If you’ve ever been in a relationship—whether it be platonic, romantic, or even professional—that, in retrospect, was unhealthy for one or both of you, then you know that there were glaring signs leading up to the breaking point that signaled “Let that person go!”
After being in a situation where ending a relationship spiraled into an array of harmful allegations and intimidations that spanned social media for over three months were directed to three of my family members and—at the worst of it—were claimed to be extended to a work client of mine, having to take out a harassment complaint to stop the bulk of these actions cemented what a terrible situation I had gotten both myself and my loved ones into…and the red flags I should have taken note of much earlier.
Here are four definitive red flags to pay attention to in any relationship:
1. They accelerate the relationship early.
While the term love bombing is most commonly used in reference to romantic relationships, the term can be applied to any type of relation between two people.
Key signs of love bombing include but aren’t limited to:
>> Pressuring you into rushing to cement the relationship or committing before knowing them fully (someone claiming to love you after less than a week together, for example).
>> Demanding time and attention at the detriment to your schedule.
>> Refusing to accept blame or responsibility for previous failed relationships.
>> Overloading you with compliments or flattery to the point of perceived inauthenticity.
>> Laying out your future together early.
>> Lavishing you with gifts or favors.
Love bombing, while flattering at first glance, will ring alarm bells for those who have experienced it. People who accelerate relationships without knowing you are more likely to not respect boundaries or become too easily attached to new people in general, which can lead you to becoming uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
2. They don’t take accountability for past failings.
Have you met someone who whenever they tell a story about a situation that hasn’t gone their way doesn’t seem to take any accountability?
What about those friends that they used to have in the past? Well, the reason they’re not friends anymore is because the other people involved are terrible—obviously. That promising career path they’ve been talking about for years but haven’t progressed in? It’s all other people’s fault that things haven’t gone their way.
Without fail, this person will consistently paint themselves as the victim in any given scenario. If you sense a pattern like this, it’s advised to take caution. Why? Because, more likely than not, once you’ve stepped out of line with this person, you’ll be the next name added to their blacklist.
3. They are generally uninterested in other people.
We all have known people like this—who, for the most part, only talk about themselves or consistently redirect conversations back to themselves at the earliest opportunity.
While they might ask you questions, you can oftentimes tell it’s out of obligation or surface social nicety rather than genuine interest. When you do talk a bit and answer a question they’ve asked, you can see their attention wandering. The conversation is never remembered or referenced later, and you may catch them only asking you reciprocal questions if you have gone silent in the conversation.
This lack of attentiveness is perhaps surprisingly largely attributed to being a deeply lonely person, which is why they are so fixated on sharing about themselves. This lack of social awareness stemming from loneliness can also extend to acts like chronically over-sharing, over-inflating themselves on social media, or finding themselves to be socially anxious in large groups where they cannot be the focus of conversation.
4. They rely on others emotionally and/or financially.
Being someone’s everything can sound flattering to some—before reality kicks in.
If you find that you are someone’s emotional, financial, or even social crutch, pay attention to signs that you may be feeling drained by this level of responsibility—especially if this is a new romantic partner, friend, or work peer.
Over-reliance often encompasses:
>> Consistently trauma dumping onto you.
>> Not being able to hold down a job and turning to you in lieu of this (or alternatively having lofty plans for the future that they are asking you to fund).
>> Always being in a perceived crisis.
>> Making you feel guilty for doing things for yourself (whether that be taking time for yourself or having friends separate from them).
>> Acting disparaging toward friends or family, only to invite them back into their lives when they’re needed.
>> Being reliant on you to remind them to do basic adult tasks.
>> Trying to move in too fast.
Catching yourself feeling drained by one or more of these actions is a sign that you may be being taken advantage of.
Have you experienced these relationship red flags?
Most people will experience at least one of these red flags during their lifetime. However, it’s important to examine your own actions as well.
When ending an unhealthy relationship, it’s crucial to ask yourself questions like: What boundaries could I have set better? What warning signs did I ignore with this person? How can I examine my own behavior to ensure that I’m the best version of myself for future relationships without sacrificing my own well-being? Which of these red flags did I showcase, and what can I do to not repeat those negative patterns toward people I care about?
If you notice multiple of these signs in any of your relationships, it’s time to take a step back. These problems don’t necessarily make someone a bad person; they’re likely just not a healthy person for you to be around until they work on these tendencies.
Take time out for yourself, reflect on the situation, and know that there are plenty of better experiences to come.