Human beings are programmed to be in relationships. We are relational animals who create social circles around ourselves, and there is a primary drive towards coupledom. Those who are without an intimate other will form social bonds with other individuals which can be equally sustaining and affirming. Most of all we are looking for someone who is non-judgemental, non-critical and nurturing, who we can rely on and trust with our innermost thoughts.
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So when we meet someone who appears to meet all our needs and dreams, we fall in love. However love is a drug that makes us crazy, that prevents us seeing the truth of the person we have chosen, and blinds us to flaws that might be obvious to family and friends. This is a normal part of the first stage of any relationship: The Romantic Phase. We all ignore little habits that might later annoy us, or behavioural patterns which later become points of conflict. This is not a problem unless the person you have fallen in love with is a fundamental bad egg, or has such deep psychological problems that, in the long term, a relationship with them is impossible. In other words, it’s not your fault and you are not to blame for picking someone who turns out to be a cheat, a crook or with a personality disorder.
I have many clients who say, ‘Whats wrong with me that I chose them’, or ‘How could I have been so stupid’, and blame themselves when picking it would have taken much hard-earned experience or a caution that would not make them the open human being that they are. It’s no good to think that you can develop walls that will protect you against people who turn out to be bad – they would also prevent you from meeting someone else. And it’s no good beating yourself up afterwards – it is extremely hard to spot the bad ones when they are determined to have you fall in love with them.
However there are a few things that can throw up some red flags. It doesn’t mean that if any of these exist your partner is bad and you should get out as soon as possible, but if several of them exist then you should be talking to friends and listening to their advice.
If your new partner is reluctant to be open about their past or details of their life now, or asks you to hold some facts as secrets from your circle of friends, be cautious.
2. Doesn’t want to introduce you to family
Once the relationship is established, after the first few weeks or months, it is normal to want to introduce your new love to family and friends. This is the first stage of fully integrating them into your life. However if you new partner is reluctant, or denies that they have any family or friends, be cautious.
3. They want you to change
If they are explicitly critical or there is implied criticism in their comments and they want you to change, be cautious.
4. If they never have any cash or ask to borrow money
Be cautious. Especially if they say that you taking the bigger financial load would be a sign of your love.
5. They don’t trust you
Constant phone calls, demands on your time, and jealous fits are NOT signs of love. If they don’t trust you or accuse you of lying, if they open your mail or show up at work unexpectedly, be cautious.
6. Your partner puts you down, in private or in front of others
If they call you names, ridicules your thoughts or opinions, makes you feel stupid or ugly, be cautious.
7. You don’t feel like an equal partner in your relationship
Are you submissive and subservient, or afraid of telling them what you really think or feel? Do they make all the decisions – be cautious.
8. You don’t have the same long or short-term goals
If you can’t agree of financial issues or goals for your future, or fundamentally disagree on political stances, be cautious. Nobody has exactly the same plans as their spouse, and not having the same goals isn’t necessarily a sign of a bad relationship, but you either need to align towards the same goals or accept that you’re going in two different directions.
9. They say they love you, but don’t act like they love you
Maybe they say that they love and miss you, but find they can only see you once a week. Maybe they don’t text of call yet spend time with friends or at work than with you. Believe their non-verbal behaviour (actions) over their verbal behaviour (talk is cheap). Don’t believe what they say, believe what they do. Be cautious.
In a good relationship you feel deeply, almost instinctively sure of your partner without having to ask or seek approval. If you feel accepted, loved and secure then the relationship is on-course. But if a little voice inside is saying that something is ‘off’, this is your instinct and you should listen to it. Calling it off takes courage but its better done sooner rather than later. Your desire to be in a relationship should not be bigger than your desire to be safe, respected and happy.
Searching for how you can re-spark your relationship? RescuMe Academy’s online learning course, Reignite Your Relationship with Relationship Therapist, Annie Gurton will teach you everything you need to know, and with dialogues and worksheets you can use at home to recreate the love between you and your partner.
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