Are you mistaking glaring red flags for endearing compliments in your relationship?
There’s nothing like that new-relationship high, but unfortunately the euphoria of a new relationship can blind us to potential red flags. Have you ever been with someone who seems too good to be true in the beginning only to realize later that person was unhealthy, or even toxic? Oftentimes as we look back, picking up the pieces, it is easy to think there were no warning signs. Frequently there are warning signs. They were just masquerading as incredibly flattering, romantic rhetoric while your guard was down.
Here are a few relationship wolves hiding in sheep’s clothing:
1) I don’t know what I would do without you.
It can feel good to be needed and appreciated. Healthy adults, however, should be able to function autonomously. Some people literally don’t know what to do when they aren’t in a relationship. Oftentimes these people may have a pattern of jumping from one partner to another, moving very quickly, and generating a victim-rescuer dynamic.
2) You make me so happy; I’ve never been this happy.
Even the most dysfunctional relationships– and sometimes, especially the most dysfunctional relationships– start off with happiness that can border on euphoria. Does your new partner have any internal control over her emotions? Does he have a sense of self-worth independent of you and his role in the relationship? A partner who gives you all the credit for his happiness today is the same partner who will blame you for all of his sadness and anger down the road.
3) You are so different from my ex. What a relief.
Trashing an ex-partner is disrespectful and can also reveal relationship patterns that tend to play out again in future relationships. Also a red flag, playing the comparison game. Do you want to be appreciated for your unique attributes and positive qualities, or for not having undesirable qualities that belonged to the guy before you? These types of comparisons basically serve to invite a third-party (albeit an invisible one) into your relationship and discount what you have to offer.
4) I love being around you so much that I want to spend all of my time with you.
There is a difference between wanting to spend all of your time with someone and needing to spend all of your time with that person. Oftentimes clinginess, jealousy, possessiveness, and even abusive tendencies go undetected because at the beginning of a relationship it is common for both partners to want to be around each other as much as possible. How does your new love interest react when you choose to spend time with other people or do an activity alone? If your partner is demanding of your time, threatened by your independent interests or is overly anxious and worried when you are not physically together, it might be time to pay closer attention or move on.
5) You’re perfect.
Nobody is perfect. In the best relationships, each partner is loved and accepted despite his flaws, not because he is flawless. Likewise, in the best relationships, each partner has room to make mistakes, and experience forgiveness. If your new love interest considers you perfect, ask yourself: Do I want my partner to love the real me, or an ideal, unrealistic version of me that he or she has invented?
Some of the most toxic relationships start off seeming as if they are too good to be true. Stay alert, pay attention, and watch out for enthralling rhetoric that could be signs of future dysfunction.
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Photo: Flickr/Simon Powell