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10 Relationship Red Flags | Psychology Today

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Diagnosis Dictionary Types of Therapy Talk to Someone Find a Therapist Find a Treatment Center Find a Psychiatrist Find a Support Group Find Teletherapy Back Magazine Love: What Really Matters A loving relationship can be an oasis in uncertain times, but nurturing it requires attention, honesty, openness, vulnerability, and gratitude. Subscribe Issue Archive Back Today News Consequences of COVID-19 in African-American Communities Why Cursive Handwriting Is Good for Your Brain Are Dogs or Cats Better for Mental Health During a Lockdown? Making Sense of Life in the Middle of the Storm Essential Reads Reflecting on the Life and Legacy of Scott Lilienfeld Cults and Cognition: Programming the True Believer Why Do We Resist Fact-Checking? Why It's So Hard to Understand Each Other Trending Topics COVID-19 Narcissism Alzheimer's Bias Affective Forecasting Neuroscience See All Go Verified by Psychology Today Abigail Brenner M.D. In Flux 10 Relationship Red Flags Ignore them at your own risk. Posted Jul 29, 2014 SHARE TWEET EMAIL 55 COMMENTS Source: Michal Kowalski/Shutterstock Most of us will have at least one, if not a few, significant relationships during our lifetime. Our first intimate encounters may be more difficult or challenging because we're new to the experience of forming an intimate bond with another person, and may not really know what we’re doing and what to expect. But time and experience should help us navigate through future relationships in a much better way. It’s essential to get to know yourself in every possible way before you move into a committed relationship. Often, individuals go in search of a relationship without this essential knowledge. But how can you ever hope to know another individual if you don’t know yourself first? How can you address another’s needs and desires if you're disconnected from your own? As obvious as these issues may appear, and as much as you may feel you understand them intellectually, it should come as no surprise that what initially seems unimportant may take on greater significance as insights occur over the course of the relationship. In retrospect, individuals are often baffled about their own behavior and expectations in a relationship. A really good exercise I ask my clients to do is to write down every partner they’ve had a significant relationship with, and then, for each, answer questions such as: What attracted you to this person initially? Did the attraction last? Was your fantasy about this person—what you imagined or assumed to be true—validated in reality? How long did the relationship last? Did revelations during the course of the relationship change your mind? What was the deal breaker? Do any patterns, similarities from relationship to other relationships, emerge? Learn to ask the hard questions out of the gate, the first or second time you meet someone, before opinions are solidly formed. Most of us seem to do much better when we have no real expectations of someone, because we hardly know who they are and are not yet trying to impress them. And watch for red flags—indicators that something needs to be questioned or otherwise validated. Often these are clues that something may be trouble in the future. Here are 10 key relational red flags to look out for: Lack of communication. These individuals find it difficult to talk about issues or express how they feel. Often, when it would seem most important to be open and honest, they distance themselves emotionally, leaving their partner hanging, or having to deal with a situation on their own. Often, whatever is “communicated” is expressed through moodiness, and sometimes the dreaded “silent treatment.” Irresponsible, immature, and unpredictable. Some people have trouble mastering basic life skills—taking care of themselves, managing their finances and personal space, holding onto a job, and making plans for their life and future. Small crises surrounding the way they live their daily life may take up a lot of time and energy. If so, there may be little time and energy left for you and your issues. These people may still be working on growing up. In other words, it may be hard to rely on them for almost anything. Lack of trust. When a person has difficulty being honest with himself or herself, it may be hard for them to be honest with you. Some of this behavior may not be calculated and malicious but simply a learned way or habit of coping. However, being out-and-out lied to is a no-brainer. A person who holds himself or herself unaccountable for their actions lacks integrity and lacks respect for their partner. You may feel, and rightly so, that there are a lot of “missing pieces,” so much that you don’t know or that is purposely hidden from you. Significant family and friends don’t like your partner. If there is something “off" about this person that seems obvious to those who know you so well, you may need to listen to what they’re telling you. Often, in the throes of a new relationship, hearing criticism about your new “beloved” may not be welcome, but others may see things more clearly from an outsider’s perspective. At the very least, hear these people out. Controlling behavior. Similarly, a partner may attempt to “divide and conquer,” driving a wedge between you and other significant people in your life. They may be jealous of your ongoing relationships with these people or simply feel the need to control where you go and who you associate with, limiting your world to allow in only what is important to them. Sometimes, they may make you choose them over significant others as an expression of "love." Feeling insecure in the relationship. You may often feel that you don’t know where you stand in a relationship. Rather than moving forward, building on shared experiences that should be strengthening your connection, you feel uncomfortable, uncertain, or anxious about where the it's heading. You may seek reassurances from your partner, but somehow these are only momentary and fleeting. As a result, you may be working double duty to keep the relationship on track while your partner contributes little. A dark or secretive past. Behaviors that are suspect, illegal activities, and addictive behaviors that haven’t been resolved and continue into your relationship are obvious red flags. But you shouldn't ignore or excuse anything that strikes you as strange or makes you feel uncomfortable. (Of course, if a person has done the necessary corrective work and continues doing so for their own good and for the good of the relationship, that is a different story.) Non-resolution of past relationships. These include not just intimate relationships but those with family members and friends. If a person is unable to evaluate why past relationships haven’t worked out, or consistently blames the other party for all of the problems, you can bet with a great deal of confidence that the same thing could happen with your relationship. The relationship is built on the need to feel needed. Often we enter into a relationship strongly identified with our needs. The need may be that you, my partner, must do certain things for me to make me feel secure and satisfied, or that you allow me, your partner, to feel needed by fulfilling your needs. If this dynamic is the focal point of a relationship, however, there may be little room for real growth, individually or as a couple. Abusive behavior. Finally, and of course, any form of abuse, from the seemingly mild to the overtly obvious—verbal, emotional, psychological, and certainly physical—is not just a red flag but a huge banner telling you to get out immediately and never look back. A red flag is a good intuitive image to help you process what you’re really feeling. At the end of a difficult relationship, people often say, “He (or she) told me who he (or she) was at the very beginning, but I just didn’t listen.” Learn to trust what you feel. Your hunch is probably right. SHARE TWEET EMAIL 55 COMMENTS Be careful about talking of jealousy of someone's friends or family. Submitted by Anonymous on July 31, 2014 - 5:18am Whenever I read an article that claims you should be concerned if your partner wants to separate you from your friends or family, I feel there should be a lot of clarification. My last partner accused me of trying to separate him from his friends. Of course, the friends I was trying to separate him from were the women that were calling at 3:00, the women he used to sleep with that still act like they have something with him, the 'friends' (female) he visited at their place, alone (I was specifically uninvited) to play guitar. I was not invited because music is not my thing. Of course, he later ends up sleeping with these women. Or the female friend who was also friends with his ex-wife (with whom I got along great, by the way) and every time I was around, the friend gave me the silent treatment or exclude me from the conversation (which of course my partner never noticed) This guy would swear I tried to separate him from his friends. That is why articles discussing this issue, without any clarification, can cause more damage than not. By the way, I was never accused of being jealous by any other guy, including my ex-husband. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I meant 'the women that were Submitted by P. on July 31, 2014 - 5:19am I meant 'the women that were calling at 3:00 a.m.' Reply to P. Quote P. No communication at all. Cuts Submitted by Fred on February 16, 2019 - 2:01am No communication at all. Cuts me Out isolates me. Friends don't Like me. Reply to Fred Quote Fred I'm talking about a partner Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:13pm I'm talking about a partner that tries to limit your relationships in order to cut you off from important people in your life.If your boyfriend had tried to limit your other relationships, for example. Ex-girlfriends or "friends" who turn out to be your competition so to speak are no-brainers as far as your trying to limit your boyfriend's relationship with them, especially if he's still actively involved with them. The red flag is your recognizing what he was doing and calling him on it. The fact that he turned it back on you is enough to tell you he wasn't being truthful with you or committed to the relationship. And didn't intend to be. That's your red flag to walk. He was lying to you. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Isolation in relationships Submitted by Cleverblonde on September 11, 2016 - 8:56am I think what the author wrote is still correct. I hope in hindsight, you can see that instead of attempting to limit those relationships in him, you should have left. Isolating is a very common tactic in abusive relationships; is reduces the risk of the abused telling anybody what is happening or having support. Perhaps wanting to isolate is also a warning of danger. A good man would not want to have the relationships you mentioned. Reply to Cleverblonde Quote Cleverblonde WOWZA Submitted by J BONE on June 24, 2019 - 7:01pm Your writing is better than the doctor's in this instance. I found this article vague and poorly written; incredibly poor I would say. By leaving things vague people often speculate and read it to fit their ideology. They can take the ball and run with it so to speak. There are several more appealing articles out there. