10 relationship red flags (external)

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

If you landed on this page, you probably have some serious doubts about your relationship. You started with hopes and dreams, but now you feel like this is dragging your soul to the ground.

You keep asking yourself, am I the one overreacting? Maybe I’ll give it another try. We can go back to the beginning. Now you spend your days googling “should I break up?” and making lists of your good days vs your bad days. “Relationships need compromise,” you’ve been told. Yes, compromise – not misery!

It’s ok, we’ve all been there.

I’m going to share with you some external red flags that you need to watch out for. By external I mean that they’re about the other person’s behaviour and not the way you feel (internal red flags coming soon). They’re also signs of emotional abuse. There are many other reasons to break up, but if you’re experiencing any of the behaviours you've GOT to break up. You deserve better than this, you really do. Trust me.

1. Your needs don’t matter.

When you love someone you instinctively want to take care of them. You want them to be safe, healthy and happy. A romantic partner is meant to be your rock. The one you can rely on when things get tough. If when you express basic needs, such as being tired, or ill, your partner reacts like you’re a burden, there is no love there.

2. They don't respect your boundaries

Not respecting other people’s boundaries is a form of active or passive violence that’s often overlooked. It’s about wanting more than you have the right to take. It’s about not knowing where you end and another person begins. If you ask someone to give you space, or to not make that silly joke again because it hurts you, and they ignore you – they will always ignore you.

3. Nothing ever changes

Or the changes are too small to matter. You’ve had the same conversation a million times, they promise you things will get better, yet they never do. And they never will – because this is simply who they are.

4. They gaslight you

Some types of emotional abusers are masters of words. They can make your relationship sound like a fairy tale, while it’s a nightmare. They may either distort reality in a positive way, by saying that things are going great, or by denying actual events that happened. Gaslighting is the ultimate disrespect because it makes someone doubt their sanity. It’s unforgivable within romantic relationships where there’s meant to be trust between people.

5. They try to make you jealous, or they are too jealous

Emotional abusers don’t feel good in their skin. Their confidence – regardless of what they try to show in public – is extremely fragile. Both acting jealous or seeking jealousy come from this lack of confidence and fragility. Ultimately, someone who doesn’t love their self won’t love you.

6. Sudden anger outbursts

Emotions run wild and you now feel like walking on eggshells. You’re not even sure what will make them angry anymore. You feel unsafe and try to keep your distance, emotionally or physically. Here’s your survival instinct telling you to get out.

7. They talk in definitive terms

“I’ve never met someone so sensitive”, “You never want to have fun anymore”, “You’re always criticising me”. Congratulations, you reached the toxic part of your relationship. You now talk to each other like you’re enemies. You’re attacking and hurting each other instead of talking about your feelings and needs. You don’t need someone tearing you down, get out.

8. They keep lying

It started small, they exaggerated a story to make it sound more interesting. But now their stories don’t add up and you don’t know what’s true anymore. How can you be with someone you can’t trust?

9. They need reassurance all the time but never reassure you

As we said, emotional abusers have a very fragile ego. They want to take but not to give. Stop being their ego nurse and give your love to yourself and people who deserve it. It’s one thing doing things for another person, and another accommodating their needs and ignoring your own.

10. The further you commit to this relationship, the worse they get

When I got engaged my ex turned into a person I could not recognise, because he thought that we could not never break up anymore. The change was immediate. That’s because emotional abusers do not see commitment as something strengthening the relationship, but as something they achieved, like a level on videogames. The ultimate goal is to own you. And the more they “own you”, the less they respect you.

Bonus: Their family is seriously enmeshed

This one’s less about the way they treat you directly but an alarm bell in general. The way someone grew up shows what they see as norm, and what your future with them will be like.

My ex used to get drunk and cry about how much he loved his dad. Yes, seriously. When they would meet up, they would spend every second of the day together. There were no boundaries, physical or emotional. A family with no boundaries is no good news. This is how they learnt to live and they will never respect your boundaries.

If you’re still wondering, you need to realise what you can accept in this relationship versus deal breakers. What are your values? What are your boundaries? Does your partner respect them? Do they share them?

And remember, if you’re looking for a sign to break up, this is the sign.

Self check-in:

• Are they emotionally volatile and threatening?

• Are you unsure when they’re telling the truth or not?

• Do their actions show that they don’t care about you?

• Do they act like they own you?

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