Hello everyone and welcome back!
Today I want to talk about something very important, specifically because it’s couple’s season or cuffing season, and new relationships are blooming everywhere.
Entering into a new relationship is a beautiful and intoxicating moment. You experience butterflies around your new beau and when they look at you, your heart skips and beat and flutters back down into your stomach and you just melt.
There are times when I wish I could take a moment to speak to my younger self and tell her to beware about all of the pain and emotional wounds she would endure if she continued to ignore the red flags in her relationship.
Unfortunately, time doesn’t work that way. I loved, I broke, I lost and then I was left to pick up the pieces of a romance that should have never been. I couldn’t save myself from that pain, but perhaps I can use this platform to give another person a chance to possibly see some red flags that I and so many people ignore and mistake for love.
Red Flag Number 1: They seem uninterested/set parameters for the relationship
I met my first boyfriend when I was 17, before him no one had actually taken me seriously enough to be romantically involved, plus he was three years older than me, which was pretty thrilling for a teenager.
On our first date, my mom took me to his house so she could meet him. He had planned to cook me dinner and when I arrived I remember being shocked at his attire. I agonized over what I was going to wear and when I showed up, he answered the door in what I can only describe as pajamas.
His had a white oversized tee shirt, which was stained, over black sweats, I think he had either socks or slippers on. I had never been on a date before, but my gut told me that this felt wrong. Thinking back on this moment, I’m not quite sure why my mom didn’t usher me away back to the safety of my innocence.
In reality, I was far too juiced to care what he was wearing, he was a cute boy that liked me and I was here for it. Once my mom drove away and he closed the door, he told me that I was his girlfriend and he was my boyfriend. I remember feeling something at that moment, but I pushed it away because I actually had a boyfriend.
A few weeks later, I recall calling him and calling him. He rarely answered but one time when he did pick up the phone he specifically told me that he only wanted to talk to me once a week and see me once a week. Again I felt that lurch in my stomach and again I pushed it away.
The feelings that I felt were alarms going off, they were huge red flags that were waving in my face begging me to run! I will always remember these moments as the moments where I could have said this doesn’t feel right and left the situation and spared myself the heartache that was waiting for me down the road.
The reason I didn’t listen mirrored the problems that I had, the first was my self-esteem was so low that I could not love myself enough to know that I deserved better than that. I couldn’t find the love and respect for myself so I needed someone to give it to me and validate my existence.
The second issue was that I was far too young and had suffered too much trauma to understand what it meant to enter into a healthy and caring relationship. I was emotionally unintelligent and way too in over my head to be able to understand and interpret the red flags my gut was showing me.
When people set up restrictive guidelines early into the relationship, it is an early sign of manipulation and abuse. This person is letting you know that you now belong to them, you must obey and if you don’t there may be consequences. THIS IS NOT LOVE! It’s not even close, in fact, it’s toxic and abusive behavior that will only escalate over time.
My advice to younger Jasmine would be to listen to your gut when something doesn’t feel right. You have three brains, your mind, your heart, and your gut. Your gut will never lead you astray.
Red Flag Number 2: When a person tells you they are no good for you, listen
After my first relationship went left, and ultimately crashed and burned, I needed to take some time for myself. I made promises to never allow myself to get into another unhealthy relationship like that again. But after five years of being in a toxic relationship, I didn’t really know how to date and test the waters.
I met this guy who straight up told me that he was a bad dude, and again, I didn’t listen. In fact, I was certain that I could change him. I mean, he was nothing like my ex, he wasn’t even the same race! As if that matters!
I believed I was completely in love with this man, he was tall, handsome, we had amazing conversations. We would stay up all night on the phone or on skype, even falling asleep with one another on the other line. He was a friend to me and I was sure we would eventually be together. Yep, you heard that right, we weren’t even together, in fact, we didn’t even live in the same area. He lived in Southern California and I lived in Northern California. We met on Facebook.
I had spent almost 4 years of my life being completely loyal to a man that didn’t want to be with me. He was completely inconsistent and would ghost me for months and then randomly pop up on social media like a virus when I was just getting over him with a simple message, “hey big head”. I hated him and loved him at the same time and no matter what he knew that I would always respond.
He made promises and never kept them. Actually, he was entirely consistent and remained true to his one admittance that he was no good. In the end, he called me and told me that he got a girl pregnant and that he was going to be a father. He also said that she thought I was pretty. I was done, for good this time.
The biggest lesson I learned here was that people will always tell you their truth one way or the other. I just needed to listen. This lesson applies to many different situations, not just the romantic ones. I blatantly ignored the truth for years because I was still struggling to build up my own sense of worth. I still needed validation and I still relied on someone else to love me.
My advice to my younger self would be that consistency and honesty is vital to a healthy relationship. If you find yourself with a person and they look you in your eyes and give you a verbal out, take it and run, to the nearest exit!
Red Flag Number 3: They have no interest in being around the people you care about
Fortunately, I haven’t experienced this one but I’ve had friends and relatives whose partners behaved like they had zero interest in meeting friends and family and trust me on this, it’s not a good look.
I had a relative who had a boyfriend who mostly kept to himself and I can remember every time there was a family function he sat alone and didn’t speak to anyone. I would make it a point each and every time to walk up to him and extend my hand and say hello. I paid particular attention to his reaction and I always felt like I was intruding in some way, it wasn’t a hostile feeling outright, but it was never friendly. I never liked that guy.
I later found out that he was verbally and mentally abusive, jealous, and never left her alone. He would check her phone and freak out on her if he thought she was cheating.
If you are in a relationship and your partner has zero interest in your family and friends and wants to keep you all to themselves, this is not love. It is isolation and isolation can be very dangerous. When someone divides you from the people or activities that you love, they are creating a reality where you are meant to believe that they are the only person that you need and if you want to hang out or do something apart from them, you are wrong. It’s toxic and abusive.
People like this tend to pray on those with very low self-esteem and often those who are younger than them because they are easier to manipulate. This way when they have you all to themselves and you get to a point where you need help, you’ll have no one to turn to because somehow you’ll believe that your family and your people want nothing to do with you.
If you find yourself in a situation like any of the ones above, you have to listen to your gut. It is a very accurate indicator that something might not be right and please don’t be afraid to ask for help if you find that you can’t get away.
Abusive relationships don’t always start off violent or even abusive, they start out with subtle cues, little hints that something might be off. Pay attention to these signs and avoid them at all costs.
What are some other red flags you’ve come across in relationships? Let’s talk about it below.
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