Relationship Red Flags (Life Lessons - Part7)
Signs of Toxic Relationships
Want to read the other parts? Find them on my Blog!
I have spent my fair of time in toxic relationships. What about you? They wear you down a little bit at the time, sometimes without you ever even knowing. If you let them, they will take your heart and turn it into an icebox then shatter it into a million pieces.
Why do we allow toxic people into our lives? We all want to be happy, and we all want to be accepted and loved, and this is where we find the conflict of interest. We spend so much time wanting these things that we forego paying any attention to the signs and flags that come into our view. What are these signs and flags?
The Subtle Signs
Before we ever come in contact with the red flags, we have these subtle signs. They are like red flags, but just smaller - Mario before he eats the mushroom if you will. It’s challenging to be mindful of these signs, especially if we don’t have much experience with them. So, it’s not uncommon for these signs to plunge into more significant problems.
Lack of Presence
Our presence – our time is the most valuable thing we have to give in this world. When we choose to give it to someone, we are forgoing our ability to provide it to anybody or anything else. When we are around people, spending time, there should be a focus on the quality of this time.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant nights out, romantic sunsets on the beach, or even a dinner date. Your SO, however, should be paying attention to you. To have someone who looks at you for who you really are is a special thing that says more than any words could.
Lack of Eye Contact
If you stare at them, and they cower – YOU HAVE ASSERTED DOMINANCE!
Oh, wrong post? Oops.
Eye contact can convey what words can’t. This follows the previous point and the quality of the time that your SO is giving you. When you talk, you should be able to meet their eyes and communicate with more than just words. It’s not just about listening and being present, but respect as well.
Though you don’t need to talk about the likes of Plato and Socrates, you have to be able to find something that’s on a deeper level than just surface conversation. It’s all about a connection, and if you lack it, the relationship may be coming to an end.
Are they there with you? Do they really say I love you? Are you talking with their heart or the manipulations of their ego?
Projection of Perfection
Perfect? *scoffs* Bi*ch I might be. What’s the problem here?
This is yet another nuanced sign that can be hard to decipher. It can be split into two different ways of thinking.
The first – the healthy version of ‘perfection projection.’ This is a fundamental trait of unconditional love. It’s when you KNOW the person's faults and imperfections and accepts them to be loved.
The second is the unhealthy version – when someone looks at you with those puppy dog eyes like you fart rainbows and spin twine into gold. They hold the belief that you can’t do anything wrong. But guess what? You can do wrong, and you will! Maintaining this unrealistic standard leads to inauthentic affection and the base for arguments in the future.
The Relationship Red Flags
RED FLAGS! Turn back now. Go to jail, do not collect $200 if you pass go, and give up your turn until you roll a pair. Red Flags are wrongfully named. They are red flags when you know what you’re looking for, but they don’t mean squat if you are still learning the lessons of relationships. We will often overlook them to find the human connection we desire.
Abuse and Justification
Abuse comes in two forms: emotional and physical. My rule for abuse typically comes in with this one statement: “They do this, but…” Do you know what that ellipses usually means? “They are pushing my boundaries, and I’m allowing them. They don’t respect me, and they continue to hurt me.” But we don’t understand that consciously at the moment.
It’s not your fault – it never is. But the implication is there. It takes a lot of willpower to pull yourself from the grips of emotional abuse. It’s hard to clarify and even harder to debate to those who’ve never experienced it. It’s subtle and hard to pin down.
There is so much that can be written on this topic alone that I will save it for another post…
Lack of Respect
Respect is a cornerstone in any relationship, platonic or romantic. Name-calling and unjustifiable actions both border the lines of abuse. Guilt trips, manipulation, and hurtful name-calling, just to name a few.
The hardest thing about respect is that you have to respect yourself to really understand and do something about someone who disrespects you. This, by no means, justifies the behavior, but it does allow disrespect to continue longer than it should.
Then, once you find your respect and refuse to be beaten down, it’s common for the other person to retaliate, to make you seem like the bad guy. Again, another form of emotional abuse…There will definitely be an article for that in the future.
Communication and Invalidation
Communication is another cornerstone of relationships. Without it, it’s impossible to stay on the same page and ensure that the two of you are taking care of each other.
We can speak and never be heard, so we must ensure…
**"Survivor" by Destiny’s Child comes on at the perfect moment on your throwback playlist**
…We must ensure that we are truly being listened to. If somebody hurts you, they can't tell you that they didn’t.
Our feelings and emotions are a crucial part of us, and we have to find a way to regulate them. Someone who invalidates how you feel is not helping you in that process.
Trust Issues, Controlling
Trust, the third cornerstone of relationships, is essential. It deters controlling behaviors, boundary issues, and unnecessary envy. To have someone questioning your every move is draining in and of itself – add the consistent arguments because you talked to a stranger? And you have a hefty weight on your shoulders.
In my 6 year tenure as ‘Red Flag Ignorer,’ I personally found this one to be the most draining. It was the one that made me close up the most because, at the end of the day, it caused me to stop trusting myself.
YOUR GUT!!! When you are in a bad relationship, chances are your gut will sound the sirens long before your brain makes sense of it.
Remember, when I said that I found the lack of trust to be the most draining part of a toxic relationship because you stop trusting yourself? Well, this is why. It causes you to start questioning yourself. These questions turn into fighting yourself every day. The gap between what you need and what you have begins to grow at ever faster rates. So, trust yourself to make the right decision. The freedom you feel from in heart is worth it.
Until Next Time,