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December 31, 2021

Love Recon Help-My-Mate-is-Emotionally-Unavailable-pt.2-featured

Look for These Red Flags in A Relationship


Ask yourself, “Do I feel safe with this person in my soul and spirit?” 

If the answer is “no,” you have some critical decisions to make.


Like many people, you may have found yourself in a relationship that you are now questioning. It may be time to evaluate the relationship and pay attention to any “red flags” that are present. Of course, it could also be that you are not in a relationship. Still, you could benefit from determining what your non-negotiables are.

Consider this list of 13 red flags and determine which, if any, are present in your current relationship. Put a checkmark beside each red flag that you see. If you are not currently in a relationship, put a checkmark beside each red flag that you will not tolerate in your future relationship.


___1. Lack of communication. Suppose the two of you cannot seem to communicate and get on the same page. In that case, you will have a challenging time resolving any relationship issues. On the other hand, if you are developing your communication skills and learning to connect at a deeper level, you will be able to resolve almost every issue.


___2. Non-resolution of past relationships. If parts of this person’s past relationship(s) keep appearing inappropriately in your relationship, that is a red flag. Some of that is unavoidable, especially if there are children involved. However, contact and conversation with a former lover should be limited to only the necessary interaction.


___3. Dark or secretive past. “An open book” should describe this person’s life, especially if the relationship will be more than a surface one. Evasiveness about the past and an unwillingness or inability to open up to you are red flags you shouldn’t ignore.


___4. Physical abuse. If the person that you are with threatens you with physical force or actually does use physical force to control or manipulate you, then that is a huge red flag.   The first step is to remove yourself from the situation and get to a safe place so that you can think more clearly and make good choices.


___5. Verbal and/or emotional abuse. Verbal or emotional abuse can be more subtle. Still, they are just as destructive to your psychological well-being and mental health. If someone consistently makes you feel “less than,” if they make you feel “smaller” rather than lifting you up, then that is a red flag.


___6. Addictions. There are many forms of addiction. All of them are red flags because, no matter what the addiction, it will take priority over you and the relationship. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, sports, shopping, work, gaming … all can chip away at your relationship. You will have less and less of this person’s love, and the addiction will have more and more. If the addiction is not active, there is hope that you can have a healthy relationship as long as they do the work to stay “sober” and in recovery.


___7. Neglected mental health concerns. Depression, uncontrollable anger, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are just some of the more common issues that may be going untreated. The operative word here is “untreated.”  If these issues are being treated and managed well, then a healthy and mutually-satisfying relationship should be possible.


___8. Variant behavior. “Irresponsible, immature, unpredictable, inconsistent.” Do these words describe your person? Do they show up when they say they will? Do they keep their word? Do they consistently treat you with love and respect and make you feel that you are a priority? If they are hot and cold, pulling you close and then pushing you away, that should be a red flag to you.


___9. Unwarranted jealousy. A little jealousy is natural and even healthy. However, demanding all of your time and attention and becoming jealous of friends and family is a red flag. You are not a “possession.” You are a person. In a healthy relationship, there is plenty of room for other significant people in your life.


___10. Narcissism. A narcissist is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. They believe that the world revolves around them. They require a constant supply of attention and admiration. In the early stages of your relationship, they may “love bomb” you by showering you with their time, attention, and thoughtful gifts. However, all of this stops, and their attention and interest revert to themselves. Another sign of narcissism is “gaslighting.”   This is a favorite tool that narcissists use to control those with whom they are in a relationship. It is, by definition, manipulating someone by psychological means into questioning their sanity. Typical gaslighting statements are:

  • “That never happened.”
  • “You’re too sensitive.”
  • “You have a terrible memory.” …
  • “You’re crazy — and other people think so, too.”
  • “I’m sorry you think that I hurt you.


___11. Emotional distance When someone can’t empathize with you or open their own heart to you, that is a warning that you won’t have the relationship you desire with them. That emotional unavailability may only worsen with time if not addressed and intentionally worked on.


___12. Constant fighting. Disagreements and conflict are part of being in a relationship. Constructive conflict management can even lead to greater couple satisfaction and happiness. Persistent bickering and personal attacks will eventually erode a relationship to the point that it completely dissolves. If you “fight” instead of working together to resolve issues, that’s a red flag.


___13. Imbalance of giving and taking. As we teach in Life Recon, there should be a balance between giving, equalizing, and taking. To always give is unhealthy. To always take is equally unbalanced. And to always try to equalize things and make them “fair” can be exhausting.


Should I get out?


If you have to constantly convince yourself to stay, then it is probably time to go. If your intuition says that this isn’t working and never will, make as clean a break as possible. Then healing can begin, and your life can move forward. But before you make your exit, here are some things to consider:


  • Do you see a pattern in your relationships? Suppose you leave this relationship and nothing changes in you. In that case, you will likely follow the same pattern in the next relationship. What if you grew and changed in the context of your current relationship? What if you both did?


  • What is triggering you in this relationship? Maybe it’s not a red flag in your partner that you see but something from a previous relationship that hurt you and hasn’t healed.


  • Is this “red flag(s)” a non-negotiable for you, or is it a workable difference? So many conflicts in a relationship are rooted in personality type, personal preferences, or perspectives. These can be worked out with good communication skills and a willingness to negotiate and sacrifice for each other and the relationship.


  • Have you asked for objective feedback from trusted loved ones and friends? What do they see in you or your relationship that you don’t? For what do you need confirmation?


  • How does this person respond to you when you bring up your concerns? Are they open to addressing them and communicating, or do they attempt to shut you down? Will they work on them and follow through?


  • Talking with them calmly and kindly is the only way to find out what their response will be for sure. There is an old saying that applies here, “Say what you mean; mean what you say … and don’t say it mean!” If they reject your attempts to deal with the issues, then you will know what the future with them will be like.

Recon Coaches are trained master relationship coaches who can help you make the right choices for you and your relationship. Life Recon and Love Recon seminars are excellent resources for you as well. Call 866-218-1716 to find out how we can help!

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. For anonymous and confidential help, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224). You may speak  with a trained advocate for free as many times as you need. They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You may also speak to them through a live private chat on their website.


About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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