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Subtle, and Not So Subtle Red Flags

  1. The relationship seems to be developing at warp speed and while the intensity may seem exciting, if you really step back to think about it, it does not quite make sense. Often times, unhealthy relationships start out too quickly and this should give you pause to consider how whether you are setting the foundation for a healthy relationship dynamic.
  2. They want to spend all their time with you and ignore boundaries you try to set. At the other extreme, they may always put their friends and interests ahead of you. The bottom line is that time spent in a relationship should be mutually negotiated and it can be very unhealthy if you find your partner wanting to call all the shots.
  3. It is great if your partner can encourage you to grow and evolve as an individual but if you notice them consistently pointing out areas for you to improve, this may be crossing a line into an unhealthy dynamic. You and your partner ideally will respect and treat each other as equals.
  4. They say that they love you more than anyone they have previously dated and as a result, they treat you better. If someone outright tells you that they have treated others poorly in past relationships and/or indicate a lack of remorse for such behavior, brushing it off as a sign that you are somehow special because you have brought out the sweet version of them. Listen to what people tell you. If someone has a pattern of mistreating people, chances are, you will not be the exception.
  5. They focus on talking about you at the exclusion of talking about themselves. There could be many other reasons why someone may be resistant to talking about themselves, but if they seem to get visibly uncomfortable anytime you ask a personal question and you see their eyes dart around or them start to engage in another nervous habit like cuticle picking, nail biting, or clenching their mouth closed, this could be a tell that they are lying and might be mal-intentioned in their behavior.
  6. They try to isolate you from your friends and family and from doing things that are important to you under the guise that they just love you so much that they want to spend every minute together.
  7. They idealize you. If your partner consistently puts you on a pedestal and indicates that you can do no wrong, this can be quite unhealthy. It indicates a style of extreme, all or nothing thinking. The flip side of this idealization is devaluing you, and if you’re being idealized, eventually you will have a fall from grace.

If you find that some of this is happening in your relationship, it does not necessarily mean that it is time to break up. People come into relationships with their own histories and sometimes part of that history has led to the development of unhealthy behaviors. You may consider having a conversation with your partner about what you notice happening and see if they are able to take in your feedback. It would be a great sign if they have some insight into their behavior as unhealthy and are willing to change. Couples therapy is a great resource and should be able to help you sort out whether the relationship is salvageable or not.