive behavior in your own relationships - this is a skill that will spare you from a lot of suffering. Here are some warning signs to look out for:
- You might feel like you put far more energy into a relationship than the other person; if this is the case, this might indicate that you are being taken for granted, which puts you in an emotionally draining position.
- If you constantly feel like you’re walking on eggshells (you’re scared to say or do the ‘wrong’ thing), then that could be a sign that the other person is making you feel judged, or like if you make a ‘wrong move’ they might hold it against you.
- Feeling like your thoughts and emotions aren’t taken seriously or are constantly downplayed could be an indicator that the other person is belittling you to put themselves in a position of power - it’s good to make sure that you’re both on the same page about being taken seriously and feeling validated or heard.
- If communication is restricted, this could mean that the other person is reluctant to bring their true thoughts and feelings into the conversation, making things very one-sided. If this is the case, then it might be a good idea to promote open communication, so that both sides can feel safe in talking to one another.
- Most people have experienced this one before: when support is expected from you, but not given in return. Having to constantly live up to someone’s expectations while your own are completely disregarded leads to a skewed power dynamic, where the other person places their wants/needs above yours. It’s not okay, and quite frankly, it’s exhausting.
- While healthy relationships are NOT exempt from fighting, constant fighting and petty disagreements can be telling of underlying issues. Maybe it’s time to address the roots of these fights and work together instead of against each other. If these things aren’t addressed, you might find yourself having your guard up all the time.
- If you feel like you have to make yourself smaller so the other person feels comfortable and in control, then there is definitely a problem in your relationship. Making you feel like you’re not allowed to be your own person is a textbook manipulation technique, and it’s meant to increase the power the other person holds over you. If you notice yourself shrinking your personality so the other person won’t get mad, or make you feel bad about yourself, then you should consider taking a step back and evaluating what this relationship is truly doing for you.
- One of the biggest red flags to look out for is if the other person constantly oversteps and robs you of YOUR autonomy. You should be able to say “no” and provide or take away consent in whatever way you deem fitting. Another person undermining your personhood and your boundaries is NEVER okay.
- Another thing to be cautious of is gaslighting. This is a tool of psychological manipulation in which the aim is to make you question your memory, perception, judgement, etc. If you are not sure if this is happening to you, it may be useful to consult a psychological professional, or take to the internet and do some research of relevant examples. The more informed you are, the better, because gaslighting can be very subtle and hard to pinpoint.
- Jealousy, we’ve all felt it - but how much jealousy is crossing the line? If it feels unreasonable, and is hard to justify, then it’s probably a tactic to make you cut ties with people in your life or isolate you, which could be indicative of an abusive relationship.
- Conditional affection is never a good sign, if your partner is making threats (however big or small), then they’re trying to manipulate you into doing what they want.
- Coercion - please know what this is! This is the use of force or threats to ‘convince’ someone to do something. In a relationship, this could manifest as a threat to leave/break up, a threat of financial nature, a threat to your physical wellbeing, etc.
- Finally, if your partner is attempting to micromanage every aspect of your day to day, it shows that they are controlling, and do not respect you as your own entity. This is not the kind of person you want near, especially not in your love life. This could be something like obsessive calling or texting when they aren’t physically present, or trying to tell you where you can or can’t go, or who to see.
An important question to ask yourself is: are they a positive force in your life, or are you there because you don’t see a way out or any other options? Dating can be a substantial part of your life, and if that sector of your life is toxic or abusive, it could have long-lasting repercussions such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and even PTSD. It’s important to take care of yourself and be careful of who you hold close - the main function of these people should be to uplift and support you, not drag you down and chip away at your being. It’s important to stop and reflect every now and then, and if you think you might be in an abusive relationship, reaching out for help is a good idea. Here are a few resources for U.S. residents that might be helpful (for international information and hotlines, feel free to reach out and I can help investigate options!):
National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Text LOVEIS 1-866-331-9474
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Toll free phone 800-656-4673
CORA línea de apoyo gratis 24hrs|Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA) Hotline
Call 800-300-1080 (Ayuda disponible en español | Help available in Spanish)
Quizzes from loveisrespect.org