• Lindsay

Overcoming an Addiction to Red Flags

We think they'll change. We want to be the one they change for, so we sit and we wait. We push and we pull until the battle gets too great and we start losing pieces of ourselves- little by little.

Red flags, by definition, are warning signs that your partner displays which demonstrate a lack of respect for you and for the relationship. If you find yourself seeing those red flags, but subsequently ignoring them, you might have an addiction to unhealthy relationships. Curbing the addiction requires some hard work in the self-worth department, along with the willpower to walk away when the red flags start to appear.

The Red Flag Challenge

Yes, you really can be addicted to red flags. You can even preach to others that you'd "never put up with that" or that you'd "walk away at the first sign of trouble", yet not actually follow through when push comes to shove in your own relationship. "It's easier said than done" couldn't be more true when it comes to unhealthy relationships.

That's because love has a tendency to blind us. We're taught that you need to fight for love (que Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield"). We see the red flags as a challenge, and you know what the best thing about a challenge is? Winning.

Unfortunately, winning a battle against red flags in a relationship isn't easy. You can beg and plead with your partner to change, but the only way lasting change is going to take place is if they want it for themselves. They have to take the initiative, and not just because they think they're going to lose you if they don't change.

RED to Curb the Red Flag Addiction

If you want to curb your addiction to red flags, practice the acronym RED:

Recognize the red flags

Evaluate whether or not your partner has a willingness to change

Determine if the relationship is salvageable

Recognize the Red Flags

When we're caught up in the initial honeymoon phase of a relationship, it can be difficult to recognize the red flags. It's important to know some of the most-common red flags before we enter into a relationship so they're easier to identify. Some common relationship red flags include:

  • Lack of communication (not texting back for long periods of time, your partner shutting down when you bring up your feelings)

  • Trust issues (feeling like you need to check their phone, staying in contact with an ex for a "backup")

  • Friends and family disapproval (sometimes a third party's perspective is just what we need)

  • Controlling behavior (telling you how to dress, who to hang out with)

  • Different long-term goals (it's only going to get harder as time goes on if your futures don't align)

  • Feeling like you need to change (a little change is okay, and even expected, but not at the expense of your true self)

  • Abusive behavior (abuse isn't always physical- sexual, verbal, mental, and financial abuse can be just as detrimental)

Evaluate Whether or Not Your Partner Has a Willingness to Change

Just because your partner is displaying red flags doesn't mean the relationship has to end. If you talk about your concerns with your partner and they refuse to even consider making changes, that's when you need to seriously consider walking away.

Change doesn't have to be immediate. It can happen slowly over time. Sometimes, it requires therapy and some deep soul-searching. The point is that your partner has to want to change for themselves, not just for you. They need to see why their behavior is problematic and want better for the both of you in order for real, lasting change to occur.

Determine if the Relationship is Salvageable

Sometimes, no matter how much work your partner does on themselves, the red flags are simply too big for the relationship to survive. This is especially true with major red flags like abusive behavior or misaligned future goals.

You can love a person but still know they aren't right for you. Separating now is better than waiting months or even years for the change that will never happen to occur. Taking the first step to walk away is always the hardest, but knowing that you've gone through the process of recognizing and trying to work on the red flags before parting ways can go a long way in accelerating the healing process.

Avoiding the Red Flags

A history of unhealthy relationships can lead to a fear of commitment. You've seen those red flags and experienced them firsthand, so there's no way you're going through that again. The problem is that this avoidant behavior can actually hold you back from finding love.

You have to remember that not everyone is your ex. Until your partner displays a red flag, there's no need for you to wave your white one. You can be open to love and still protect yourself from getting hurt.

Remember to practice RED whenever you have doubts. Keep your self-worth at the forefront of every relationship decision you make. You can overcome an addiction to red flags. You can have a healthy relationship. You just have to trust your gut instinct, listen to it, and walk away from the things that aren't serving your soul.

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