When we’re in love, we let a lot of things slide.
How many times have you caught your partner saying or doing something bad and you thought, “Never mind, they probably won’t do it again”, or “I’m probably overreacting — they’re not the only one who behaves like that”?
Unfortunately, the more you let something in your relationship slide, the more your partner is gonna continue doing it. And maybe it’s ok if they keep forgetting to wash the dishes or call you during their break at work. But if what they do ends up hurting you emotionally, it’s crucial that you confront them about it.
Although there are some things that it’s natural not to pay attention to (like your partner’s pet peeves for example), I firmly believe that there are some emotional red flags you should never ignore — as, over time, they only worsen and intensify.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at them.
#1. Emotional Unsafety
Sometimes, you get into a conversation with someone and instantly feel comfortable enough to let your guard down and open up to them. And sometimes, you spend months with a person with whom you feel unable to relax and communicate your feelings.
What differentiates the former situation from the latter? How emotionally safe you feel with a person.
You know your relationship lacks emotional safety when you feel you can’t trust your partner and fully open up to them.
Your partner doesn’t necessarily have to exhibit signs of abusive behavior — like gaslighting — to make you feel emotionally unsafe. It’s just that not everyone can make you feel internally relaxed and provide you with a safety net that makes it easy for you to let your guard down.
For example, maybe:
- Your partner is very different from you and you feel like you have to defend your preferences and hobbies to them.
- They never talk about their feelings, which makes it difficult for you to open up as well.
- They’re infatuated with the idea of perfection, something that makes you afraid to show them your flaws and weaknesses.
Whatever it is they do that prevents you from being your authentic self with them, the result is the same: emotional safety is a vital component of any healthy, successful relationship — when it’s absent, the relationship can neither work nor last.
#2. Power Plays
In healthy relationships, the people involved have equal or close-to-equal power and influence on each other and on the relationship per se. When power-plays enter the picture, the relationship becomes unbalanced and unhealthy.
According to the Psychology Dictionary, a power play is:
“an aggressive method or plan utilized to reach an end, frequently via the coercion of other people.”
Some examples of power-plays in relationships include:
- emotional threats (“If you do this again, I won’t talk to you for days/I won’t love you anymore/I’ll break up with you.”)
- stonewalling (refusal to communicate)
- blame-shifting (“It’s your fault I cheated on you”, “If you wouldn’t have angered me I wouldn’t have called you names.”)
- shaming (“You don’t make enough money to provide for our relationship”)
As you can understand, power plays are toxic and can take a toll on your emotional well-being as well as your self-esteem. If you recognize this red flag in your relationship, you should speak up and stand up for yourself.
Don’t try to excuse your partner’s behavior or let it slide repeatedly — that will only bring you more pain in the long term.
#3. Mind Games
Playing mind games with a (potential) partner is so common today that I’m genuinely surprised (in a good way) when a person tells me they have never done it.
If we’re being honest, most of us have played some kind of mind game at the initial phase of a relationship to test the waters or measure the other person’s interest.
However, ongoing mind games after a relationship is established, are a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored. Being on the receiving end of them is far but fun and is an indication that your partner doesn’t respect you enough to be clear and direct about their intentions with you.
Some typical mind games are:
- hot and cold behavior
- mixed messages about the relationship’s future
- using other people to make you jealous
- giving you the silent treatment
If you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of these mind games, it’s wise to confront your partner about them in order to stop the cycle of confusion and frustration.
#4. A Fixed Mindset
Another red flag that people often ignore in their relationships, is their partner’s fixed mindset.
According to psychologist Carol Dweck the definition of a fixed mindset is:
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.
In other words, a person with a fixed mindset never tries to improve themselves. Yet, as we grow older, it’s important that we try to become the best version of ourselves — both outside and inside our relationships.
Having a partner with a fixed mindset is a bad thing because they won’t strive to grow as individuals and improve theirs flaws and weaknesses — which means that they won’t try to become better partners for you as well.
A partner’s fixed mindset also comes with:
- A reluctance to recognize their mistakes or try fixing them.
- An unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions.
- A reluctance to accept your feedback.
Have you ever opened up your heart to someone, only for them to dismiss your feelings? Or maybe someone asked you to reveal your thoughts about something and upon doing it, they treated them with disregard?
Dismissiveness is something I often see in relationships around me and unfortunately, it’s something people tend to not pay attention to.
The thing is that you should be able to express your feelings and thoughts to your partner without worrying about their reaction. A good partner shouldn’t be judgemental and dismissive of your feelings. They should be able to be open and accepting of your point of view — even if they disagree with it.
You can identify dismissiveness in your relationship when you hear your partner repeatedly saying things like:
- “I don’t understand how you can think like that.”
- “You’re the only one who thinks that.”
- “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
- “You’re always overreacting.”
- “That was a stupid thought.”
Putting It All Together…
Every relationship goes through ups and downs and every partner has to deal with their significant other’s flaws, weaknesses, and sometimes questionable behavior.
However, it’s one thing for your partner to make a mistake and unintentionally hurt you and another for them to repeatedly engage in a specific behavior that disrespects you and takes a toll on your emotional well-being.
Emotional unsafety, power-plays, mind games, a fixed mindset, and dismissiveness are red flags that you should never ignore in a relationship. To be honest with you, most of the time these red flags indicate that you’ve found yourself with the wrong kind of partner and that it’s best to end your relationship.
However, there are some cases where a partner behaves this way without being aware that they’re hurting you. In those cases, it’s best to confront your partner about their behavior and explain to them how invalidated they make you feel. There is a chance they’ll try to change their ways to make you feel more loved, validated, and respected.
If they don’t — no worries! There’s someone else out there who will be able to meet your needs and provide you with everything you need. The most important thing you need to remember is the following: