In the world of relationships, there are certain things that are obvious no-nos. While arguments can be constructive now and then, incessant, unhealthy fighting is clearly a problem in any romantic partnership. Infidelity? Dishonesty? Also clear issues. Most of us are conditioned from a young age to be on the lookout for behaviors like this when we start seeking that special someone, which makes them pretty easy to spot — and thankfully because we’re worth so. much. more than that. But there are other dangerous relationship behaviors that are more subtle, more challenging to identify.
The team at the One Love Foundation is totally pro when it comes to healthy relationships — in fact, their whole mission is to change the world and eliminate abuse of all kinds by educating upcoming generations about how to establish respectful, loving romantic relationships via efforts like their recent #LoveBetter campaign. We asked them to walk us through a list of subtle relationship red flags that should be no less concerning simply because they are less obvious. Here’s what they had to say.
1. You’re being gaslit. If your partner has a habit of trying to explain away your feelings or of making you wonder if they’re meaningless or wrong (Wrong?! But they’re feelings!), there might be gaslighting at play — a phenomenon when one person wrongly tries to convince another that their perception of the world is “crazy.” It can be hard to pick up on these patterns because gaslighting often comes off as totally innocent. A telltale sign of a gaslighting partner? You feeling like you’re regularly apologizing for behavior you never committed or your S.O. often says things like, “Why are you always so sensitive?”
2. Your S.O. is unpredictable with their affection. In unhealthy relationships, affection is often used as a kind of currency that’s spent freely when things are good and withheld when one partner is dissatisfied — and no, we’re not talking about the bit of physical distance that often comes naturally when you and bae are having a typical argument. You can expect to encounter future problems with your partner if they totally withdraw their physical affection or become hostile over the slightest disagreement from you. This kind of pattern often leads to the feeling of perpetually walking on eggshells, and you shouldn’t have to deal with that.
3. You don’t get a lot of space. Your new S.O. is so protective of you! Cute, right? Well, maybe. If protectiveness turns into a lack of personal space or constant jealousy, you might have a problem. A sign of this larger issue is paranoia from your partner about your whereabouts or how quickly (or not) you’re responding to their calls or texts.
4. Things are moving really fast. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a relationship that picks up speed quickly, but if it feels like your partner is developing feelings or expecting behavior at a rate that’s potentially uncomfortable for you, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate things. When you feel overwhelmed by bold declarations of love or constant face time, it’s possible that things are less overwhelmingly romantic and more just actually overwhelming.
5. Your partner tries to lead things you say and do. “Manipulation” can feel like a strong word, but a partner who however so quietly encourages you to state certain opinions or make decisions that wouldn’t come naturally to you otherwise could very well be guilty of it. Manipulative partners are also known for turning situations around so they can place blame on their significant other.
6. You feel guilty a lot. No one deserves a guilt trip, whether it comes from a friend, a parent, or a significant other. If you spend a lot of your time away from your partner feeling bad for, well, being away from them, it should make you wonder if your relationship is all that it should be.
7. You find yourself making excuses for your partner. “You just need to get to know them better!” “They said they’re sorry for missing another family dinner… They just had a lot of work to do!” Have you found yourself constantly making statements like this about your S.O. to your friends and loved ones? If so, alarm bells should be going off in your head right about now. Habitual excuses on your partner’s behalf might mean that on some level you know how unacceptable their behavior is and are simply trying to ignore it.
Are there other red flags you keep your eyes open for? Tweet us @BritandCo.
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