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Ah, red flags.
I can write pages and pages about the things we tend to brush aside in our relationships. When we’re in love or really into someone, it’s easy to overlook red flags.
It’s easy to pretend that nothing’s wrong and that things will eventually work out, no? That’s the false hope that love sometimes plants in our little, flimsy hearts. To avoid the messiness of breakups and loneliness, we prefer to stay in relationships where something feels obviously uncanny.
Now our relationships aren’t perfect. Once the infatuation stage ends and the euphoria is gone, we welcome the ups and downs, and it becomes slightly challenging to accept our partner for who they are. Our own traumas come to the surface, and we become like a kid who’s fighting for validation and attention. However, with commitment, dedication, and kindness, we can perfect our imperfect relationships.
But we can never perfect red flags. We can’t fix them, mold them, or “Evanesco” them. Red flags are the inner alarms that just won’t shut off when we first meet someone and slowly get to know them. They’re the inner voice that keeps telling us that something is wrong, but we choose to turn a deaf ear.
Unfortunately, most times, we don’t trust ourselves. We choose to dismiss the red flags because we think we might be wrong. Well, if there’s one precious thing I have learned in all my previous and current relationships is that my intuition is never wrong.
Every single red flag I had seen was actually there. The fact that all my past relationships ended because of those red flags was painful, yet not surprising.
Relationship red flags are countless. Every person displays various behaviors, and your own experience could be entirely different than mine. However, for me, there are four red flags that are huge warning signs.
Please don’t take them lightly:
1. Not taking their past seriously. We are told that once we are in a new relationship, we should dismiss the past—put it behind us and forget that it has ever existed. I agree; we shouldn’t bring the past to our present moment. However, we shouldn’t entirely dismiss it.
What I’m trying to say is that someone’s past tells us a lot about them. People have patterns in their lives and they don’t easily change them. Trust me. I still remember the very first conversation I had with one of my ex-boyfriends who kept repeatedly cheating on me for years. He told me about his two failed marriages that ended because of his “foolish affairs.” Of course, I thought I would be the one to “change him.” (I clearly couldn’t.)
Another first conversation I had with another ex-boyfriend was about his emotional instability with women and how it was challenging for him to commit. Because the chemistry we had was so strong and utterly fascinating, I just couldn’t believe he would not commit to me. (He clearly didn’t.)
In both situations, the red flags were obvious: a cheating partner and an emotionally unavailable man. And although I strongly felt my inner voice telling me to back off, I foolishly moved forward because I thought I was “different.”
Never take someone’s past lightly. Their past is your lighthouse; let it guide you (and warn you).
2. Inconsistency. I believe that inconsistency is the easiest red flag we tend to overlook. There are thousands of reasons why someone could be inconsistent with us: work, family, sickness, “busy,” grief, mental health issues, and so on.
I dated and met many men who sent me mixed signals. It goes without saying that it was a major red flag for me, but sadly, I always lied to myself. I kept telling myself repeatedly that there must be something happening in his life that was keeping him busy. I endured months and sometimes years of inconsistency just because it felt stupid to leave or cut off contact for such a “stupid” reason.
Take it from me, folks: consistency is key to maintaining a healthy, good relationship. If things don’t get off on an amazing start, then the end won’t be amazing either.
3. Lying. At this point, I’ve lost count of the number of times I have overlooked this dangerous red flag. Let’s be clear from the very beginning: if they lie about small things, they will lie about big things.
Lying isn’t okay. Lying is a major red flag, and I can’t stress this enough. When someone lies to you, they’re laying out your dismal future for you. For me, a liar is even worse than an emotionally unavailable person: you can never tell what they’re up to.
Honesty and open communication about everything are fascinating virtues that are irreplaceable. When seeking a healthy relationship, we must seek someone who’s willing to be open about their life and emotions.
Don’t make the same mistake I did and think it’s a “small,” “irrelevant,” or “not-worth-discussing” lie. Everything is worth discussing.
4. My own unhappiness. We usually search for the red flags in other people and tend to dismiss our own. When it comes to our intimate relationships, our emotions are the biggest, best indicators that someone is right (or not) for us.
I stayed in many relationships that brought out the worst in me. I was careful about what the other person was showing me, but I never paid attention to my own inner signals. I was unhappy, dissatisfied, and wanted out, but I thought these feelings were temporary.
They were not. Those feelings were my intuition telling me that that person wasn’t for me and that relationship was going nowhere. Of course, I put my “silly thoughts” aside and forced myself to search for the silver lining.
If you’re constantly unhappy and looking (or wishing) for ways to leave, it means you want to leave, and darling, this is a huge red flag. Never underestimate your own emotions because they can guide you and make you understand your situation better.
Take a moment to consider all the things that your body and heart are telling you. They’re not lying to you, I promise.