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY: If anyone out there is struggling with a partner in a monogamous relationship, please please please seek help from an authorized therapist and follow their advice. Don't try to self diagnose though, as that's entirely unhealthy. It pays to do the work with a partner you love as well, even if they have little slips like drinking alcohol from time to time. People aren't perfect and neither are you. Leaving people because there's a stigma pushed in the media, especially social media, is that there's always someone better out there for you, and that my friends, isn't even close to being true most times. Dedication pays. Thanks. Dr. Holland Reply to J BONE Quote J BONE Spot on! Submitted by Maleficent on July 31, 2014 - 1:21pm Spot on article. Not only the points, which are absolutely to the T, but also the last paragraph with the "He told me so, but I just didn't listen." Sometimes, most times our own expectations are our worse enemy, and can bring about the biggest harm, making us stay in situations we wouldn't otherwise. That happened to me. When a man says "I don't love you and I never will", just listen to him, don't try to figure out what subterfuge he's playing, he's not. And he won't change. Learnt that the hard way. Reply to Maleficent Quote Maleficent Good on you! Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:14pm Good on you! Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Reading over this list, I Submitted by Anonymous on August 19, 2014 - 9:06pm Reading over this list, I recognize my own behaviour in a few of the red flags. Sigh. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous It is a painful thing to Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 5:55am It is a painful thing to realise, but take strength: now you know, and with the ability to be honest with yourself, you'll be able to learn to avoid the same mistakes in the past. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I agree. Now you know and can Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:01pm I agree. Now you know and can see things coming before they do. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. It's very good that you can Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 4:51pm It's very good that you can acknowledge that. Now you understand. That can only help you for the future. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Brush with the devil Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 6:05pm having recently 'detached' myself from 5 years of hell with someone who was out to just make my life a misery and feed off my misery (yes it took me months to realise what was happening)I then found myself spending years trying to reason with this 'human', make excuses, hope things would get better, read up on it all, and then realised that I was dealing with a sub-human, and no matter what I did, I was never going to win, and neither did he care, just discarded like I was nothing. People who have never been in this situation have no idea at all what it's like, being sucked in, love bombed, devaued and discarded, endless mind games and psychological abuse. I am strong and I thought I could win the battles and it wouldnt affect me long term, but even though I escaped...even months later when trying to 'recover' and move on, I find that I have been damaged in ways I never thought I would be. My advise, you will never win, they are heartless, soul-less creatures incapable of love and feelings and guilt and remorse. You are just an object to validate their existence, and if you dare to pull them up on their behaviour, god help you. I fought it all the way and it drained me beyond words, one day I just couldn't take anymore, and I walked. Yes, it was hard, but worth every second. Just block them in every way possible and no contact. I wasted 5 years of my precious life on a waster who knocked my self esteem into the gutter for pure pleasure and self gratification, its 5 years I'll never get back. But I'm back...and that will never happen again, not ever! Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Heh, 5 years is not bad. No, Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 10:18pm Heh, 5 years is not bad. No, seriously, you are able to move on now and you are aware and it won't happen again. I lost 20+ years of my life, including my soul, and my uterus (not kidding…hysterectomy...he gave me all kinds of infections resulting in many gyne problems from his long term overseas hooker habit that i didn't know about until after he said he was leaving). Yep, he is so entitled he didn't always use protection. I am now almost 50, rentering the workforce after being a SAHM for 17 years, starting from scratch financially (will I ever to be able to retire?) Am I bitter? Why wouldn't I be? THe positives, my kids see him for who he really is and the kids still live with me in a peaceful, loving home. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous empathy Submitted by Anonymous on August 21, 2014 - 3:40am hey, I can empathize with you totally, something they are incapable of, my 5 years felt like a lifetime, 20+ years must have been hell. Happy for you that you are out of it and dont blame you in the slightest for being bitter...I am some days but generally those negative feelings have subsided a lot. Hope you find peace again one day Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I lost 15 years myself!! Submitted by ed on March 28, 2015 - 9:47pm I lost 15 years in my prime myself!! I helped her get a 750 credit rating....paid for my 2 step kids who no longer speak to me because of her lies to get through college....she stole everything of value....didn't help with any bills for 2 years while dragging out the divorce to save up her money while I paid 50 grand to try and keep everything up to date financially.....Once her kids were set in College...she harassed my bosses at work to the point I was fired from a 6 figure job. She turned EVERYONE against me with the victim role....iincluding my own family for a while. Filed a fake restraining order and got people to lie for her to get it because of her sob stories!! So now, I had to file for bankruptcy, flat broke, no where to go, no job(bbecause she has had me fired in various ways from even a pizza delivery job)!! No home, nothing I worked hard for for the last 15 years. BUT, I've learned soo much about myself and bankruptcy and foreclosure and divorce and mental disorders and symptoms like Her BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER!! I know all the signs of a cheater now and how to handle money in a relationship and never get a joint bank account again. The best part is....llast year was the HARDEST YEAR of my life!! BUT, IS NOW THE GREATEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!! I know and have learned soo much about myself. All the time off and alone allowed me time to read over 300 audio books and 50 normal books!! The best part is. ...iI will NEVER SEE HER AGAIN!! Thank God the death sentence was commuted!! Haha, sorry so long ;) Reply to ed Quote ed Would like to learn from your recovery and selfcare Submitted by Asha on July 20, 2020 - 5:59am Hello, I can totally relate to your experiences, For 20 plus years I went thru many similar experience, ultimately it cost me my high paying enjoyable job, severe depression brought on by this abusive narcissistic man who only concern was to build himself up financially at my expenses. His 3 children left my home without as much as a backward glance, not thank you not hug.. I am recovering from it all, by God's grace for past 7 years. Yet living life is still a major struggle..it left a big black hole, depleted finances, poor health, few friends and big time suspicion of the opposite sex..men.. Would really love to know what sorts of books you read, and the audio you listened to, Was any of that helpful in reclaiming your life. Thank you very much.. Warm regards and blessings, Asha Reply to Asha Quote Asha Sorry for your years of pain Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:04pm Sorry for your years of pain but good for you---taking your life back. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Fell in Love with someone who wanted to be Aborted Submitted by Anonymous on October 12, 2014 - 5:34am your story "brush with the devil" is eerily similar to mine unfortunately. I spent 7 years with someone who by all accounts is a 'sub-human'. I noticed this early on when I mentioned i wanted to meet her parents (to ask them their daughter's hand in marriage) she replied with "why? i want them to burn in hell!" I was aware from the get-go something was amiss with this "angel", especially when she mentioned she had a psychosis episode in her late teens where she was institutionalized in a mental hospital (against her own will). I figured with my background in the mental health field that the signs would eventually pop-up if indeed something was seriously amiss and get her help... I brushed off constantly all the disturbing comments ("i'd rather take cyanide then to talk to peoples", "i would like to try prostitution for fun", "go have sex with my underage cousins", "i dont care if its a red light i want and will drive", ETC ad nauseum) and reactions (didnt like photos, eating together/with peoples, you spoke to her she walked away mid-sentence, fell asleep while talking to her, had no clue how to deal with anything on day-to-day basis/society/relating, ETC) and thinking this was just latent teenage angst and other classical terms. She seemed like the sweetest girl i have ever met until with the help of other professionals we figured out that: she had possibly several clinical mental diseases (Bipolar, Sociopath, Psychopath, Borderline Personality, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Cognitive Dissonance, Manic Depressive, etc) but couldnt tell for sure as the doctors themselves thought she was "f**king with them" and couldnt get a clear diagnosis We tried everything, travelled to several countries to see multiple specialists, hospitals, medications, diet, moving, philosophies/beliefs, lifestyle, etc Nothing worked. The doctors including her parents (and finally me) realised she just doesnt not care about anyone, anything and might not be capable of love. But her parents (blood is thicker then water) didnt know how to deal with it and were affraid of her, so they were happy that she was "now my problem" (as they put it themselves, good grief!) She was like this her whole life (as she told me herself) and kept telling me lies upons lies, psychological abuse (that still affects me to the point ive tried suicide multiple times after we split) and blaming everyone else but herself, and when she would blame herself then she would (naturally) get "worse" I always kept hope (which i no longer believe in), faith, patience, prayed, meditated, etc and constantly my life revolved around her 'eternal shit stain' (as she eloquently put it herself) that she put on our relationship. She relished pain in all its forms, but my love never wavered (till death do us part) which eventually has taken a serious permanent toll on my life of her self-destructive path, it has drained me to the point that i am a completely different person today because of the rotting spreading cancer that she was/is Its the saddest thing ever anyone could go through and it breaks my heart Eternally. I am even writting a (extremely painful) book about this as i want other peoples Never to have to go through a real life hell like this sub-human put me through- unfortunately there are no laws to stop these creatures to propulgate their evil path unto others and god forbid she ever procreates btw all 10 of the Red Flags where here (and other flags the author failed to mention) in different extreme forms Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Thanks for telling your story Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:01pm Thanks for telling your story and I look forward to hearing about your book. I'm sure many can benefit from what you went through and what you learned as a result. