Relationship red flags are persistent, problematic aspects of our relationship.
So what are relationship red flags?
Things which upset you time and time again, that infuriate and upset you, behaviours which your partner keeps on doing which undermine your relationship, this is a relationship red flag.
Here I will talk about 3 relationship red flags and what you can do to work through them with your partner.
The first one of Relationship red flags
You or your partner are unable to admit you/they were wrong or say sorry.
Not being able, or finding it difficult to say sorry isn’t only about pride and stubborn-ness, it suggests a much deeper problem. Some people refer to people who find it difficult to say ‘I was wrong’ or ‘sorry’ as non-apologists.
Non-apologists have a psychological barrier to expressing wrong-doing and offering apologies, they often can’t separate their behaviour from who they are as a person. They often feel if they made a mistake or did something wrong, then they must be a bad person, or in someway less worthy.
This can often be as a result of a deep rooted sense of life being unfair, either in the now or often the past. Children who didn’t have their emotional needs met, people who were/are bullied and children who had poor early attachment with their main caregiver in their formative years, often find saying sorry difficult.
We can help people to admit they were wrong and say sorry, by telling them that their ‘action or behaviour’ hurt us, rather than saying ‘you’ hurt me. This subtle shift is often enough for them to realise what they did was the problem and not them.
The second one of Relationship red flags
You or your partner bring up the past in every argument, putting the past behind you is difficult.
When we’re having a row or a disagreement we often get into the mindset of we have to win the fight. We often find ourselves out of rational control and we need to hurt the our partner, because they are hurting us.
It can become like a competition, the person we’re arguing with is no longer seen as our lover but an adversary and we must win at all costs, the gloves come off, words can be very damaging once they have left our lips.
People who are prone to not being able to move on from the past often were hurt long before the relationship they are in now. Its often those hurts which are dragged into the here and now.
An effective relationship tool is ‘time out’ at a calm and loving moment when things are going well, sit with your partner and talk about how upsetting it is for both of you when you fight and drag up the past hurts, see if you can both agree that once you both realise there is an issue, then you share it in a concise way and stick to the current issue.
If you could agree that you will both walk away for a few minutes and remember that resolution will make you both feel better, faster. You can read 5 relationship rescue tips here.
Many couples find my relationship check-ins really useful as a way to reduce relationship conflict.
The third one of Relationship red flags
You or your partner have an unhealthy jealousy, which damages your relationship and creates anxiety.
Jealousy stems from insecurity, maybe from our sense of self, or from being hurt, cheated on, lied to or disrespected in the past. We remember the pain associated with being hurt and the fear of it can be very powerful, that in itself can create problems where there aren’t any.
Even if our current partner hasn’t done anything to merit our jealousy, the fear of them doing something can be overwhelming. An irrationality can sweep over us and we can convince ourselves that our partner is unto no good.
If there is no evidence or history, or even if there is, stepping back and taking a break from the negative thought processes will help. Reframing, changing how we are thinking is the best way to snap out of those negative relationship destroying thoughts.
If your thoughts are creating anxiety, think what they are doing to your relationship. Try talking to your partner once you have changed the thinking and tell them how you are feeling when you feel calmer.
If it’s a persistent feeling, maybe working with someone who can help you with your insecurities could be a way to improve things for the longer term.
You can also contact relate.org.uk for relationship support.
Paul Parkin – online counsellor
13th April 2018