Is Your Relationship Healthy? 12 Important Red Flags

So you’ve met someone you like. Perhaps you met them online and are considering your next steps. But how can you know whether they are healthy relationship material?

An easy rule of thumb is to rely on the power of time. It may be easy for a person to recite flowery words and carry on as if feelings are mutual in the short term. However, it is difficult to continue a facade beyond 3 months. At some point, a disagreement or stressful event will apply pressure to the facade, causing it to crack and give way to their true personality.

Also, be mindful of reactions and behaviors that don’t “feel” right. For example, when something occurs that an average person would consider to be positive or exciting (e.g., finally meeting in person), does your partner show mutual excitement, or do they seem oddly “cool” about it? Are they reluctant to meet in person? Are they evasive when you ask questions about important aspects of their lives?

Using a mindful approach to navigate the world of modern dating is not about judging and avoiding bad people, per se. It is more about observing the signs of healthy and unhealthy situations and deciding whether you wish to proceed. I have compiled a list of serious red flags that can help you determine whether you are dealing with a manipulative or otherwise unhealthy partner (e.g., emotional and/or narcissistic abuse).

  1. Your partner is overly sensitive or tends to interpret neutral statements negatively. Even after you have painstakingly explained your intentions and meaning, they insist on maintaining their negative interpretation of what was said.
  2. Interactions have been generally positive, and the relationship appears to be going well. You later learn your partner has been keeping a running tab of (perceived or real) slights and wrongdoings from day one.
  3. Your partner is highly critical of a habit or aspect of your personality. They magnify it to such a level that you feel the need to change who you are to make the relationship work.
  4. Your partner assesses your character in ways no one else would. For example, if you are known as a giving, compassionate person, a manipulative partner may attempt to make you believe you are instead selfish with ulterior motives. This is known as gaslighting.
  5. Your partner lacks self-awareness. They cannot accept blame or admit mistakes. A suggestion that they may have handled a situation wrong may trigger extreme anger, the “silent treatment,” and/or blatant refusal to discuss and resolve the problem.
  6. Your partner has unreasonable reactions to reasonable statements and requests. Instead of simply saying they disagree or cannot comply, they attempt to make you feel guilty for bringing it up.
  7. Your partner dismisses your needs within the relationship. Their needs are important while yours are trivial or deemed as character flaws (e.g., you’re “too” needy, sensitive, demanding, selfish, etc.). This shows your partner is not willing or able to meet the needs of a healthy, reciprocal relationship.
  8. Your partner is unwilling to provide full disclosure about other aspects of their life. For example, you don’t understand what they do for a living or know little about their life outside of you. It is impossible to learn about a prospective partner when they are not willing to be transparent. If they believe you don’t need to know the “what,” “when,” “how,” and “why” of their activities, it is likely a serious red flag.
  9. During disagreements, your partner becomes angry and demeaning and strays from the original issue. Healthy, mature relationships can withstand disagreements without the partners becoming defensive and launching counterattacks.
  10. Your partner has immature, unrealistic expectations about the way relationships work. For example, if they believe things should “magically” work out as they do in movies and books, or are “just meant to be” (i.e., destiny or fate), they may not have a realistic understanding of the true give and take required to make relationships work for the long-term.
  11. Your partner attempts to control you by convincing you to set aside your needs and values for the sake of the relationship. They make one-sided decisions about what is “best for us” and disregard your right to contribute to those decisions.
  12. Your partner advises you to disregard your analysis of what is happening. Instead, they encourage you to “just go with the flow.” Going with the flow has its place. But you are right to ask for answers when things don’t add up.

These issues can occur in any relationship, whether they begin online or traditionally. But becoming more aware of these and other unhealthy signs can help you make better decisions sooner than you would if you were not aware.

Finally, never lose touch with your sense of inner power. Genuine love and respect will never require you to diminish who you are, nor will it require you to hand over your power to another person.

*Image: Ba Tik

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