What Happened to the Person I Met? Three Tips to Spotting Red Flags In A Relationship
When we have a new romantic interest or relationship we go through all of the good feelings of falling in love--thinking often of this person, wanting to spend all of your time with them, that exciting feeling when you get their text message or a call, etc. When our brain is going through the experience of lust or falling in love, naturally, we tend to see the very best version of this person. It’s no new news that our brain’s chemistry literally causes this to happen.
When we’re feeling so good it’s easy to dismiss some of the “red flags” when they present themselves.
I’ve found that many women I’ve worked with have this continual experience of meeting someone who seems like a perfect match in the beginning of the relationship. Then, suddenly, this person has “changed”. Maybe they notice that this person has issues with alcohol or drugs. Or suddenly this person can’t seem to control their temper. Perhaps, they’ve become emotionally distant and uninterested. The examples can go on and on.
The big question these women all have is: “What happened to that person I first met?”
They usually go on to say, “Maybe it’s something I did. Everyone has their flaws--I can handle this. Maybe if I do more, they will change.” There’s a lot of confusion and disconnect as to why this person was one way at one moment (i.e., the person they needed and wanted) and then suddenly someone else (a potentially poor or unhealthy match).
When we enter into a relationship with unhealthy and unconscious beliefs around love, it’s quite easy to miss the early signs and to also have a high tolerance for those behaviors.
When we repeatedly seem to only date people who possess red flags it can bring up confusion, frustration, and shame. Then, the even bigger question for women is, “how can I change this?”
We first learn what love looks like from our parents and/or caregivers when we’re children through the love we did or did not receive from our parents/caregivers. We also learned it by observing the relationship between our parents/caregivers. It’s what I like to call “conditioning” or “programming”.
Here are three tips to help you start seeing the red flags early on:
1. Setting Boundaries
Often times, if we learned unhealthy ways of loving and being loved in childhood, it probably means our boundaries can use some work. Begin to explore where your own boundaries are. Is it hard to say no? Do you feel obligated to rescue and help others? It can help to journal about about what your “non-negotiables” are in a relationship. When you have a clear idea of what these are, stand by them. Trust yourself and take appropriate action when someone breaks these.
2. Inner Child Work
I hear so many people say, “I don’t need to look at my childhood, what’s in the past is in the past.” I get it. There’s something unappealing about looking back and feeling the pain that may exist. A part of growth, healing, and change is feeling discomfort. And this can be one of the most profound ways you can begin healing unhealthy relationship patterns. There are many books and workbooks out there that can help you begin this journey. I also guide clients through Inner Child work through my various holistic services via coaching and private retreats.
3. Mindfulness Practices
Creating a daily mindfulness practice is a great way to build emotional tolerance and awareness. When we set time aside daily to be present with ourselves, we learn how to listen to ourselves. We can hear more clearly what we need. Again, this may be uncomfortable when you first start. It isn’t easy in our culture to sit with our feelings and to be present. There are many different approaches to mindfulness—maybe it’s meditation, a walk in nature, or journaling.
If we weren’t given the love we needed as a child or if we witnessed an unhealthy relationship between our parents/caregivers then, of course, we repeat these patterns into our adulthood. If we can take a moment and look at ourselves through a lens of compassion, we can see that we’re only doing what we know and what was modeled to us. With a consistent self-care practice and attention to healing old patterns and beliefs we can begin to see the red flags earlier on and make a conscious choice that benefits our relational needs.