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. No way in hell.... Submitted by Lisa Johnson on August 3, 2016 - 7:31pm No way in hell could the person you describe ever pass off being an "Angel"! I always doubt stories like this because when people describe others this way and claim they were "duped or didn't realize" they were this way ....well guess what you have issues as well! This sounds just like my mother-in-law who claimed my father-in-law was a psychopath when he wasn't but she herself was the one with mental issues. Reply to Lisa Johnson Quote Lisa Johnson Book? Submitted by Anon on January 3, 2017 - 11:06pm Did you finish your book? I sure would like to read it. Reply to Anon Quote Anon It's great that you were able Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:09pm It's great that you were able to break free and get your life back. A very tough life lesson to have gone through but an excellent one for your future. And even better yet is that you know that you and your life are precious. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Couldn't agree more Submitted by Kaiden on January 16, 2016 - 4:11am I went through the same thing, only wasted 2 years of my life with the same kind of person. I couldn't agree more with you about people like this. Soul less, hateful misery loves company type of people. Reply to Kaiden Quote Kaiden Why do a man say he loves you Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 7:58pm Why do a man say he loves you and when you just simply want clarification what is going on between your man and his lady office-mate (why most of their company pictures they're together) makes him elope and defensive saying - you are making your own nightmare?! Do we women, saying we are gifted of natural instinct and that we should trust our gut, be also labeled - we think too much?! The actions and words are conflicting, don't you think so?! Then, let me ask - when will be the real (pure) love begins?! Is it called love when it easily said - the spark just gone?! Is it that really easy to waste - the love. Or we just don't want to admit we barely know love?! Because i am proud late-bloomer, and i know little about love. I am still learning and i want to experience more of it. Just that, pain of being heart broken is crucial than finding the truth about love. And it keeps me asking - why love is created and why it is called love when the opposite (heart break) also exist?! Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I wish I had had a copy of Submitted by Eric Smee on August 26, 2014 - 2:58am I wish I had had a copy of this to give to each of my daughters when they were young Reply to Eric Smee Quote Eric Smee Confused Submitted by Anonymous on August 26, 2014 - 1:37pm This article was really inspiring but if there an article that tells us the red flags and then gives us solutions? For example 9. The relationship is built on the need to feel needed. That's one thing I'm completely confused about. Yes I feel I want to be needed in a relationship. Not to the point of I am taking care of him or him of me, just that I know he likes to remind me that he loves me by showing it sometimes. Not only by saying, I love you! It's hard reading articles like these, that tell you what is wrong but don't give any advice. I know all relationships work differently but there's gotta be something in common? Also how many Red Flags does it take to "OPEN ONE'S EYES" ,haha Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I wish a short article could Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:20pm I wish a short article could give you the answers you need. I try to give an overview of a situation and to point you in the direction of some things to look for and be aware of. To clarify---being needed is important but not to the point of being needy in relationship. Also, what is a solution for one person may not apply to another. There's a lot of nuance when it comes to the way individuals experience an issue. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. how many red flags? haha? Submitted by chunky on March 28, 2015 - 8:41pm What's the joke? Reply to chunky Quote chunky Red flags uh. What to do if Submitted by Anonymous on October 11, 2014 - 10:44pm Red flags uh. What to do if you are with a woman with 40 years of past married life ... that's been 'set on a shelf' her entire life ... that has had 2 20 year marriages but never a wedding ... that has live with husbands but never a Lover ... that has had sex but never made love ... that has lived in houses but never a home ... that has the warmest (historically unappreciated, devalued) heart I've ever seen ... that doesn't know what to do with a lover of her soul (me) ... that has never been treated like the lady she is ... that is in her shell watching me from a far ... that knows I'm the best, respectful gentleman she has ever met and that loves being with her and has been 'waiting' a year for the 'dating' to start. What to do? Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Don't wait to date. She's Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 4:48pm Don't wait to date. She's obviously with you for a while now. You may know who you are and what you can offer her but she either doesn't or is too afraid to allow you in just yet. Given her history, I can understand why. Just being together may be enough for now. And perhaps, over time, your relationship will evolve into something else. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Very good insight Ms. Submitted by Anonymous on October 19, 2014 - 5:13am Very good insight Ms. Brenner. Thank you. Coupling my previous post with her childhood being one of trauma, neglect and abuse from father...that ended with an early pregnancy...cutting off any natural transition into adulthood and seemingly leaving her childhood suspended or incomplete. And lately her about-face turn from intimacy is ok, to now separate travel rooms and no over-nights, intimacy is very different. The relationship rations presently available are very scarce. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous this article Submitted by Anonymous on October 12, 2014 - 9:31am I don't think there's any relationship left if they all have to unfit this standards! Its very likely that at least 1 of your good friends or family members doesn't like your partner. It doesn't mean there is something wrong. It means they have a different taste in people then you and they can have own motives too. Not all my friends like my boyfriend. So what. Its very nice to have people making your decisions - but then better let them choose your partner in the first plays, after all, its the only way to be sure! (only, pre-arranged marriages aren't allowed, for a reason.. why go back to a bad thing.. by giving them that much power over what YOU should deceide for yourself?). Thats the worst advice to give to anyone. People should learn to think for themselves better, not let someone else, that may be inferior in judging people do it for them. Also, you have to correct your previous wrongdoings and make up for them for YOUR PARTNER? Wait, what? Everyone does bad stuff (not exclusively bad stuff, but bad stuff anyways) and you have to make up your bad stuff and keep on doing that for the rest of your life to someone who wasn't wronged by you at the time, has nothing to do with your past and isn't your god or the police? Hell fucking no you don't!! No one should enter any relationship as a forever guilt tripped slave! Very bad advice.. Seemingly mild verbally abusive behaviour as a reason for never looking back? Please, get real. Everyone who has had a bad day, felt tired, or had a very bad hangover (meaning, literally everyone) has had a temper in a reationship at least once. And probably more often then once! Say sorry, move on. If this is a reason for leaving and never looking back - everyone should be, and stay, single. Ofcourse you should both work for a relationship - but did it ever occur to you that people are very capable of getting insecure without any help from their partner, who now read your article and finally found someone to blame for it all? Also the one with the jealous and controllable behaviour - can feel insecure, which is, according to you, a reason to blame other and run. Like everything else is a reason to run. :P Great article for the shallow always feeling calimero and wronged people, who now feel acknowledged in their selfpity and trauma because their partner had a bad mood once - very ignorant article for everyone else. The lack of depth and nuance in this article is shocking. I'm going to give up my hope for humanity and go back to reading cosmopolitans now, same quality as here lately but more fun. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous +1. I hope there are more Submitted by Anonymous on October 14, 2014 - 2:45pm +1. I hope there are more people with your opinion. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Dear Anonymous, Sorry you're Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on April 25, 2015 - 8:44pm Dear Anonymous, Sorry you're so cynical. No article is meant to give the definitive answers for everyone's woes. The points in the article are merely guidelines, not solutions. Obviously, there's a lot more to life than what someone writes in an article. Try to read articles for content and nothing more. If they don't resonate with you, let them go. Ultimately, you make your own decisions. Sometimes, no outside advice is helpful. