I have been a therapist for a long time and every time I see individuals or couples who come to counseling when the relationship is in trouble or the individual has a broken heart, I can’t help but feel sad and empathic with them. I often ask myself, there must be something that people could learn to help them protect, avoid or identify the not-so-good behaviors or “red flags” for themselves before the heartache and loneliness come to play.
There are so many people of all ages who enter into relationships each day and see, but chose not to acknowledge, that something is not quite right with “mister or miss right.” The warning signs or “red flags” staring them in the face, but they may chose to ignore them or find excuses to not see them.
Many people come to counseling to help them work on the hurt after the damage has been done.
Here are some of the red flags you must acknowledge and I highly encourage you start to run when you see them and don’t look back, run…run…..
Unfortunately however, many people who are single are under enormous pressure and the words “run away” are harder said than done. They are told to “find the right one,” but “don’t take your time, tick tock, make it quick”.
Well, like everything worth having, it must take time….time that many feel they do not have, they do see the problem, but may chose not acknowledge it because if they do, they will need to leave a guaranteed relationship, then to take the chance and risk not finding another person. So the blinders go on, the wedding magazines, wedding planners, and the hunt for the perfect wedding dress take over all logic and off to the chapel we go!
When I ask if they saw the problem behavior prior to the wedding? The responses I often hear is, “ I thought it was going to get better when we got married.”
There are several sizes of “red flags,” so if you see a “red flag” it does not mean you need to head for the hills, leaving the other person in your dust.
Let’s look at the different levels and what is a big red flag for you.
Through the years I have seen many of my clients in my career who are very intelligent, creative, successful and have a very good idea of what they need in a relationship, however, the small voice of “you could fix them” or “don’t be so picky you are not perfect either” will often lead the person to a world of hurt.
There are major red flags that you need to look at and then there are other flags that are smaller, which may not quite blocking clarity.
The Big Flags should be viewed with wisdom, and eyes wide open:
IF THEY ARE:
Controlling: They will often use guilt, threats of abandonment, threats of self-harm, yelling, physical aggression, isolation from family and friends.
Dishonest: Do you hear them lying, then justify or minimize it as a small “white lie”
Addiction Issues: Do they convince you and themselves that they are able to stop when they want?
Inability to apologies: They are unable to acknowledge or identify when they are wrong, however, they both demand and expect everyone else to consider their feelings and apologies to them. If they do apologies it is often not genuine just feels like a chore that needs to be done.
Unwilling to get help: They do not see how they are contributing factor to the problem; they only see that you have the problem that you need to fix.
Anger: They are unable to talk calmly, they hurt people, they only have two settings, anger or ignoring, when a situation is not going their way. Do they pout by refusing to talk to you for long periods of time?
Lack of self-control: Do they follow through on commitments, lack initiative, too much debt, impulsive spending and lack of control for his or her passion (shopping, social media)?
These are the “red flags” that cannot, and should never, be ignored because they will not change or be altered just because you both have wedding rings on or have been together for a long time.
The other red flags, that for some people, are deal breakers and to others they don’t even notice them:
Cutting their toenails in bed…. are you in or out?
Smack their lips when they eat…. are you in or out?
Hum when they eat …..are you in or out?
Take a bite or poke their figure in every piece of chocolate in the box to see if it is the flavor they like….. are you in or out?
Drink milk from the carton…… are you in or out?
Constantly lose or misplace their things……..are you in or out?
These are humorous to some and deal breakers for others. Which ever it is for you these are things that will not damage your heart, character or soul.
So take the time to ask yourself “Do I acknowledge the problem and maybe walk away or do I take the risk that it will get better!” that is the question.