From a very young age, we are created to form connections with our caregivers and other people around us. Connection is a basic human need and that is why relationships are such a big part of our lives. No man is an island – indeed, connection provides us with the essential feelings of belonging, feelings of safety and security, feeling of being loved.
Unfortunately, while some relationships are like gold, very precious and very important to hold onto them, other relationships can be toxic and detrimental for our mental health. A lot of people think that people get themselves into toxic relationships, because somehow, they couldn’t see this quality in the relationship earlier on.
For the most part, this is a misconception. From the very start of the relationship, people start showing us who they are and what they expect out of a relationship with you. If from the start, there are things that you find uncomfortable or unacceptable, make sure to speak up and not put it under the rug, with the hopes that this will change later.
Instead of speaking up, some people end up accepting red flags as a part of the relationship instead of the that they are. Having said that, some red flags can be unrecognisable at first, which is why some people get themselves involved in the first place, while other red flags can take time to present themselves. These red flags can be present in any kind of relationship – this doesn’t refer to simply intimate relationships, but family, friends and colleague relationships as well.
What are some red flags?
Red flags refer to the warning signs that may indicate unhealthy or manipulative behaviour. They are a more serious issues than some other dating terms that are popular within Gen Z online dating culture, such as beige flags and even the annoying zombeing.
1. Controlling behaviour
While it’s normal to have differences of opinions in any relationship, it is not ok for one person to control the other due to their beliefs or insecurities. This may look like the person trying to control what you wear, who you talk to and where you go, which are not in your best interest. And even if they are, the final decision should always be yours and yours alone.
Trust is an important element in any healthy relationship. While it’s ok to have some doubts sometimes, these doubts can be discussed and explored within the relationship in a safe way. Ultimately, a healthy relationship requires trust from both sides.
3. Feeling down in the dumps
Relationships are meant to be supportive. Therefore, if you feel worse instead of better about yourself, when you’re with this person, that is an important warning. People who care and respect you should help build you up and not put you down.
4. Physical, emotional and mental abuse
None of these is ever acceptable in any relationship. No matter the reason. Maybe the person is going through a hard time. Tough luck. Still not an acceptable reason to abuse you in any way.
5. Lack of emotional regulation
Everyone gets angry, but not everyone gets angry in the same way. If you feel threatened or unsafe during an argument with this person, that is definitely a red flag. Dealing with conflict is an important part of any relationship, so one should feel safe dealing with any differences within that relationship. If the person uses anger as a form of intimidation, that is considered toxic behaviour.
Moreover, if a person demonstrates any kind of violence towards anyone really – is a serious red flag. The person is either lacking emotional regulation or this can indicate a lack of empathy for others.
6. Extreme jealousy
Feeling jealous is a natural emotion that everyone experiences at some point. It’s what we do with that jealousy that makes all the difference. If the person you have a relationship with is constantly jealous to the point that this person makes you feel guilty for having connections with others – that is toxic.
This is a form of emotional abuse – a manipulation tactic. The person makes you question your own judgment and makes you feel guilty even if you did nothing wrong. This is used as a way of controlling you.
Frequent lying makes it impossible to trust a person. So don’t. Don’t tell yourself that they are small lies or may seem unimportant lies. At the end, it’s a lie. Someday, it will get to a big lie. Don’t let it get that far.
9. Isolating you from family and friends
A person who is truly interested in your wellbeing, will also appreciate and support your support system. However, if this person is making you question the people you love and their intentions and because of that, creating a strain on your relationship with them, then that is definitely a red flag.
10. Love Bombing
This refers to the person engaging in excessive admiration and affection. This can make you feel amazing at first – I mean it’s a lot of attention and validation – who doesn’t want that? However, once the person gains your trust, the manipulation and abuse start. The person will suddenly start to belittle and control you. A person who engages in love bombing can sometimes be narcissistic or borderline personalities.
Is the relationship making you feel better?
I believe these are a few of the most important red flags that can be displayed in a relationship which we should never ignore. At the end, a simple question like ‘is this relationship making me happier? Better?’ can help you answer whether this is the right relationship for you.