Have you ever heard of “red flags” before? People often talk about it a lot, but what does that term mean? Is it the same for everyone? Is it a reason why people consider their previous relationships - toxic? How do you even handle red flags? Can you identify them immediately?
All these questions start getting into your head and it's often difficult to identify red flags early in a relationship because we start looking at our boyfriend or girlfriend in rosé tinted or rose-colored glasses.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE “RED FLAGS”?
The color red has been used in a lot of contexts, such as the color of the heart (❤️) “love” and often “desire.” But most commonly red is used for stop signs and red flags that indicate “stop.”
I mean, if you were driving and the stoplight was on “red” or a stop sign, you would definitely stop.
In relationships, red flags are supposed to mean that the relationship has took a turn that might cause emotional damage for both of you.
Now red flags are often not noticeable, but some are rather very clear.
HOW TO IDENTIFY RED FLAGS?
Here’s the tricky part. Understanding red flags are one thing but knowing if the continuous action of your boyfriend or girlfriend is making your relationship difficult or toxic is already difficult to identify, especially when you’re in love that you disregard the hurt and keep focusing on the positive and change.
If your partner is displaying any of the noticeable red flags, it's definitely time to have a conversation with yourself and them, about your relationship and the future. While all scenarios and relationships are different there's always a similarity.
A red flag is an indication of a deep and probably recurring problem that the other person must address to most likely save the relationship, with you, with others, and with anyone else.
Here are a few noticeable red flags:
Displaying violent acts
I read a book by Colleen Hoover before, the title was “it ends with us” and it depicts physical abuse inside the household. Now when we read these kinds of stories, we think about why the character or person stayed when they had the option to flee and leave or why other people did not notice the bruises or some even believe that that person would never do such a thing- but we don’t know what happens inside the household.
I also thought that too, until I asked a friend of mine who had recently broken up with her physically abusive ex-boyfriend.
In her words, “it was difficult to leave when I had felt scared. Other than the constant threats, I always tried to understand his reason behind it when he would cry and apologize.” She stayed for months trying to protect herself and not get him angry.
She also mentioned that it wasn’t easy to just leave, because he’d know where she was. According to her, it felt like she was in prison.
When you’re already seeing aggressive behavior even if it wasn’t directed to you, it means that you have to re-evaluate your relationship because they haven’t developed a healthy way to channel their emotions or possibly choose violence because they believe it got them the things they want.
Persistent jealousy and distrust/ you = their whole world🌎
Getting jealous is quite normal, especially during the first few weeks of the relationship, but when it reaches a point where he would start getting jealous for no reason despite the constant assurance that he would start accusing you and making up stories about what happened.
It’s quite hard to share this since this is quite a personal experience, but my ex-boyfriend would usually get jealous at the weirdest things. He would get angry at me for not sending him updates on where I was, and who I was with, and even when I had to do group projects at school he would get jealous at any male classmates I was grouped with or who I sat beside with.
He would constantly assume and made stories about random strangers I sat beside with, or how my dad’s workmates would “take advantage” of me when I was at my dad’s office.
These assumptions, distrust, and constant jealous remarks made me cry in public places and had made me lose myself because he kept making me think it was my fault.
I do hope that none of you would ever experience this because it was honestly quite distressing.
It is rather sweet when you feel like you’re their whole world, but when their lives are revolving around yours to the point where you are isolating yourself from everyone else, that’s no longer healthy.
Stories of “crazy exes”
Talking about past relationships and old flames is quite common, especially about the beginning of your relationship or the “getting-to-know” stage.
It’s normal to hear crazy stories of exes, and honestly, there are some unbelievable stories too and some you can see on social media (because there are some people who are just that open about their relationships).
But there’s a certain tone and way when people talk about their exes, and some exaggerate to the point they think it’s believable.
I had my ex telling my friend that I was cheating on him after the breakup. His exact story was that I had been gone for over 4 hours with my other ex-boyfriend, but the funny thing was that I had gone out for coffee with my guy best friend, which he knew about. His reason behind making that story up was because I had not been able to message him during the 15 minutes I had been with my best friend because we were catching up at McDonald's.
He still labeled me as the crazy ex also because I stood my ground and started talking back when he would start accusing me of cheating or lying and would use these crazy stories on the internet about cheating and tell people that I did that.
