Newsflash: Dating relationships aren’t always butterflies and roses. *gasp!*
No relationship is ‘perfect‘, but a relationship can and SHOULD be healthy. Sure, everyone hits bumps along the road, but if you ignore these ‘RED FLAGS‘, you might find yourself veering off the road and over a cliff!
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them” -Maya Angalou
Keep your eyes wide open. Are you settling for a toxic relationship?
How many of these red flags do you recognize?
1.) Your values don’t align
No one agrees on ‘everything’. Two individuals are bound to have individual perspectives. But what are your essential values? What are his/her essential values? You might not see eye-to-eye on every topic, but if your overarching values and beliefs are in conflict, that is a serious issue. (For example, if you feel convicted to wait until after marriage to have sex, but your partner expects sex in the relationship, there will be a constant struggle. The struggle will end in compromise, bitterness, and/or a breakup.)
2.) People who love you tell you “it’s a bad idea”
Your life choices as an adult are between you and God. I don’t believe that you should date someone JUST because people tell you to, or break up with someone JUST because people tell you to, but I DO believe that it’s wise to listen to trusted advisors and friends.
If close family and friends (who have your best interests in mind) are showing a pattern of pulling you aside to gently explain why this relationship is damaging, hear them out. They aren’t blinded by infatuation, so chances are they see something you don’t see yet.
3.) You’re “walking on eggshells”
Are you afraid to share your true thoughts and explain your perspectives? Do you worry constantly when he’ll explode next? Are you terrified to say something that might rub her the wrong way? Stop, drop, and roll right out of those flames. Fear consumes joy faster than a wildfire withers up dry grass. If ‘perfect love casts out fear'(1 Jn. 4:18) , and you are experiencing high levels of fear in your relationship, that is a clear sign of the absence of true love.
4.) Lies and/or keeping secrets
Love ‘rejoices with the truth’ (1 Cor. 13:6). When truth is absent, your relationship will inevitably spiral into a deeply unhealthy perspective of reality. If you can’t build your relationship on a foundation of honesty and transparency, it’s important to ask yourself: why are you with this person?
Or, if he/she feels the need to lie to you, why would you trust this person?
Can you really trust someone with your heart and your future if you can’t even trust them with their own words?
(Side note- the absence of truth and transparency is also toxic when relating to other people outside of your relationship. Ask yourself: Do you feel the need to hide your relationship from others? This is also a huge red flag. This type of secrecy is toxic, and will cause all sorts of problems down the road. If you feel trapped into hiding the truth, that should raise some tough questions about whether or not this relationship is healthy to begin with.)
5.) Aggressive behavior
I used to think of aggressive behavior in a relationship in terms of ‘extremes’. After all, if I didn’t have a black eye, or wasn’t physically harmed, everything was cool, right? Wrong. If your significant other frequently raises his/her voice, or even damages property/possessions in anger, that’s a huge red flag. Please please don’t skim over this: You are worth respect, and you should feel cherished and protected, never afraid. When he breaks things, or is abusive with his words, you need to realize that he is only one small step away from taking out that aggression on you in a more physical way. Aggressive behavior at ANY level should be taken dead-seriously. Anger issues need to be dealt with and processed in a healthy way BEFORE entering into an intimate relationship with another person’s heart.
6.) Authority issues
Take a look at how your significant other views/behaves towards figures of authority. Of course, submission to authority should only take place if the authority isn’t demanding you do something that violates your conscience. But, overall, does this person hold animosity towards people who are in positions of authority in his life? Is he disrespectful towards his elders? Does she have issues with respecting her parents? Does he have a tough time holding a job? Keep your eyes wide open to these signals.
7.) Unwilling to learn
One of the greatest signs of maturity is teachability. You know the stereotype about teenagers in a ‘rebellious’ phase who think they know it all? Well, there are plenty of adults who sadly have yet to grow out of that phase. Without a tender heart and a teachable spirit, you’re in for a long and bumpy relational road! A healthy relationship involves two people who are constantly learning about one another and growing closer to the Lord and to each other. That level of intimacy and growth is extremely difficult when you’re with someone who isn’t teachable.
8.) Addiction issues
Addiction issues are not only harmful to the person with the addiction, but also to those closest to him/her. Whatever form it takes- drug abuse, alcoholism, pornography, etc.- an addiction will be a constant relational struggle in knowing that your significant other is displaying a pattern of choosing something or someone other than you. This pattern is a one-way ticket to shame, betrayal, and unfaithfulness. Of course there is freedom in Christ from these harmful patterns, but the road isn’t easy, painless, or quick.
Is addiction an active struggle in your life, or in the life of your significant other?
9.) Alienation from your friends/family
One of the biggest signs of an emotionally abusive relationship is alienation from the people closest to you. Is your significant other posing a roadblock to your social health? Do you often feel a sense of guilt after you spend time with anyone other than your boyfriend/girlfriend?
10.) Unsupportive of your dreams
Your dreams matter. Your goals matter. If someone truly loves you, they will find ways to pursue your dreams together in cooperation and compatibility. Do you find yourself sacrificing everything you are passionate about in order to be in a relationship? If you answer ‘yes’, then chances are, you are in the wrong relationship.
Author Stephen Chbosky put it so well when he said:
“we accept the love we think we deserve.”
If you are finding yourself feeling uncomfortable reading this list, if you resonate with any of these red flags, please resist the temptation to brush it all under the rug and move forward without asking yourself some tough questions.
Letting go of a toxic dating relationship is NEVER easy, but it is ALWAYS worth it.
If you have any other red flags to share, or need someone to talk to, please comment below or send me a message and I would be so happy to hear from you! God bless you always.