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Good and bad Submitted by Anonymous on October 12, 2014 - 9:36am I was in a marriage for right at 5 years. Four of those years were splendid, and one year was bad. I am glad that my life and experiences has more good than bad, and I appreciate the 4 good years and I will not forget it nor will I allow the 1 bad year to tarnish those 4. It is over and behind me, but perspective is a wonderful thing and the acceptance of the good vs. the bad helps mitigate the self-destructive bitterness I had about the final year. I am thankful that my life is pre-dominantly good and I can recognize that fact. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Terrific perspective! Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:12pm Terrific perspective! Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. INSPIRING !!! Submitted by SappHIRES on October 13, 2014 - 7:02am INSPIRING !!! Reply to SappHIRES Quote SappHIRES Thank you! Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:05pm Thank you! Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. trust your gut Submitted by chunky on March 28, 2015 - 8:48pm Good article, trusting my gut on this one. Reply to chunky Quote chunky I think the red flag about Submitted by Christina on March 28, 2015 - 8:48pm I think the red flag about "friends and family not liking" your partner is wrong. I'm dealing with this right now, and it's the result of my bf's extremely possessive/jealous twin sister and mother who had done their best to sabotage our relationship and turn people against me. I've had 3 other serious rship and this has never happened! I've never had enemies and have always gotten along great w others. I think it's unfair to assume its the partner when it could be notoriously jealous siblings and mother in laws! Reply to Christina Quote Christina trust your gut Submitted by chunky on March 28, 2015 - 8:49pm Good article, trusting my gut on this one. Reply to chunky Quote chunky I wish I read this 2 years ago! Submitted by Anonymous on March 29, 2015 - 9:27am Absolutely spot on. My partner who I recently split from just last week showed virtually all of these reg flags from the very beginning, and I didn't listen to my head. It's really important that you listen to your friends and family and hear what they have to say about your partner. The warning signs are there, but you just don't want to see them and you keep holding on and hope for the better. you can talk about it with your partner and share your concerns and if they don't go to the efforts to change their damaging behaviours, get out of the relationship. I moved away with my boyfriend after 18 months of us being together to a city 200 miles away from any friends or family so I could be with him while he did his masters degree. His toxic behaviour got worse and worse and was treating me with very little to no respect with no regards to my thoughts or feelings. He did not compromise, he always had to be right and he always had to get his way. The way he used to speak to me and treat me a lot of the time was verging on abusive. He constantly put me down, and if he had a bad day and came home in a mood he'd snap and take it out on me. he'd give me the bare minimum of what I needed from a relationship, just as little and often as he needed to keep me. The longer I stayed with him, the worse he got and the harder it got to leave him. He'd have good days and bad days. Some days he's be like my best friend. We'd have a laugh like old times and I'd remember why I love him and why I'm there, and other times he'd leave me feeling worthless. It's a painful relationship to have to be in. You don't know where you stand with the person, and you are constantly questioning where you went wrong. Well, it is NOT your fault. It felt like I was holding us both together for a long time, he'd never meet me half way and I did all of the compromising just to try and keep him happy. I'd let him speak to me like sh#t and let if=t go over my head just to avoid argument or any more hurt. If this is going on in your relationship and this is how you feel, you need to find the strength like I did to let go. I'm now putting it down as a life lesson and am moving on. This year I'm going to university and I'm going to get a career and moving on in my life. You just need to realise on your own you don't deserve to be treated that way and that you are worth so much more. I never thought I could be happy without him but after 4 days straight of non stop crying, 9 days later I am looking back and thinking what a prick why on earth did I stay with him?? Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Thank you. Best of luck Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on April 25, 2015 - 8:49pm Thank you. Best of luck moving forward. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Control Freak Submitted by No name on March 29, 2015 - 2:00pm I "fell in love" with someone who I had to fight everyday with for what I believed in & for who I was. He would get mad at me when I didn't want to have sex with him, when I would schedule time to spend with my friends (even if he was invited to come with me), & he pushed my personal space boundaries - to the point where no matter what I would say or do to tell him that what he was doing was negatively affecting me, he would just turn around & use another method to keep pushing. I could go on & on & I will spare every one of you all the stupid, stupid details, but my point is that something inside of me made me feel unsure about him all the time & I just ignored it. Now, looking back, it's completely obvious our relationship was unhealthy, but when you're blind, blissful, & you're both in that honeymoon phase thinking you've found the one, the "love" of it all can really persuade you to stay in that unhealthy relationship. 'Cause he just does it because loves you so much right? You'd be crazy to want to leave him, right? I could say that I wish I could have read this article sooner so I could have spared myself some agony, but I gained so much from my experience & I can only hope that the knowledge conveyed in this article can help open some eyes & give strength & comfort to those who also felt that weird, unsure, faint-but-somehow-always-in-the back-of your-mind feeling that's telling you you would be better off by yourself. Reply to No name Quote No name Is it me? Submitted by Dave on April 17, 2015 - 6:29pm I pick women to rescue because my mother was always in a crisis. I thought recently that because I'm aware of this and its something I couldn't change I should just go with it. I have been feeling like these women aren't able to have normal relationships. Because when everything is solved they start making interpersonal problems that don't actually exist. I can't keep doing this. Its turning me into a person I don't like. All my energy goes into making her feel better. I have no energy for the things I like to do or for being with my friends. I don't even know if I still have friends actually considering how I've neglected them. The really terrible thing is I'll probably do this all over again. I'll find some woman who is always having problems and try to help and get wrapped up in her world. In the end I doubt I'm doing these women any favors really. Are some people destined to be alone or in passing relationships forever? Is there a happy ending for people like myself and the people we try to love? I certainly don't see one right now. But thanks for your article. David Reply to Dave Quote Dave rescue yourself Submitted by ed on April 25, 2015 - 11:44pm Dave, I learned I am not Jesus Crist, the savoir anymore!! I can only save myself!! I spent the first 6 months learning about her and what she had. It doesn't matter cuzz she won't change. The last year I have spent on myself!! I learned the Gary Chapman 5 love languages!! I watch Coach corey Wayne everyday on you tube#! I watch Leo at ACTUALIZE. ORG every week!! This is MY LIFE! ! I get 1 of them!! I have met some more SMOKING HOT women that have mental issues like they are drawn to me out 9 a room of 5000 people!! I really think they are!! I know me now, what I need and what I want!! I have 3 different women in my orbit!! Each I can hang out with give or cut loose! Life is short my friend! I have dreams and goals that if not in lone with theirs then no biggie I move on!! You can read my story of the last 15 yearz!! But rhe circumstances do NOT make the man they reveal him!! I know what I have to offer In life and the 4-5 close friends that weren't toxic know my loyalty! ! One woman cannot break a man!! Mine almost did!! I read this article and soo many others and now I am stronger mentally. I have multi- million dollar ideas. I have extreme confidence in myself!! The key was speaking g to EVERY CAUSED OR I COULD!! THE SHRINK gave me ZOLOFT and the personal counselor now sees me for free with no insurance!! She believes in me and soo many others Do!! It means alot!! Excuse my phrase, but 1 dirt whore will not destroy my life!! I promise to MYSELF I WILL BE SOMEONE!! And self promises are worth gold!! Ed Reply to ed Quote ed Another red flag Submitted by dhowe on July 4, 2015 - 3:36pm For you guys out there...watch out for women who frequently demand ridiculous, inflexible or unrealistic demonstrations of you loyalty. Faithfulness shouldn't be negotiable but if you feel uncomfortable with any other of her loyalty tests then she needs to redefine it to something that is reasonable (or even necessary). Many women have been raised to expect unconditional love and loyalty from a protective, paternalistic man but that's not the real world. Women should stand on their own two feet and not constantly test their partner so they feel "safe". C'mon ladies - grow up! Reply to dhowe Quote dhowe Another Red Flag Submitted by Chris K on January 18, 2019 - 3:18pm @ dhowe: you must have been the guy my ex dated for two months. You have described her perfectly. Reply to Chris K Quote Chris K article Submitted by beach sandals on February 7, 2017 - 11:26pm Appreciated your article until the end, when this was said, "Learn to trust what you feel. Your hunch is probably right." We tend to disregard or not notice the red flags because we are going by what we feel instead of what we known. Sometimes it is an outsider who helps us see the red flags because we are so emotionally vested in the relationship. Reply to beach sandals Quote beach sandals Previous Page 1 (current) Next Post Comment Your name E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Subject Comment * Notify me when new comments are posted All comments Replies to my comment Leave this field blank advertisement About the Author Abigail Brenner, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice. She is the author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life and other books. Online: Twitter Read Next 5 Reasons Why It's Important to Forgive 7 Ways to Prepare for the Death of a Loved One 10 Things to Ask Before You Commit to a Forever Relationship Is He a Bad Guy or Just Bad at Relationships? 