However, would you be able to recognize the other type of signs that your love interest might not be right for you or — at worst — might be a danger?
Recognize the red flags “There are obvious signs in relationships, such as abusive behavior, to watch for,” says Maricar Jenkins, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker with Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “This includes verbal, emotional and physical abuse. However, there are also other, less recognizable signs — or red flags — you should heed.”
These red flags may include:
- Your partner’s emotional reactions keep you from expressing your feelings or asking for what you need.
- Your partner is unwilling to accept feedback.
- Your partner does not take responsibility for their behavior, such as never apologizing when appropriate.
- Your partner is secretive, withholds information or blatantly lies.
- Your partner is overly critical of you and your behaviors.
- Your partner treats you with contempt — not only are they critical of your behaviors, they also criticize your character.
- Your partner is rude to strangers — over time, they will likely act the same to you, your family and friends.
“Pay attention to how this person makes you feel and how your relationship is influencing your behaviors and other relationships,” Jenkins says. “If the feelings are negative, this is your ‘gut’ — that intuitive sense we all have, but do not always listen to — telling you to get out. For many people, listening and honoring this intuition can take years.”
Jenkins recommends that you step back and ask yourself a few questions:
- Is there a recurring conflict over the same issues that never get resolved?
- Is your mood impacted such that you begin to feel hopeless and worthless?
- Are you becoming increasingly isolated from family and friends?
“If you feel unsure about what to do, write a list of pros and cons for staying in or leaving the relationship,” Jenkins says. “Once you make your decision, commit to it and set a deadline, if needed.”
While a breakup can be painful, Jenkins says the following steps can make the transition a little easier:
- Plan activities with other people that can be distracting — you might not necessarily enjoy yourself right away, but go anyway.
- Do not remain friends with your ex-partner. In fact, cease all contact — block phone numbers and stop following them, or allowing them to follow you, on social media.
- Be gentle with yourself — write a gratitude list, catch negative self-talk, and allow yourself time to mourn and heal.
- Spend a few minutes each night journaling your thoughts and feelings — avoid doing this just before going to bed and limit your journaling to 10 minutes.
- Get active — this helps release endorphins, which can trigger positive mental and physical feelings.
If you are experiencing abuse in your relationship, additional resources include The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE); and loveisrespect, a 24-hour resource for teens, 1-866-331-9474 (or text “LOVEIS” to 22522).