I’m well aware of the feeling. I had several go-nowhere relationships over the years where I convinced myself to just stay and give it a try when I was already 99% sure it wasn’t going to work out. At the time, I plodded along anyway, holding out hope that even though I saw the red flags flying, I could still MAYBE, SOMEHOW, make it work. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t know what red flags were there, it was that I was in complete denial of them. I was choosing to ignore the inevitable.
If you’re in that icky place where you think you should make a change but haven’t yet, maybe you’re fully stuck in head-in-sand mode like I was.
Here are six signs you have been ignoring red flags in your relationship:
1. That Nagging Feeling
In a quiet moment, evaluate how you feel deep down about your partner. Are you dying to commit further to this person? Or do you deep down feel like you should run?
It is so easy to know what you should do and not be getting it done. This is why we’re not all in super great shape, hang on to bad relationships and generally settle for less than we deserve. The problem is that if you have ignored your gut for so long, you can mistake your internal compass for fear, anger or boredom.
Here’s how to know if your gut feeling about your relationship is a genuine one:
Think back to the last time when you and your partner were truly happy together and you were enjoying yourself. Picture it vividly.
Now, do you still have a bad, nagging feeling about the relationship? If you come up still feeling like the relationship is wrong for you, it likely is.
2. Your Friends And Family Hate Your Mate
Do your friends try to cross the street when you bring your partner around? Have they tried to tell you that your relationship might not be a good idea? Are they just not present like they used to be? Can you tell they aren’t happy for you?
The fact that all of your friends hate your significant other is a strong sign of trouble. Let me be clear, I mean can’t stand, loathe, and/or have tried in to talk you out of continuing the relationship. I don’t mean that you have one or two friends or family members who aren’t sure about your partner. This is a normal variation.
I mean that unless every person you know happens to be mean spirited, your friends and family know you best, and can likely see your partner with less than rose-colored glasses.
3. Approval Seeking
Do you feel the need to encourage everyone you know to like your partner?
The concept that you have tried to create approval for your relationship in the other people who are important to you is what I’m getting at here. People who are feeling happy and confident about being in good relationships aren’t out there trying to convince others to like their partner. Like for your partner should come organically, without you trying to sell people on their positive attributes.
Ask yourself what is causing you to want to seek out other people’s approval for your partner.
4. Making Excuses To Justify Your Partner’s Behavior
Have you had to make excuses for your partner like she/he was tired, sick, angry, doesn’t like someone/something? Do you feel like you need to regularly apologize to others for your partner’s behavior?
Excuses are a big sign that you’re looking past glaring relationship red flags. You should be proud of your partner and the way that they handle things.
5. Love Is Your Only Reason For Staying
Usually this conversation with a client goes like this:
“Well s/he has all of these problems, they take drugs, don’t generate income, and is borderline (or over the line) abusive.”
“Why don’t you leave?” I say gently.
“Because I love them,” they say.
Love alone does not create a good relationship. You may love someone dearly, but if your life together doesn’t work or they don’t treat you well, it can still be the wrong relationship. Counseling and working on your relationship is well and good if you have a situation that you think you can get past. However, if all you’ve got is good ‘ole love, and everything else is in the toilet, you might want to rethink your future with this person.
6. Love Is NOT Your Reason For Staying
When you are not in love with someone but are staying because of your life circumstances, this is particularly insidious. Usually this conversation with a client goes like this:
“I’m not in love with my spouse anymore, but we live together,” they say.
“Time to move,” I say.
“But I can’t,” they respond, starting to get defensive.
“Why?” I say.
At this point they usually backtrack, change the subject by mentioning finances, their business, the burden of taking care of their shared kids, grandma and/or dog.
If you are staying for the dog, kids or because you don’t want to move, this is a strong signal that it’s time make a change. I understand how difficult it is. Although it is difficult, the alternative is staying stuck. If you’re going to do that, own it and commit. No reason to worry about love anymore. You’re choosing to stay in a loveless relationship and settle for less.