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Diagnosis Dictionary Types of Therapy Talk to Someone Find a Therapist Find a Treatment Center Find a Psychiatrist Find a Support Group Find Teletherapy Back Magazine Love: What Really Matters A loving relationship can be an oasis in uncertain times, but nurturing it requires attention, honesty, openness, vulnerability, and gratitude. Subscribe Issue Archive Back Today News Consequences of COVID-19 in African-American Communities Why Cursive Handwriting Is Good for Your Brain Are Dogs or Cats Better for Mental Health During a Lockdown? Making Sense of Life in the Middle of the Storm Essential Reads Reflecting on the Life and Legacy of Scott Lilienfeld Cults and Cognition: Programming the True Believer Why Do We Resist Fact-Checking? Why It's So Hard to Understand Each Other Trending Topics COVID-19 Narcissism Alzheimer's Bias Affective Forecasting Neuroscience See All Go Verified by Psychology Today Abigail Brenner M.D. In Flux 10 Relationship Red Flags Ignore them at your own risk. Posted Jul 29, 2014 SHARE TWEET EMAIL 55 COMMENTS Source: Michal Kowalski/Shutterstock Most of us will have at least one, if not a few, significant relationships during our lifetime. Our first intimate encounters may be more difficult or challenging because we're new to the experience of forming an intimate bond with another person, and may not really know what we’re doing and what to expect. But time and experience should help us navigate through future relationships in a much better way. It’s essential to get to know yourself in every possible way before you move into a committed relationship. Often, individuals go in search of a relationship without this essential knowledge. But how can you ever hope to know another individual if you don’t know yourself first? How can you address another’s needs and desires if you're disconnected from your own? As obvious as these issues may appear, and as much as you may feel you understand them intellectually, it should come as no surprise that what initially seems unimportant may take on greater significance as insights occur over the course of the relationship. In retrospect, individuals are often baffled about their own behavior and expectations in a relationship. A really good exercise I ask my clients to do is to write down every partner they’ve had a significant relationship with, and then, for each, answer questions such as: What attracted you to this person initially? Did the attraction last? Was your fantasy about this person—what you imagined or assumed to be true—validated in reality? How long did the relationship last? Did revelations during the course of the relationship change your mind? What was the deal breaker? Do any patterns, similarities from relationship to other relationships, emerge? Learn to ask the hard questions out of the gate, the first or second time you meet someone, before opinions are solidly formed. Most of us seem to do much better when we have no real expectations of someone, because we hardly know who they are and are not yet trying to impress them. And watch for red flags—indicators that something needs to be questioned or otherwise validated. Often these are clues that something may be trouble in the future. Here are 10 key relational red flags to look out for: Lack of communication. These individuals find it difficult to talk about issues or express how they feel. Often, when it would seem most important to be open and honest, they distance themselves emotionally, leaving their partner hanging, or having to deal with a situation on their own. Often, whatever is “communicated” is expressed through moodiness, and sometimes the dreaded “silent treatment.” Irresponsible, immature, and unpredictable. Some people have trouble mastering basic life skills—taking care of themselves, managing their finances and personal space, holding onto a job, and making plans for their life and future. Small crises surrounding the way they live their daily life may take up a lot of time and energy. If so, there may be little time and energy left for you and your issues. These people may still be working on growing up. In other words, it may be hard to rely on them for almost anything. Lack of trust. When a person has difficulty being honest with himself or herself, it may be hard for them to be honest with you. Some of this behavior may not be calculated and malicious but simply a learned way or habit of coping. However, being out-and-out lied to is a no-brainer. A person who holds himself or herself unaccountable for their actions lacks integrity and lacks respect for their partner. You may feel, and rightly so, that there are a lot of “missing pieces,” so much that you don’t know or that is purposely hidden from you. Significant family and friends don’t like your partner. If there is something “off" about this person that seems obvious to those who know you so well, you may need to listen to what they’re telling you. Often, in the throes of a new relationship, hearing criticism about your new “beloved” may not be welcome, but others may see things more clearly from an outsider’s perspective. At the very least, hear these people out. Controlling behavior. Similarly, a partner may attempt to “divide and conquer,” driving a wedge between you and other significant people in your life. They may be jealous of your ongoing relationships with these people or simply feel the need to control where you go and who you associate with, limiting your world to allow in only what is important to them. Sometimes, they may make you choose them over significant others as an expression of "love." Feeling insecure in the relationship. You may often feel that you don’t know where you stand in a relationship. Rather than moving forward, building on shared experiences that should be strengthening your connection, you feel uncomfortable, uncertain, or anxious about where the it's heading. You may seek reassurances from your partner, but somehow these are only momentary and fleeting. As a result, you may be working double duty to keep the relationship on track while your partner contributes little. A dark or secretive past. Behaviors that are suspect, illegal activities, and addictive behaviors that haven’t been resolved and continue into your relationship are obvious red flags. But you shouldn't ignore or excuse anything that strikes you as strange or makes you feel uncomfortable. (Of course, if a person has done the necessary corrective work and continues doing so for their own good and for the good of the relationship, that is a different story.) Non-resolution of past relationships. These include not just intimate relationships but those with family members and friends. If a person is unable to evaluate why past relationships haven’t worked out, or consistently blames the other party for all of the problems, you can bet with a great deal of confidence that the same thing could happen with your relationship. The relationship is built on the need to feel needed. Often we enter into a relationship strongly identified with our needs. The need may be that you, my partner, must do certain things for me to make me feel secure and satisfied, or that you allow me, your partner, to feel needed by fulfilling your needs. If this dynamic is the focal point of a relationship, however, there may be little room for real growth, individually or as a couple. Abusive behavior. Finally, and of course, any form of abuse, from the seemingly mild to the overtly obvious—verbal, emotional, psychological, and certainly physical—is not just a red flag but a huge banner telling you to get out immediately and never look back. A red flag is a good intuitive image to help you process what you’re really feeling. At the end of a difficult relationship, people often say, “He (or she) told me who he (or she) was at the very beginning, but I just didn’t listen.” Learn to trust what you feel. Your hunch is probably right. SHARE TWEET EMAIL 55 COMMENTS Be careful about talking of jealousy of someone's friends or family. Submitted by Anonymous on July 31, 2014 - 5:18am Whenever I read an article that claims you should be concerned if your partner wants to separate you from your friends or family, I feel there should be a lot of clarification. My last partner accused me of trying to separate him from his friends. Of course, the friends I was trying to separate him from were the women that were calling at 3:00, the women he used to sleep with that still act like they have something with him, the 'friends' (female) he visited at their place, alone (I was specifically uninvited) to play guitar. I was not invited because music is not my thing. Of course, he later ends up sleeping with these women. Or the female friend who was also friends with his ex-wife (with whom I got along great, by the way) and every time I was around, the friend gave me the silent treatment or exclude me from the conversation (which of course my partner never noticed) This guy would swear I tried to separate him from his friends. That is why articles discussing this issue, without any clarification, can cause more damage than not. By the way, I was never accused of being jealous by any other guy, including my ex-husband. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I meant 'the women that were Submitted by P. on July 31, 2014 - 5:19am I meant 'the women that were calling at 3:00 a.m.' Reply to P. Quote P. No communication at all. Cuts Submitted by Fred on February 16, 2019 - 2:01am No communication at all. Cuts me Out isolates me. Friends don't Like me. Reply to Fred Quote Fred I'm talking about a partner Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:13pm I'm talking about a partner that tries to limit your relationships in order to cut you off from important people in your life.If your boyfriend had tried to limit your other relationships, for example. Ex-girlfriends or "friends" who turn out to be your competition so to speak are no-brainers as far as your trying to limit your boyfriend's relationship with them, especially if he's still actively involved with them. The red flag is your recognizing what he was doing and calling him on it. The fact that he turned it back on you is enough to tell you he wasn't being truthful with you or committed to the relationship. And didn't intend to be. That's your red flag to walk. He was lying to you. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Isolation in relationships Submitted by Cleverblonde on September 11, 2016 - 8:56am I think what the author wrote is still correct. I hope in hindsight, you can see that instead of attempting to limit those relationships in him, you should have left. Isolating is a very common tactic in abusive relationships; is reduces the risk of the abused telling anybody what is happening or having support. Perhaps wanting to isolate is also a warning of danger. A good man would not want to have the relationships you mentioned. Reply to Cleverblonde Quote Cleverblonde WOWZA Submitted by J BONE on June 24, 2019 - 7:01pm Your writing is better than the doctor's in this instance. I found this article vague and poorly written; incredibly poor I would say. By leaving things vague people often speculate and read it to fit their ideology. They can take the ball and run with it so to speak. There are several more appealing articles out there. