Identifying unhealthy or even dangerous patterns can empower us when dating.
- The need to normalize unhealthy behaviors is something that can make it difficult for trauma survivors when identifying red flags in potential dating partners.
- The more you know about the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, the better your chances for finding love that lasts.
- Trauma survivors need to be empowered so they can identify the red flags and take a step away from any situation that may be harmful or dangerous. This will empower the survivor to find a relationship that feels safe and supportive.
Imagine being in a toxic relationship with someone who you know is not good for your mental health. You have these warning signs but don’t believe they apply to you because of some past experience, right? Well, this article will help explain what those relationship red flags might actually mean.
Red flags are a necessary alarm system for trauma survivors when they branch back out into dating. Many may not know how to filter out unhealthy behaviors due to history or normalizing their abuse and denying it occurred at all.
These are five deal breaker red flags in a relationship we commonly see from people who experienced trauma tend to normalize:
Past Relationships Ex-partner Bashing
As you might have guessed, this is a huge banner of a red flag. If your new dating partner is talking negatively about others from the very beginning then there’s something wrong! It shows an enormous lack of respect for the people in his or her life and it speaks volumes as to how they will treat other relationships moving forward. This is a serious red flag in a new relationship partner behavior.
Hearts get broken and resentment builds. But this could be an indication of how they’ll behave in future relationships! It ultimately reflects upon their integrity and there may eventually be some major regret when it comes time to reflect back later down the road.
In our work with clients who experienced emotional abuse and domestic violence, we discuss the best way to approach their traumatic history with a new partner, who will undoubtedly need to know about their past if the relationship is going to move forward.
It’s an important matter of conversation, but it can be tricky and involve delicate negotiations about what you’re going to say or how to approach the subject in order for the other person to not feel overwhelmed during this process. In most cases where trauma or controlling behavior has been experienced before meeting someone – such as physical abuse at home or sexual assault on the street- then there needs careful planning because these things don’t just disappear overnight. This includes discussing how the person should approach their traumatic history in order for this relationship not only to work out well but also be successful in the long term.
It’s important that you communicate effectively with your partner about any past abuse or neglect so it doesn’t affect future interactions between these two parties- after all, we’re here because something bad happened! We’ll listen empathetically while helping brainstorm ideas on what might best suit each individual situation.
When mentioning a concern or issue, it’s important to do so in the right way. We should never maliciously bash anyone. When there are concerns that deserve attention we want to acknowledge them. Use phrases such as “Things didn’t go well with my ex. Let’s save that conversation for later.” Another phrase would be “I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences. As we get to know each other I can fill you in.” From an outsider’s perspective this phrase is informative while not going into details or attacking your ex.
We understand that some people have trouble moving on after a bad breakup or difficult relationship with toxic behavior. This is because some people are not able to process their emotions in an appropriate way, and they are still dwelling over how their ex treated them or how their ex could have been better.
At best, the person is not emotionally available because they are not over their past partner. If they do this towards others then you, your friends, or family members may become one of those who they focus their negative energy on.
“Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” = Red Flag
As a dating coach, I have seen many people struggle to communicate effectively with their partners. This is important to mention because we all have varying comfort levels with communication. Remember that communication is a two-way street. This is something you will want to pay attention to because these are common red flags to look out for. As a heads up, it is possible the new person struggles in social situations or is just getting back into the dating scene. A nervous person should not be taken as a warning sign.
When there are pauses in the conversation do they seem uncomfortable and talk to fill the silence? Do they just listen without participating in the conversation? When you attempt to interject do they allow you to talk? Do they show interest in what you have to say?
A person who lacks respect only talks about themselves and it usually shows they are not capable of connecting at an emotional level. They are not able or willing to give you an equal amount of attention that you give them. Either way, it is not a good start to building a relationship and you should steer clear.
Red Flag On The Play
A client I worked with met a guy on a popular dating app whom she had been texting with for a few days. Based on her descriptions I warned her of some yellow flags I saw. But, she finally agreed to go out with him. On the ride to their destination, he constantly talked about his job and how his boss was incompetent.
