The last two years, I went back into the dating scene and I learned a ton of things. I found some bad seeds, but I also found some good ones, too. When it comes to dating in this age and time, I find that a lot of people are simply frustrated and I totally get that.
When it comes to dating around, you are going to find some bad people or people who are not right for you; that is just how the dice rolls. However, no matter what situation you are in, it is very important to arm yourself with the knowledge of what a good relationship is and what a bad one especially is. Below I will be comparing my worst relationship to the best relationship that I have had so far.
Right out of my marriage, I entered an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist filled with red flags. I stayed because I was naïve and I wanted the best. I also was afraid of being alone so I fully settled on this person. I ignored those red flags and they cost me a year of my life, plus anxiety, depression, and more. It was the worst relationship (and year) that I ever had. This is why I am starting with red flags first so that you can leave as soon as possible if you notice too many.
THEY ARE POSSESSIVE.
- They’re easily jealous of anyone else you spend time with.
- They tell you who you can and can’t talk to.
- They ask for your social media or email passwords and look through your phone.
- They feel entitled to your time and get angry when you can’t always be there.
- They feel entitled to your body and break boundaries.
- They pressure you into getting serious quickly.
In my “red flag” relationship, my partner would get jealous of me spending time with my friends and sometimes even of my own children. He would go through my social media and interrogate me about men who liked my posts and tell me who to delete ‘or else.’ He did not respect any of my boundaries and often gave me ultimatums. He also tried talking me into buying a home together one month after dating/meeting. If I ever wanted me time, he would feel insecure.
THEY CONSTANTLY PUT YOU DOWN.
- Eye rolling.
- Name calling.
- Guilt tripping.
- Criticizing you (and then saying, ‘I’m just joking!’) or making fun of you.
- Holding you to unrealistic standards and putting you down when you don’t measure up.
- Belittling you.
- Making condescending remarks.
If you are constantly being criticized by your partner, this is called emotional abuse. Even though it’s abuse, it is often swept under the rug or ignored in order to avoid conflict. These are also some key characteristics of a narcissistic relationship. I would always be made to feel guilty about choosing to spend time with my friends and family instead of said person. I would constantly be name-called by him and made to feel as if I was constantly in the wrong.
THEY ARE CONTROLLING.
- Demanding to know where you are.
- Trying to control who you hang out with.
- Throwing a fit when you don’t do what they want.
I felt as if I were a puppet in this relationship, being controlled nonstop. I had to put up with threats of breakups on a weekly basis. He would say we were breaking up, block me on social media, and then unblock me to come back. It was a huge form of manipulation that quite literally almost drove me crazy. One year he tried to tell me that my kids’ father could not come to MY house for their birthday party. When I stood up to him, he made another threat such as he would no longer show up. This is called manipulation, folks. If you feel as if you aren’t living your own life anymore or making your own choices, chances are you are being controlled.
THEY ARE DISHONEST.
- They cheat on you.
- They lie about their whereabouts or what they are doing.
- They even lie about the little things.
I would constantly catch my partner lying. He was also a big time cheater and would even lie/gaslight his way out of it when I found proof of him reaching out to a sex worker. They literally just can’t tell the truth, even when they are caught.
THEY LACK RESPONSIBILITY.
- Getting defensive easily.
- Shifting the blame on you.
- Playing the victim card.
- Saying things like, “This is just how I am,” and “I’m like this because…”
- Refusing to apologize.
When they are in the wrong, they don’t really like to apologize. When I caught my narcissist ex cheating, he said sorry once and got mad at me because it took me months to trust him again (as if it were my fault). Sure, he did say sorry. But I did not feel it was genuine. Most times, when you are dealing with this type of person, it is not. You know a true apology when you hear one. Nothing is ever their fault and that gets old quick.
THEY ARE UNPREDICTABLE.
- Your partner’s moods and reactions are volatile and always changing.
- You can’t predict how they’re going to respond to anything.
- You find yourself praying that they’re in a good mood today.