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY: If anyone out there is struggling with a partner in a monogamous relationship, please please please seek help from an authorized therapist and follow their advice. Don't try to self diagnose though, as that's entirely unhealthy. It pays to do the work with a partner you love as well, even if they have little slips like drinking alcohol from time to time. People aren't perfect and neither are you. Leaving people because there's a stigma pushed in the media, especially social media, is that there's always someone better out there for you, and that my friends, isn't even close to being true most times. Dedication pays. Thanks. Dr. Holland Reply to J BONE Quote J BONE Spot on! Submitted by Maleficent on July 31, 2014 - 1:21pm Spot on article. Not only the points, which are absolutely to the T, but also the last paragraph with the "He told me so, but I just didn't listen." Sometimes, most times our own expectations are our worse enemy, and can bring about the biggest harm, making us stay in situations we wouldn't otherwise. That happened to me. When a man says "I don't love you and I never will", just listen to him, don't try to figure out what subterfuge he's playing, he's not. And he won't change. Learnt that the hard way. Reply to Maleficent Quote Maleficent Good on you! Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:14pm Good on you! Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Reading over this list, I Submitted by Anonymous on August 19, 2014 - 9:06pm Reading over this list, I recognize my own behaviour in a few of the red flags. Sigh. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous It is a painful thing to Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 5:55am It is a painful thing to realise, but take strength: now you know, and with the ability to be honest with yourself, you'll be able to learn to avoid the same mistakes in the past. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I agree. Now you know and can Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:01pm I agree. Now you know and can see things coming before they do. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. It's very good that you can Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 4:51pm It's very good that you can acknowledge that. Now you understand. That can only help you for the future. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Brush with the devil Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 6:05pm having recently 'detached' myself from 5 years of hell with someone who was out to just make my life a misery and feed off my misery (yes it took me months to realise what was happening)I then found myself spending years trying to reason with this 'human', make excuses, hope things would get better, read up on it all, and then realised that I was dealing with a sub-human, and no matter what I did, I was never going to win, and neither did he care, just discarded like I was nothing. People who have never been in this situation have no idea at all what it's like, being sucked in, love bombed, devaued and discarded, endless mind games and psychological abuse. I am strong and I thought I could win the battles and it wouldnt affect me long term, but even though I escaped...even months later when trying to 'recover' and move on, I find that I have been damaged in ways I never thought I would be. My advise, you will never win, they are heartless, soul-less creatures incapable of love and feelings and guilt and remorse. You are just an object to validate their existence, and if you dare to pull them up on their behaviour, god help you. I fought it all the way and it drained me beyond words, one day I just couldn't take anymore, and I walked. Yes, it was hard, but worth every second. Just block them in every way possible and no contact. I wasted 5 years of my precious life on a waster who knocked my self esteem into the gutter for pure pleasure and self gratification, its 5 years I'll never get back. But I'm back...and that will never happen again, not ever! Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Heh, 5 years is not bad. No, Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 10:18pm Heh, 5 years is not bad. No, seriously, you are able to move on now and you are aware and it won't happen again. I lost 20+ years of my life, including my soul, and my uterus (not kidding…hysterectomy...he gave me all kinds of infections resulting in many gyne problems from his long term overseas hooker habit that i didn't know about until after he said he was leaving). Yep, he is so entitled he didn't always use protection. I am now almost 50, rentering the workforce after being a SAHM for 17 years, starting from scratch financially (will I ever to be able to retire?) Am I bitter? Why wouldn't I be? THe positives, my kids see him for who he really is and the kids still live with me in a peaceful, loving home. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous empathy Submitted by Anonymous on August 21, 2014 - 3:40am hey, I can empathize with you totally, something they are incapable of, my 5 years felt like a lifetime, 20+ years must have been hell. Happy for you that you are out of it and dont blame you in the slightest for being bitter...I am some days but generally those negative feelings have subsided a lot. Hope you find peace again one day Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I lost 15 years myself!! Submitted by ed on March 28, 2015 - 9:47pm I lost 15 years in my prime myself!! I helped her get a 750 credit rating....paid for my 2 step kids who no longer speak to me because of her lies to get through college....she stole everything of value....didn't help with any bills for 2 years while dragging out the divorce to save up her money while I paid 50 grand to try and keep everything up to date financially.....Once her kids were set in College...she harassed my bosses at work to the point I was fired from a 6 figure job. She turned EVERYONE against me with the victim role....iincluding my own family for a while. Filed a fake restraining order and got people to lie for her to get it because of her sob stories!! So now, I had to file for bankruptcy, flat broke, no where to go, no job(bbecause she has had me fired in various ways from even a pizza delivery job)!! No home, nothing I worked hard for for the last 15 years. BUT, I've learned soo much about myself and bankruptcy and foreclosure and divorce and mental disorders and symptoms like Her BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER!! I know all the signs of a cheater now and how to handle money in a relationship and never get a joint bank account again. The best part is....llast year was the HARDEST YEAR of my life!! BUT, IS NOW THE GREATEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!! I know and have learned soo much about myself. All the time off and alone allowed me time to read over 300 audio books and 50 normal books!! The best part is. ...iI will NEVER SEE HER AGAIN!! Thank God the death sentence was commuted!! Haha, sorry so long ;) Reply to ed Quote ed Would like to learn from your recovery and selfcare Submitted by Asha on July 20, 2020 - 5:59am Hello, I can totally relate to your experiences, For 20 plus years I went thru many similar experience, ultimately it cost me my high paying enjoyable job, severe depression brought on by this abusive narcissistic man who only concern was to build himself up financially at my expenses. His 3 children left my home without as much as a backward glance, not thank you not hug.. I am recovering from it all, by God's grace for past 7 years. Yet living life is still a major struggle..it left a big black hole, depleted finances, poor health, few friends and big time suspicion of the opposite sex..men.. Would really love to know what sorts of books you read, and the audio you listened to, Was any of that helpful in reclaiming your life. Thank you very much.. Warm regards and blessings, Asha Reply to Asha Quote Asha Sorry for your years of pain Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:04pm Sorry for your years of pain but good for you---taking your life back. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Fell in Love with someone who wanted to be Aborted Submitted by Anonymous on October 12, 2014 - 5:34am your story "brush with the devil" is eerily similar to mine unfortunately. I spent 7 years with someone who by all accounts is a 'sub-human'. I noticed this early on when I mentioned i wanted to meet her parents (to ask them their daughter's hand in marriage) she replied with "why? i want them to burn in hell!" I was aware from the get-go something was amiss with this "angel", especially when she mentioned she had a psychosis episode in her late teens where she was institutionalized in a mental hospital (against her own will). I figured with my background in the mental health field that the signs would eventually pop-up if indeed something was seriously amiss and get her help... I brushed off constantly all the disturbing comments ("i'd rather take cyanide then to talk to peoples", "i would like to try prostitution for fun", "go have sex with my underage cousins", "i dont care if its a red light i want and will drive", ETC ad nauseum) and reactions (didnt like photos, eating together/with peoples, you spoke to her she walked away mid-sentence, fell asleep while talking to her, had no clue how to deal with anything on day-to-day basis/society/relating, ETC) and thinking this was just latent teenage angst and other classical terms. She seemed like the sweetest girl i have ever met until with the help of other professionals we figured out that: she had possibly several clinical mental diseases (Bipolar, Sociopath, Psychopath, Borderline Personality, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Cognitive Dissonance, Manic Depressive, etc) but couldnt tell for sure as the doctors themselves thought she was "f**king with them" and couldnt get a clear diagnosis We tried everything, travelled to several countries to see multiple specialists, hospitals, medications, diet, moving, philosophies/beliefs, lifestyle, etc Nothing worked. The doctors including her parents (and finally me) realised she just doesnt not care about anyone, anything and might not be capable of love. But her parents (blood is thicker then water) didnt know how to deal with it and were affraid of her, so they were happy that she was "now my problem" (as they put it themselves, good grief!) She was like this her whole life (as she told me herself) and kept telling me lies upons lies, psychological abuse (that still affects me to the point ive tried suicide multiple times after we split) and blaming everyone else but herself, and when she would blame herself then she would (naturally) get "worse" I always kept hope (which i no longer believe in), faith, patience, prayed, meditated, etc and constantly my life revolved around her 'eternal shit stain' (as she eloquently put it herself) that she put on our relationship. She relished pain in all its forms, but my love never wavered (till death do us part) which eventually has taken a serious permanent toll on my life of her self-destructive path, it has drained me to the point that i am a completely different person today because of the rotting spreading cancer that she was/is Its the saddest thing ever anyone could go through and it breaks my heart Eternally. I am even writting a (extremely painful) book about this as i want other peoples Never to have to go through a real life hell like this sub-human put me through- unfortunately there are no laws to stop these creatures to propulgate their evil path unto others and god forbid she ever procreates btw all 10 of the Red Flags where here (and other flags the author failed to mention) in different extreme forms Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Thanks for telling your story Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:01pm Thanks for telling your story and I look forward to hearing about your book. I'm sure many can benefit from what you went through and what you learned as a result. