This past year, Eric and I wrote a book titled: “So You Want to be a Fiancée?: How pre-engagement counseling can change your life.” During this series, we are highlighting a handful of chapters! Today, we’re looking at the twelfth chapter: Relationship Red Flags
What is a red flag? Red flags are tell-tale signs that pop up in your relationship, warning you to take extreme caution in moving forward toward marriage with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
If your boyfriend gets angry every time you look in the general direction of another guy, that is a red flag warning you that this guy is extremely insecure and may have a tendency to act out on his insane jealously – even to the point of harming you or someone else.
If your girlfriend is constantly breaking dates with you to spend time with her friends, that is a red flag that she is either taking your relationship for granted or is not interested in any long term commitments – neither scenario being good for you. If she is ditching dates with you because she is always rushing to the aid of a friend or family member “in crisis,” you and she would need to have a serious talk about boundaries.
In the twelfth chapter of So You Want to be a Fiancée?, we cover twenty red flags to look out for and we will cover three of them in this post.
One of the biggest concerns that springs to my mind is when I see the propensity for abuse in a relationship. When I was quite young, I had a friend with an incredibly bad temper. He was often paranoid that his girlfriend was making eyes at other guys or that other guys were trying to get to her.
One night, she told him that a mutual friend of theirs kissed her on the cheek and he hit the roof of his car with his fist. His response was a little out of line, but my concern was: What if there had been nothing else to hit? Would he have taken it out on his girlfriend? His deep insecurities mixed with his bad temper created the perfect storm for an angry, potentially abusive outburst.
Not all abuse is physical. Mental and emotional abuses are also big negatives (and, therefore, red flags). If your significant other is whispering hateful comments in your ears, playing mind games with you, or constantly embarrassing or humiliating you in front of others, you are being abused. And if you are doing it to your boyfriend or girlfriend, you are being abusive. If you are dating someone who continually seeks to cause you pain (or even continual irritation), that is a red flag.
We will all react in anger at times, but if abusive behavior is a way of life, consider that a glowing red flag and walk… no, run away from the relationship. If he or she is abusive now, research shows it will only get worse after marriage, no matter how much he or she tries to reassure you that it will get better once you are married.
Some people are more prone to flirtatious behavior than others. Certain personalities are natural-born flirts; however, there is a major difference between innocently flirting and calculated flirting.
If you are dating someone who flirts with other guys or girls in front of you, it is probably a ploy to make you jealous. Whether it is an attempt for him or her to make you prove how much you care or a simple act of revenge, it is a red flag. Mature couples can work through their issues without having to take the peace out of each other’s minds.
When Eric and I argue, I am not worried that he is out flirting with other women. I have peace of mind that we will get over the bump in the road. Flirting in front of your boyfriend or girlfriend is a form of psychological abuse. It says, “You had better watch it and do whatever I want or you might lose me.” That is not love. That is completely self-seeking and anyone who employs such tactics is not ready to be someone’s husband or wife. Marriage is for adults and there is no room for childish games in a relationship that is heading towards a lifetime commitment.
Constantly Talking about an Ex-Boyfriend or Girlfriend
Okay, confession time. When I was a teenager, I started dating someone at the suggestion of a few church members. They were so sure we would be perfect for each other – we were not. Eventually, I think we both knew it, but what if these church members had heard from God and we were meant to be together?!?! ~smile~ Perhaps one of the biggest problems with our relationship, outside of the fact that we were a terrible match, was the fact that I would not shut up about my ex-boyfriend with him.
I began dating this guy very shortly after another relationship ended and I was not over that previous relationship. This poor guy, whose only crime was not having a personality that complemented mine, ended up sitting through story after story about how my ex-boyfriend had hurt me and done me wrong.
Sure, I was not talking about my ex-boyfriend as if he was my knight in shining armor (and he certainly wasn’t), but the fact that I was still talking about him meant he was still on my mind. I think this was a red flag for my new “flame.” When he broke off our relationship he told me to get over my ex and then maybe we could try again. ~smile~ In retrospect, he made a very wise decision and it was best for both of us!
Have You Noticed Any Red Flags?
Have you noticed any red flags in your relationship? How about in your friends’ relationships? Red flags can seem frustrating at the time because we want our relationships to work so badly; yet, couples who ignore them are sorry somewhere between 99.9% and 100% of the time.
If some small red flags are springing up, talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about them. Can they be worked through and reconciled? Will you be able to put them aside and not worry about them later – or, will you constantly live in fear of the problem resurfacing (e.g., drug addictions, unfaithfulness, etc.)? Be very honest with yourself about whether or not you could continue in the relationship, even if the red flag never disappeared.
If you have giant red flags whipping in the wind, do not hesitate to seek help and get away from him or her. It is better to trust God and be alone for a while than to remain with someone who is causing you harm or who is likely to cause you harm – mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical.
For more on red flags in relationships, check out our book So, You Want to be a Fiancée? And if you have a question about a potential red flag in your relationship, feel free to contact us and we will answer your question on our PreEngaged mailbag video!
Check us out on next time on our last post in this series where we debunk some counseling myths!
Have you noticed any red flags in your relationship?