All too often, red flags are ignored or denied instead of being put to good use. When properly heeded, red flags can offer as much opportunity as they do warning. Choosing to confront and resolve these common relationship red flags provides vital opportunities for developing the interpersonal skills essential to building and maintaining healthy, satisfying relationships.
Immediately All About You
Love at first sight and whirlwind courtships are the stuff of fairy tales and romance novels. True intimacy develops over time. Pressure to quickly move to an exclusive relationship should be seen as a red flag, according to the Utah State University Extension. This pattern of behavior is recognized as an "early warning sign" of the potential for a future abusive relationship, warns family violence expert Dr. Steven Stosny.
Extreme Jealousy, Double Standards
Intense jealousy is the classic mark of an abusive partner. Some people misinterpret jealousy and possessiveness as being signs of love, explains marriage and family therapist Susan Hartman Brenizer. Extreme jealousy is also often accompanied by double standards of behavior, another red flag. One partner may be expected to follow a set rules that the other doesn't adhere to, such as not having friends of the opposite sex or not staying out all night.
Gender Attitudes and Control
Firm belief in strict, hierarchical gender roles with the expectation of male dominance and female submission is associated with a higher risk of future domestic abuse, according to the World Health Organization. The National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence points to negative beliefs about women as a group as another risk factor. Expressions of a general distrust of women, statements describing most or all women in derogatory terms, and speaking of women as being intellectually or morally inferior are red flag worthy negative beliefs. These sorts of gender attitudes are often used to justify controlling behavior, another red flag. Controlling behavior includes keeping a tight rein on household money, isolating a partner from family and friends, and dominating a partner's personal choices, such as what to wear or whether to work or go to school, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Abuse, Violence During Childhood
Another important relationship red flag is ongoing exposure to abuse or violence during childhood. Experiencing abuse as a child and seeing incidents of domestic violence occur between parents while growing up are associated with a higher risk of family violence as an adult, according to the World Health Organization. The National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence describes witnessing family violence during childhood as “the most common risk factor” for becoming an abuser. Growing up in a climate of violence can result in a lack of the social skills necessary to build healthy relationships and manage conflict in productive ways. It can lead to an acceptance of intimidation and violence as legitimate tools for managing relationships and resolving conflict.
- Red Flag Relationships: The Ultimate Red Flags You Should Know; Debra S Cole Med Lpc
- Utah State University Extension: What Are Some Red Flags That Warn of a Potentially Dangerous Relationship?
- Syracuse.com: How to Identify a Verbally/Psychologically Abusive Relationship
- Psychology Today: Are You Dating an Abuser?
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Warning Signs and Red Flags
- World Health Organization: Violence Against Women
- National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence: Spouse/Partner Abuse Information
- Fox News Magazine: Dating Red Flags: 7 Signs That You Need to R-U-N!
- World Health Organization: Violence Prevention, The Evidence
- PLOS One: Risk Factors for Men’s Lifetime Perpetration of Physical Violence against Intimate Partners: Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) in Eight Countries