Spotting Red Flags
By Frank Kermit
When you are on a date, and the person you are getting to know says or does something that triggers a well-honed instinct that you need to stop dating that person, you have just spotted a RED FLAG. Having the ability to weed out potential problem daters at an early onset is the best we can hope for. Wasting time with the wrong individual hurts everyone involved: you, the wrong individual and your ideal soul mate who does not have the opportunity to date you yet, because your time is taken up by that wrong person.
There are two types of red flags. The first is Universal Red Flags, which are general bad signs by nature, which do not depend on the context of your situation. These would include red flags such as your partner needing to get drunk or stoned before being able to commit any act of socialization or intimacy. It has nothing to do with whether or not you have any prejudice regarding drug use for your potential partners. It has to do with the fact that this kind of behavior will tend to get progressively worse over time, as your relationship continues to grow, get more intimate, and garner higher expectations from each other.
The second type of red flag to be on the look out for is Personal Red Flags. These are completely context dependent because they are based on your own personal set of boundaries and deal-breakers which you simply will not compromise on. For example, if you are deathly allergic to a particular pet, and the person you are dating practically runs an animal rescue out of their home apartment which specializes in sheltering that kind of pet, then it does not matter what ever else you both connect on, how attracted you are to each other, and how kind you both are individually. The red flag in this dilemma is more than apparent and will eventually crush any future plans. At odds in this particular example are conflicting values: a life's calling to save animals verse a person's need to stay alive.
When a red flag is based on a personal boundary, there is no room for compromise. If there is any room for compromise, then by default, it is not even a boundary, and surely not a red flag. In order to be able to spot these kinds of red flags, a person must know what the can and cannot tolerate, and also have the ability to enforce such boundaries.
How someone treats animals can be a red flag. It is well document that many serial killers started out torturing and killing animals before they escalated to humans. The way someone treats an animal, may be a sign of how they will treat a vulnerable human being.
Personal hypocrisies are another universal red. It is when a person lives with a double standard where they say one thing, but live another. For example, a person may rage against the perils of pornography but yet have their own private porn collection tucked away in a secret stash. Simply put it is an indication that there may be a repeating behavior pattern in place such that you simply cannot trust anything that person says.
Shifting boundaries is another universal red flag.
When something is unacceptable one day, and more than acceptable the next day, the confusion that this repeating behavior pattern can draw out in relationship will lead to frustration and resentment. This is not about being or not being in the mood for a certain behavior, but more to do with the level of whether or not it is acceptable. For example, let us consider humor. When you have the same basic sense of humor where your partner laughs really hard at a certain kind of joke one day, and tells you how funny it is, but then goes off the handle saying those kinds of jokes are simply not appropriate in any context the very next day with nearly the very same joke: red flag. This could be a sign of a shifting boundary, which unto itself is already a red flag, but it could potentially be a sign for something more serious that would require the competency of a trained psychotherapist.
Some universal red flags are easy to spot such as infidelity and violence in past relationships indicating there is a higher chance of it happening to you. Other universal red flags are harder to spot because of certain social norms that make the warning signs acceptable. One such red flag is Gender Bashing. Just because most people are attracted to the opposite gender does not mean that all of those same people LIKE the opposite gender. Misogyny is misogyny, whether veiled in humor or not. Male bashing is still gender hate, even if touted as an entitlement for a history of oppression. If you are dating someone that constantly bashes your gender, it is foolish to think you will be the exception in their lives for the way they interpret you and your gender identity.
If every single relationship you have ever had, and every person you have ever dated turned out to be a dud in one sense or another, then it is time to focus on the common element in every single one of those instances: the common element of YOU. It says you have not yet learned to identify red flags early enough to put the breaks on your romantic endeavors with the wrong people. However, it is never to late to start learning today
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