On a side note, when he starts labeling his old exes as “crazy” and completely blaming them for the things they’ve done, try to focus on how they share the story or the language that they use when they explain their past.
Because honey, if your ex was mature and respected you he wouldn’t start making up stories or depict you as the “crazy” one in the story without taking responsibility on their own behavior in that past relationship then there’s a good chance you’d probably become their next “crazy ex”
“Once a cheater, always a cheater”
This is rather a touchy subject, like most girls I know who had their ex-boyfriends cheat on them, they still turned a blind eye and defended them.
Now I’m not saying that cheating is “okay” or that their actions are justifiable, but what I am saying is that the reason why my friends or girls I know didn’t end it with their ex-boyfriends is that - they loved them, they couldn’t believe that it happened, and/or that they believed that they could still change them.
If you are entering a relationship or in a relationship with a history of infidelity or cheating, it is best to proceed with caution, and really have a talk with yourself because sooner or later, knowing that history will haunt you which might also cause problems in your relationship or that it causes distrust in your partner.
I am not saying that they can’t change, since change is inevitable and some men will prove that they’ve changed while some continue infidelity because according to an old friend of mine, he found it exciting to sneak around and meet up, without considering the consequences.
With that said, you have to ask yourself if you are comfortable or feeling safe pursuing a relationship with someone who has a history of cheating before you take that leap.
“That’s too revealing, change into something else.”
“You’re not allowed to stay out late or I’ll lock you out.”
“Lose weight, you’re making me feel embarrassed.”
“Why are you talking to him?”
“You’re not allowed to go out with those friends, they’re a bad influence”
“Stop eating that, start eating salad.”
Sound familiar? Maybe not? Or maybe it was said in another way but these are examples of controlling behavior.
The thing with someone being controlling is that it can cause emotional damage, and you’d start losing confidence in yourself.
My ex would say all these kinds of things, and I couldn’t even talk to my guy best friends anymore because he would state that they were “flirting” with me when I’ve been friends with them for over 8 years (I get that some guys and girls don't like it when their partner is being friends with the opposite sex, and that’s a topic for next time).
But when you’re with your partner, you’re supposed to be who you are, not change things about you. A partner with green flags would flaunt you, be proud of you and work with you on your goals instead of pointing out every single bad thing about you and controlling the things you do.
My grandmother used to tell me to never look at a guy in awe when he starts being super attentive to everything you do because it’s an indication that he’s hiding something from you. Or that some guys like it when they’re controlling your every move (it’s different in sex - if you’re doing BDSM).
Someone who has a controlling nature may indicate that there are certain things that they need to work on, worse comes to worst when they can’t control you or things around you or them they might start getting violent.
Using “suicide” to prevent you from leaving
This is quite a critical topic to talk about and I’m about to share one of the most emotionally draining experiences that I’ve ever had.
I used to have this ex-boyfriend who would start fights and arguments with me in the middle of the day or late at night. He didn’t care if I was at school, or if I had been riding a bus or even walking home, but he would start telling me that I was having sex with another man, or that I am meeting with other men secretly.
Then our fights would then lead to me breaking up with him, and when he could no longer control me or manipulate me he would pull out the “suicide card”. At one point he told me that he is burying his body alive and that no one would find him, not even his family.
And of course, with the constant emotional manipulation, I stood down and believed him just because I was scared of being the reason why another person would end their life.
By all means, I hope you never have to go through what I went through and if you are currently at that point then please call the suicide hotline or the police or someone from his family and inform them that that is his plan to monitor him.
I know that there are people who actually go through with it and end their lives because their partner broke up with them, and all the more reason to have someone he or she knows to stay with them and look after them.
Note from the author:
Red flags are meant to be cautious for you, but if you do believe in your partner it is fine to give them a chance, but never let it reach the point where you are drained, manipulated, or losing yourself while trying to fix the relationship.
I used to believe that I deserved my relationship back and that I could never find anyone better (other than the constant manipulation that he mentioned that no one would ever love someone like me), but he was wrong because I found someone way better.
Someone who would cherish me and love me despite difficult times. There’s someone out there for you. Find someone who will take their time to court or date you, and someone who will love you likes how you want to be loved (but don't forget to reciprocate that love)
Also, there’s no rush in getting into another relationship, try to get to know yourself more. Know your red flags and green flags in a relationship.
Words: Jan of Life Sutra