Relationship Red Flags

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By Thamashni Naidoo ;   Published in “The Greyhound”

Here are some warning signs that you need to be wary of in your relationship.

Are you seeing warning signs?  Do you feel as though your partner is unhappy and is about to end the relationship? In a long-term relationship, it’s easier to tell if there is something wrong – you will notice changes in mood, personality, the way your partner reacts to you, lack of communication and a whole lot of other obvious signs. If the relationship hasn’t been going on for very long, it’s not easy to spot tell-tale signs of a break-up, but it’s not impossible.

Relationship expert Melanie Hall says that learning a good, solid compassionate means of communication is key to building a strong foundation. “Compassionate or non-violent communication is what I teach couples. It is the foundation that one needs for a relationship to grow and weather the storms. It’s all about hearing your partner’s needs and feelings, without becoming defensive, blaming the next person or being judgemental.” Your intuition should play the biggest role in seeing red flags being propped up, but if you feel there is no way to tell, then read on.

Improve what you already have

There are certain things in a relationship that can be worked on to improve the connection between you and your partner. Some of the things that affect your relationship, which can be changed, include:

  •  Jealousy
  •  Wastefulness
  •  Selfishness
  •  Focusing on the Not sharing the same
  •  Constant anger

In order to tackle these aspects of your relationship, you will both need to sit down and talk through the issues. There may be a few from the list above, or all of them, and they need to be tackled appropriately. Melanie agrees: “Any conflict situation is created when one or both partners’ needs are not being met. If there is jealousy, for instance, one has to ask whether the other partner is behaving in a way to create jealousy or whether there are personal history issues that have not been resolved. This, naturally, will cause the jealous partner to be insecure and in turn demonstrate jealously.” And likewise, the same notion will work for any aspect in improving your relationship. If, after discussing the problem, nothing changes, then a third party, such as a counsellor or a close mutual friend, will need to intervene. Sometimes hearing about your own problems from someone else makes things clearer to both partners. “Our beliefs and thoughts create many situations in our internal dialogue and we need to get to the root of the hidden beliefs, which create part of our reality. Many of these hidden beliefs are not based on truth, but rather on thoughts, perceptions and beliefs passed down by families and society, coupled with incidents in our lives. For example: Men or women are not to be trusted.”
With that, couples need to decide that they are going to make the change and actually go ahead and do so. “We need to include the needs of your partner when making a decision. That also means making your needs or decisions known in a gentle, loving way. We can’t expect our partners to know what we want or expect if we don’t share our ideas and expectations,” Melanie adds.

“Non-defensive communication can clear many misconceptions – the one most damaging practise in a relationship… to assume that we know what or why our partners are behaving in a certain way. Rather ask questions and share your honest feelings, without blame.”

Some things can’t be changed

Then there are those things in your relationship that are more serious and can’t be fixed so easily. These things break relationships, but whether the two parties choose to stay together and work things out is up to them. Some of things include:

  • Cheating
  • One partner does not want to get married and the other does
  • You come from different backgrounds/cultures/religions

When it comes to incidents in your relationship that will affect your future with our partner, then it is not to be taken lightly. Some things just cannot be undone, so it is how you go about handling it that will determine where you stand in the relationship and with that person.
When it comes to cheating, Melanie says that the hurt never seems to go away. “It always leaves the other partner lacking in trust and with the thought that they are never good enough.” The reason for cheating is that one partner is lacking something in the relationship – be it mental, physical or emotional. “One or more needs in the marriage expectation have not been met, so the cheating partner seeks it elsewhere. But you can never tell the other person to stay in the relationship or leave.  Without trust, the relationship can never function in a healthy way again.”
In the case of the other two points on being ready for marriage when the other isn’t, as well as coming from different backgrounds, there are many solutions. Talk it over. If you love one other enough to spend the rest of your lives together, there will have to be some middle ground. Compromise and come together to find a way to make the relationship work. It’s never easy to deal with mixed feelings about serious things, but talking it over will help you to decide where you want to be, and where you are both headed.

Abusive relationships

There is no wrong answer when it comes to abuse. Your only option is to get out of the relationship. Abuse can be anything from physical and emotional abuse to verbal and sexual abuse. You are the keeper of your own body and no one is allowed to do with it as they please. If you are in an abusive relationship and can’t get out, call a counsellor, close friend or family member for help. The police will also assist you. Walk away and be with someone who will respect you and treat you with dignity and care.

“We can give, give way, but not give away parts of ourselves in the process,” Melanie asserts.
Any relationship involves give and take with the daily intention to please your partner. “Use ‘I’ messages rather than ‘you’ messages, which are loaded with blame. Rather say how the other person’s behaviour is affecting you and how it makes you feel,” Melanie concludes.