What are the real ‘red flags’?

‘Red flags’ and now even apparently, green and beige flags too. 

Whether it’s just gossip at the pub or the poolside chats of love island, the idea of defining a tiny part of someone’s behaviour as making them someone to avoid or to pursue, is undeniably impacting our dating scene today.

But really, what are the actual ‘Red flags’ when navigating a new relationship, and how can we spot early signs of a relationship having a not so fairy-tale ending?

Tabitha Bast is a psychosexual and relationship therapist, here to tell us her intel on the latest cancel culture trend.

‘’There’s a lot more awareness of unhealthy relationships nowadays, which is a good thing on the whole but sometimes can be taken to extremes”, she says. 

Tabitha thinks the problem with the ‘red flag’ trend we are seeing and repeating, is it can undermine unhealthy relationships by assuming anything not absolutely perfect is a problem.

‘’There will always be times when a friend or partner won’t listen to you when you’re talking about something, or be distracted, or look at someone attractive on the street’’ says Tabitha, 50.

She believes that  jokey red flags are fine, but if you take them too seriously they can close you off to all future relationships.

‘’A new romantic relationship should be navigated the way a non-romantic relationship is. Relationships are built, not made, which takes time. So when you meet a new friend, you wouldn’t just present a list of what you demand in the friendship, you’re not buying something ready made from a shop”, Tabitha says.

‘’Sometimes the fear of any uncomfortable feelings is termed as “feeling unsafe” when it’s just feeling awkward or not a good fit. There’s a very human desire to protect ourselves from any kind of pain or sorrow, but in reality relationships involve a massive range of emotions including annoyance and disappointment. 

Any relationship that is just fun and easy and never difficult is likely to be a short lived one.’’

Tabitha reminds us though,  if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, or pushed into something, do stop the date and don’t feel guilty about telling them you won’t be meeting up again. Safety always comes first.

Tabitha outlines some of the real, not-so jokey red flags we should really be looking out for in a new or long term relationship :

  • Anyone who pushes you into things you don’t want to do, in any scenario.
  • When the relationship doesn’t seem equal and mutual, either it’s all on their terms or all on yours.
  • Contempt rather than respect – which doesn’t necessarily mean a bit of jokey banter isn’t ok, but when it’s deliberate put downs that upset you.

On the other side of the coin, here is some of Tabitha’s ‘green flags’, some questions you may wish you ask yourself if you think you have met a great match:

  • Do they make an effort with the other people in your life and encourage you to build those relationships…are you doing the same for them?
  •  Do you find them interested in your life outside of the relationship? And are you interested in theirs? 
  • And both interested in seeing where the relationship is going? Are you both bringing more joy and laughter and warmth into each other’s lives? 
  • Are you both as curious about each other’s vulnerabilities as you are each other’s bodies? Do you both have a shared idea of what the relationship is – or what it might be going to be – even if that’s not nailed down (you don’t need to be planning your kid’s names in ten years to have a sense of where it’s headed!)

‘’Crucially, relationships should be about growth and trust, so if you both feel you can turn to the other one to have your back, and to share with each other the bits about yourselves that you sometimes worry about then you might be on to a good thing’’, says Tabitha.

Tabitha Bast’s blog, for more info can be found here: theboysarealright.substack.com

Read more on all things relationships, click here : Friends, Family and Flings – Messy (jusmedia.co.uk)

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