Fast forward forty-five minutes later and they pull up to a large building with lots of cars. She thought it was a fancy restaurant and she’s underdressed for the occasion. They get inside and she immediately sees a coffin and people dressed in all black. Nothing says romantic first date than your uncle’s funeral.
The next day the guy texts asking why she left so early. Needless to say there wasn’t a second date.
Making decisions without you.
Compromise and communication are seemingly mild to some people but they are hallmarks of healthy relationships. How do you know if they’re unwilling to compromise on decisions or hear your views? In a relationship, communication is the key to success. Without it you will never be able to rectify the different opinions with your partner; they need to listen and respect what you want in order for both of your wants and desires to come true.
Communication is key when it comes to changing any aspect of your relationship with someone. If you feel like they are trying to force something on you or taking advantage, then this is not respecting the boundaries and trying to control the relationship that should exist between two consenting adults in an exclusive partnership. When you and your partner are communicating clearly about what is happening in the relationship, it can help prevent any violations of boundaries.
If you are to the point feeling insecure about talking to your partner and feel it’s best to spend time alone, you are not in a healthy relationship.
This goes for staying over at each other place, moving in, or any kind of sexual intimacy as well. If it feels like the request is out-of-bounds or you cannot decline: it is a boundary violation and a relationship red flag. Moving in, staying over, and intimacy does not have any set timeline. However, don’t let anyone take advantage of how much you care by making decisions about your life based on what is best suited only towards them.
Their sense of entitlement.
What is the mood like on a first date?
When meeting someone for the first time you can get a feeling of the kind of character you will be dealing with. Do they seem friendly when it’s just the two of you and then things get awkward when others are around?
How a person treats others is an important clue into how they view themselves and others. Staff at a business are paid to do things for others. If a person feels like they are above someone because they work in a position they believe is below their own social standing is very telling behavior. How someone treats those who can do essentially nothing for their position in life can be a major red flag.
If they are being kind and friendly towards you, but are rude and demeaning towards others then they are playing a role and not being genuine. The relationship red flags here are that their actions lacks integrity around those who earn an honest living.
A feeling of discomfort.
Trauma survivors often develop a coping mechanism to ignore or deny their reality, which was necessary for survival. They may have even become used to feeling that those who are supposed to love them will hurt them. They may become neglectful towards others in order to avoid being hurt as an emotional survival mechanism. This behavior can be normal for them and cause problems when dating later on down the road.
The question then becomes; how do you feel around the person you are with? Do you feel on edge, anxious, or unseen? Are you subjected to the silent treatment? This feeling you have can say a lot.
Then there is the opposite side of the coin. We all have flaws, but if someone presents themselves as being perfect in their social life then there might be some yellow flags to pay attention to. If someone is presenting themselves as perfect, they may be unable to notice or unwilling to acknowledge their own flaws, it’s a red flag.
Catch yourself when you start to feel that what someone is saying and their actions don’t add up. You’ll feel that what they do and say doesn’t make sense at all! Trust the intuition. When life feels like a tangled mess of truth mixed with lies and deceptions stop trying to figure out what is true or false.
There are many ways dysfunctional and potentially abusive behavior patterns can manifest in a budding relationship. The abuse and misuse of power in relationships is a constant factor. It’s important to be aware that every person can have an off day, but there are certain signs which mean you’re being abused or taken advantage of by someone else.
You want to look for patterns in the way they treat others and yourself. Just be careful to not misread a person who is nervous as one who is going to mistreat you. However, trying to explore different interests in a healthy way should never be an excuse for maltreatment and abuse. That is something that cannot be compromised.
Relationship Red Flags vs. A Healthy Relationship
It may seem unfair, but some people are just not good enough to deserve your time and energy. The problems they have are not yours to solve as the issues lie deep within those individuals. They need professional help to get a good intuitive image of themselves.
Don’t allow yourself to be put in those positions where your needs aren’t met or honored by the significant people around you.
It is much easier to get out of an emotionally toxic or abusive relationship early on before expectations are established and emotions have been invested.