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. No way in hell.... Submitted by Lisa Johnson on August 3, 2016 - 7:31pm No way in hell could the person you describe ever pass off being an "Angel"! I always doubt stories like this because when people describe others this way and claim they were "duped or didn't realize" they were this way ....well guess what you have issues as well! This sounds just like my mother-in-law who claimed my father-in-law was a psychopath when he wasn't but she herself was the one with mental issues. Reply to Lisa Johnson Quote Lisa Johnson Book? Submitted by Anon on January 3, 2017 - 11:06pm Did you finish your book? I sure would like to read it. Reply to Anon Quote Anon It's great that you were able Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:09pm It's great that you were able to break free and get your life back. A very tough life lesson to have gone through but an excellent one for your future. And even better yet is that you know that you and your life are precious. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Couldn't agree more Submitted by Kaiden on January 16, 2016 - 4:11am I went through the same thing, only wasted 2 years of my life with the same kind of person. I couldn't agree more with you about people like this. Soul less, hateful misery loves company type of people. Reply to Kaiden Quote Kaiden Why do a man say he loves you Submitted by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 7:58pm Why do a man say he loves you and when you just simply want clarification what is going on between your man and his lady office-mate (why most of their company pictures they're together) makes him elope and defensive saying - you are making your own nightmare?! Do we women, saying we are gifted of natural instinct and that we should trust our gut, be also labeled - we think too much?! The actions and words are conflicting, don't you think so?! Then, let me ask - when will be the real (pure) love begins?! Is it called love when it easily said - the spark just gone?! Is it that really easy to waste - the love. Or we just don't want to admit we barely know love?! Because i am proud late-bloomer, and i know little about love. I am still learning and i want to experience more of it. Just that, pain of being heart broken is crucial than finding the truth about love. And it keeps me asking - why love is created and why it is called love when the opposite (heart break) also exist?! Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I wish I had had a copy of Submitted by Eric Smee on August 26, 2014 - 2:58am I wish I had had a copy of this to give to each of my daughters when they were young Reply to Eric Smee Quote Eric Smee Confused Submitted by Anonymous on August 26, 2014 - 1:37pm This article was really inspiring but if there an article that tells us the red flags and then gives us solutions? For example 9. The relationship is built on the need to feel needed. That's one thing I'm completely confused about. Yes I feel I want to be needed in a relationship. Not to the point of I am taking care of him or him of me, just that I know he likes to remind me that he loves me by showing it sometimes. Not only by saying, I love you! It's hard reading articles like these, that tell you what is wrong but don't give any advice. I know all relationships work differently but there's gotta be something in common? Also how many Red Flags does it take to "OPEN ONE'S EYES" ,haha Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous I wish a short article could Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on August 26, 2014 - 4:20pm I wish a short article could give you the answers you need. I try to give an overview of a situation and to point you in the direction of some things to look for and be aware of. To clarify---being needed is important but not to the point of being needy in relationship. Also, what is a solution for one person may not apply to another. There's a lot of nuance when it comes to the way individuals experience an issue. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. how many red flags? haha? Submitted by chunky on March 28, 2015 - 8:41pm What's the joke? Reply to chunky Quote chunky Red flags uh. What to do if Submitted by Anonymous on October 11, 2014 - 10:44pm Red flags uh. What to do if you are with a woman with 40 years of past married life ... that's been 'set on a shelf' her entire life ... that has had 2 20 year marriages but never a wedding ... that has live with husbands but never a Lover ... that has had sex but never made love ... that has lived in houses but never a home ... that has the warmest (historically unappreciated, devalued) heart I've ever seen ... that doesn't know what to do with a lover of her soul (me) ... that has never been treated like the lady she is ... that is in her shell watching me from a far ... that knows I'm the best, respectful gentleman she has ever met and that loves being with her and has been 'waiting' a year for the 'dating' to start. What to do? Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Don't wait to date. She's Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 4:48pm Don't wait to date. She's obviously with you for a while now. You may know who you are and what you can offer her but she either doesn't or is too afraid to allow you in just yet. Given her history, I can understand why. Just being together may be enough for now. And perhaps, over time, your relationship will evolve into something else. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Very good insight Ms. Submitted by Anonymous on October 19, 2014 - 5:13am Very good insight Ms. Brenner. Thank you. Coupling my previous post with her childhood being one of trauma, neglect and abuse from father...that ended with an early pregnancy...cutting off any natural transition into adulthood and seemingly leaving her childhood suspended or incomplete. And lately her about-face turn from intimacy is ok, to now separate travel rooms and no over-nights, intimacy is very different. The relationship rations presently available are very scarce. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous this article Submitted by Anonymous on October 12, 2014 - 9:31am I don't think there's any relationship left if they all have to unfit this standards! Its very likely that at least 1 of your good friends or family members doesn't like your partner. It doesn't mean there is something wrong. It means they have a different taste in people then you and they can have own motives too. Not all my friends like my boyfriend. So what. Its very nice to have people making your decisions - but then better let them choose your partner in the first plays, after all, its the only way to be sure! (only, pre-arranged marriages aren't allowed, for a reason.. why go back to a bad thing.. by giving them that much power over what YOU should deceide for yourself?). Thats the worst advice to give to anyone. People should learn to think for themselves better, not let someone else, that may be inferior in judging people do it for them. Also, you have to correct your previous wrongdoings and make up for them for YOUR PARTNER? Wait, what? Everyone does bad stuff (not exclusively bad stuff, but bad stuff anyways) and you have to make up your bad stuff and keep on doing that for the rest of your life to someone who wasn't wronged by you at the time, has nothing to do with your past and isn't your god or the police? Hell fucking no you don't!! No one should enter any relationship as a forever guilt tripped slave! Very bad advice.. Seemingly mild verbally abusive behaviour as a reason for never looking back? Please, get real. Everyone who has had a bad day, felt tired, or had a very bad hangover (meaning, literally everyone) has had a temper in a reationship at least once. And probably more often then once! Say sorry, move on. If this is a reason for leaving and never looking back - everyone should be, and stay, single. Ofcourse you should both work for a relationship - but did it ever occur to you that people are very capable of getting insecure without any help from their partner, who now read your article and finally found someone to blame for it all? Also the one with the jealous and controllable behaviour - can feel insecure, which is, according to you, a reason to blame other and run. Like everything else is a reason to run. :P Great article for the shallow always feeling calimero and wronged people, who now feel acknowledged in their selfpity and trauma because their partner had a bad mood once - very ignorant article for everyone else. The lack of depth and nuance in this article is shocking. I'm going to give up my hope for humanity and go back to reading cosmopolitans now, same quality as here lately but more fun. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous +1. I hope there are more Submitted by Anonymous on October 14, 2014 - 2:45pm +1. I hope there are more people with your opinion. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Dear Anonymous, Sorry you're Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on April 25, 2015 - 8:44pm Dear Anonymous, Sorry you're so cynical. No article is meant to give the definitive answers for everyone's woes. The points in the article are merely guidelines, not solutions. Obviously, there's a lot more to life than what someone writes in an article. Try to read articles for content and nothing more. If they don't resonate with you, let them go. Ultimately, you make your own decisions. Sometimes, no outside advice is helpful. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Good and bad Submitted by Anonymous on October 12, 2014 - 9:36am I was in a marriage for right at 5 years. Four of those years were splendid, and one year was bad. I am glad that my life and experiences has more good than bad, and I appreciate the 4 good years and I will not forget it nor will I allow the 1 bad year to tarnish those 4. It is over and behind me, but perspective is a wonderful thing and the acceptance of the good vs. the bad helps mitigate the self-destructive bitterness I had about the final year. I am thankful that my life is pre-dominantly good and I can recognize that fact. Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Terrific perspective! Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:12pm Terrific perspective! Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. INSPIRING !!! Submitted by SappHIRES on October 13, 2014 - 7:02am INSPIRING !!! Reply to SappHIRES Quote SappHIRES Thank you! Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on October 14, 2014 - 5:05pm Thank you! Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. trust your gut Submitted by chunky on March 28, 2015 - 8:48pm Good article, trusting my gut on this one. Reply to chunky Quote chunky I think the red flag about Submitted by Christina on March 28, 2015 - 8:48pm I think the red flag about "friends and family not liking" your partner is wrong. I'm dealing with this right now, and it's the result of my bf's extremely possessive/jealous twin sister and mother who had done their best to sabotage our relationship and turn people against me. I've had 3 other serious rship and this has never happened! I've never had enemies and have always gotten along great w others. I think it's unfair to assume its the partner when it could be notoriously jealous siblings and mother in laws! Reply to Christina Quote Christina trust your gut Submitted by chunky on March 28, 2015 - 8:49pm Good article, trusting my gut on this one. Reply to chunky Quote chunky I wish I read this 2 years ago! Submitted by Anonymous on March 29, 2015 - 9:27am Absolutely spot on. My partner who I recently split from just last week showed virtually all of these reg flags from the very beginning, and I didn't listen to my head. It's really important that you listen to your friends and family and hear what they have to say about your partner. The warning signs are there, but you just don't want to see them and you keep holding on and hope for the better. you can talk about it with your partner and share your concerns and if they don't go to the efforts to change their damaging behaviours, get out of the relationship. I moved away with my boyfriend after 18 months of us being together to a city 200 miles away from any friends or family so I could be with him while he did his masters degree. His toxic behaviour got worse and worse and was treating me with very little to no respect with no regards to my thoughts or feelings. He did not compromise, he always had to be right and he always had to get his way. The way he used to speak to me and treat me a lot of the time was verging on abusive. He constantly put me down, and if he had a bad day and came home in a mood he'd snap and take it out on me. he'd give me the bare minimum of what I needed from a relationship, just as little and often as he needed to keep me. The longer I stayed with him, the worse he got and the harder it got to leave him. He'd have good days and bad days. Some days he's be like my best friend. We'd have a laugh like old times and I'd remember why I love him and why I'm there, and other times he'd leave me feeling worthless. It's a painful relationship to have to be in. You don't know where you stand with the person, and you are constantly questioning where you went wrong. Well, it is NOT your fault. It felt like I was holding us both together for a long time, he'd never meet me half way and I did all of the compromising just to try and keep him happy. I'd let him speak to me like sh#t and let if=t go over my head just to avoid argument or any more hurt. If this is going on in your relationship and this is how you feel, you need to find the strength like I did to let go. I'm now putting it down as a life lesson and am moving on. This year I'm going to university and I'm going to get a career and moving on in my life. You just need to realise on your own you don't deserve to be treated that way and that you are worth so much more. I never thought I could be happy without him but after 4 days straight of non stop crying, 9 days later I am looking back and thinking what a prick why on earth did I stay with him?? Reply to Anonymous Quote Anonymous Thank you. Best of luck Submitted by Abigail Brenner M.D. on April 25, 2015 - 8:49pm Thank you. Best of luck moving forward. Reply to Abigail Brenner M.D. Quote Abigail Brenner M.D. Control Freak Submitted by No name on March 29, 2015 - 2:00pm I "fell in love" with someone who I had to fight everyday with for what I believed in & for who I was. He would get mad at me when I didn't want to have sex with him, when I would schedule time to spend with my friends (even if he was invited to come with me), & he pushed my personal space boundaries - to the point where no matter what I would say or do to tell him that what he was doing was negatively affecting me, he would just turn around & use another method to keep pushing. I could go on & on & I will spare every one of you all the stupid, stupid details, but my point is that something inside of me made me feel unsure about him all the time & I just ignored it. Now, looking back, it's completely obvious our relationship was unhealthy, but when you're blind, blissful, & you're both in that honeymoon phase thinking you've found the one, the "love" of it all can really persuade you to stay in that unhealthy relationship. 'Cause he just does it because loves you so much right? You'd be crazy to want to leave him, right? I could say that I wish I could have read this article sooner so I could have spared myself some agony, but I gained so much from my experience & I can only hope that the knowledge conveyed in this article can help open some eyes & give strength & comfort to those who also felt that weird, unsure, faint-but-somehow-always-in-the back-of your-mind feeling that's telling you you would be better off by yourself. Reply to No name Quote No name Is it me? Submitted by Dave on April 17, 2015 - 6:29pm I pick women to rescue because my mother was always in a crisis. I thought recently that because I'm aware of this and its something I couldn't change I should just go with it. I have been feeling like these women aren't able to have normal relationships. Because when everything is solved they start making interpersonal problems that don't actually exist. I can't keep doing this. Its turning me into a person I don't like. All my energy goes into making her feel better. I have no energy for the things I like to do or for being with my friends. I don't even know if I still have friends actually considering how I've neglected them. The really terrible thing is I'll probably do this all over again. I'll find some woman who is always having problems and try to help and get wrapped up in her world. In the end I doubt I'm doing these women any favors really. Are some people destined to be alone or in passing relationships forever? Is there a happy ending for people like myself and the people we try to love? I certainly don't see one right now. But thanks for your article. David Reply to Dave Quote Dave rescue yourself Submitted by ed on April 25, 2015 - 11:44pm Dave, I learned I am not Jesus Crist, the savoir anymore!! I can only save myself!! I spent the first 6 months learning about her and what she had. It doesn't matter cuzz she won't change. The last year I have spent on myself!! I learned the Gary Chapman 5 love languages!! I watch Coach corey Wayne everyday on you tube#! I watch Leo at ACTUALIZE. ORG every week!! This is MY LIFE! ! I get 1 of them!! I have met some more SMOKING HOT women that have mental issues like they are drawn to me out 9 a room of 5000 people!! I really think they are!! I know me now, what I need and what I want!! I have 3 different women in my orbit!! Each I can hang out with give or cut loose! Life is short my friend! I have dreams and goals that if not in lone with theirs then no biggie I move on!! You can read my story of the last 15 yearz!! But rhe circumstances do NOT make the man they reveal him!! I know what I have to offer In life and the 4-5 close friends that weren't toxic know my loyalty! ! One woman cannot break a man!! Mine almost did!! I read this article and soo many others and now I am stronger mentally. I have multi- million dollar ideas. I have extreme confidence in myself!! The key was speaking g to EVERY CAUSED OR I COULD!! THE SHRINK gave me ZOLOFT and the personal counselor now sees me for free with no insurance!! She believes in me and soo many others Do!! It means alot!! Excuse my phrase, but 1 dirt whore will not destroy my life!! I promise to MYSELF I WILL BE SOMEONE!! And self promises are worth gold!! Ed Reply to ed Quote ed Another red flag Submitted by dhowe on July 4, 2015 - 3:36pm For you guys out there...watch out for women who frequently demand ridiculous, inflexible or unrealistic demonstrations of you loyalty. Faithfulness shouldn't be negotiable but if you feel uncomfortable with any other of her loyalty tests then she needs to redefine it to something that is reasonable (or even necessary). Many women have been raised to expect unconditional love and loyalty from a protective, paternalistic man but that's not the real world. Women should stand on their own two feet and not constantly test their partner so they feel "safe". C'mon ladies - grow up! Reply to dhowe Quote dhowe Another Red Flag Submitted by Chris K on January 18, 2019 - 3:18pm @ dhowe: you must have been the guy my ex dated for two months. You have described her perfectly. Reply to Chris K Quote Chris K article Submitted by beach sandals on February 7, 2017 - 11:26pm Appreciated your article until the end, when this was said, "Learn to trust what you feel. Your hunch is probably right." We tend to disregard or not notice the red flags because we are going by what we feel instead of what we known. Sometimes it is an outsider who helps us see the red flags because we are so emotionally vested in the relationship. Reply to beach sandals Quote beach sandals Previous Page 1 (current) Next Post Comment Your name E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Subject Comment * Notify me when new comments are posted All comments Replies to my comment Leave this field blank advertisement About the Author Abigail Brenner, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice. She is the author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life and other books. Online: Twitter Read Next 5 Reasons Why It's Important to Forgive 7 Ways to Prepare for the Death of a Loved One 10 Things to Ask Before You Commit to a Forever Relationship Is He a Bad Guy or Just Bad at Relationships? 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