- You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
Being moody is one thing, sure. We have our good days and bad days. However, when it changes every single day and their bad moods at aimed at you, that is an issue. I walked on eggshells because when I had an issue, he would get mad at me for bringing it up. It was hard to talk to him about things that bothered me because he would deflect that issue back onto me without acknowledging it. Such as the scenario above when I told him he was not allowed to control my kids’ birthday party guest list. He then reacted in a rage over the phone and told me he was going to put my dog Marlow out on the street. This is not okay, it is abusive. Don’t put up with that.
As you’ve seen, these are some classic red flags to know and watch for. If there’s just one or two, it may be worked out. But if you are noticing a ton of them and things are not getting better, or if you cannot talk to your partner about them while feeling safe and heard, you have to find a way to leave.
Now, on to the good stuff. The green flags may feel weird at first to someone who’s been traumatized in a relationship filled with red flags. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with what IS truly healthy while dating someone.
YOU CAN BE YOURSELF.
- No judgement.
- The relationship feels freeing instead of strained.
- You like who you are with them.
- You have healthy hobbies.
- You don’t lose yourself.
This is so important. If your partner cannot allow you to be you, then you are not right for them. You should never have to sacrifice who you are or lose yourself to make someone else happy or to ‘bring peace’ to a relationship. I love that my fiancé loves my weirdness and terrible singing. I feel so safe with him and I don’t feel any sense of inadequacy. I don’t feel judged by him.
YOU CAN OPENLY COMMUNICATE.
- You handle any disagreements in a healthy way.
- You feel heard and seen.
- You find a resolution together.
- Your partner does not undermine you or talk over you.
- You work through issues together.
My fiancé and I do clash heads sometimes. Who doesn’t? However, I usually always feel seen and heard because he actually LISTENS to me. I love it! We made a pact to never go to bed angry and we have kept that going since we met. Even if he does get angry, he doesn’t make me feel small.
YOU FEEL CHALLENGED IN A GOOD WAY.
- They push you to do better and be great.
- They motivate and inspire you.
- They light a good “fire” within you.
My fiancé challenges me to be the best person that I can be. He challenges me to get healthier, be a better mom, grow my business, and to find what makes me happy. We both equally inspire each other and it is the greatest thing. If your person isn’t helping you grow, your relationship could become stale. Seek to push each other to higher places.
YOU FEEL RESPECTED.
- There’s no name calling or cursing at one another. Instead you speak to each other with love and dignity.
- There is no yelling or outburst.
- There is no cursing towards one another.
- You feel important and honored.
A lack of respect is very clear. It is in the way someone treats you or even speaks to you. Someone who clearly respects you will not try to put you down nor hurt your feelings in any way.
YOU AREN’T CONFUSED.
- There is clarity within the relationship.
- You know where your partner stands and vice versa.
- You know the status of the relationship at all times.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist left me so lost. I did not know whether we would be together one day to the next because things were always so back and forth. I lost who I was and never felt more confused in my life. But in a healthy relationship, you will know where you stand with that person and can rely on a steady future.
YOU ARE SUPPORTED.
- You can turn to your partner when you are in need.
- Your partner is your biggest fan.
- Your partner is there for support and you feel you can lean on them.
One of the biggest green flags is feeling as if you are on the same team with your partner. Often times, when red flags are present, you can feel as if it is you against them. But you should always be able to count on your other half no matter what, even when mistakes happen.
I hope these red and green flags help you with your relationship. I’ve been through it all and I am happy to share with you that good people (and green flags) exist!
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sia Cooper of Diary of a Fit Mommy. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Sia:
‘I wasn’t allowed to have male friends. I caught him messaging not one, but two escorts on a work trip using a fake name. In a year, we broke up 10 times.’: Woman urges ‘look for the red flags’ after escaping narcissist
‘I was 22 and wanted to feel feminine. My husband said breast implants would help ‘spice things up.’: Woman removes implants after plagued by Breast Implant Illness, ‘Removing them gave me the confidence I lacked for years’
‘It’s a girl!’ My heart sank. On the way home from my gender reveal, I cried. Hard. I was hoping it was some mistake.’: Woman candidly shares reality of ‘gender disappointment’ after years of mother’s abuse
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