Relationship red flags
From a blog by The Institute of Family Studies
Jason Whiting, Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Texas Tech University, in his research into deception, communication, and abuse in relationships, has identified six warning signs that indicate a relationship is in trouble.
Even the brightest and most passionate relationships can get derailed. Some relationships are planted in rocky soil from the start, but others develop weeds or die from neglect. Six problems are particularly important to root out before they do permanent damage:
Distance or Lack of Emotion. It is natural for the initial headiness of love to wear off. However, it is possible to revive emotional sparks that have gone dormant. One study showed that couples who went on interesting dates, such as rock climbing or taking Italian lessons for about eight weeks, experienced greater feelings of closeness and affection than those who stuck to traditional dinner dates. If you have lost that loving feeling, do things together, act kind, and the love will follow.
Sarcasm and Disrespect. It is fun to laugh, and humour bonds couples together and keeps things fresh. However, if jokes turn sarcastic or cutting, they will damage the relationship. All forms of contempt and cruelty harm both partners, and often lead to divorce. Both partners need to show self-control and be respectful in words and tone.
Lack of Trust. Couples who are getting to know each other often stretch the truth, especially when trying to impress. They might be falsely enthusiastic or claim to love the same things. One study found that strangers lied several times in the first 10 minutes of talking. When you meet somebody for the first time you are not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative. As relationships progress, however, people need to be authentic to develop true intimacy. Although some fudging may occur in relationships, all lies damage trust, and a willingness to deceive is a red flag. When trust has been lost, it takes time and energy to regain.
Unwillingness to Compromise. Healthy couples take turns accommodating and negotiating. Different opinions do not cause divorces, but the way these differences are handled might. If partners aren’t willing to be open and accept the other’s ideas, they are in a competition. This winner-versus-loser pattern shows up in abusive relationships, where one partner feels entitled to force their preferences on the other. In contrast, healthy relationships feature a balanced give and take.
Lack of Intimacy. An intimate relationship is one where people share themselves emotionally, intellectually, and physically. Some individuals close themselves off when feeling negative or unsafe. This can contribute to a vicious cycle, as putting up barriers leads to further distance and resentment. The cycle can be reversed through sharing meaningful words, emotions, and touches, which generates a sense of closeness and safety.
Control and Manipulation. It is normal to negotiate with and make requests of one another, but partners should not try to force the other to feel or do certain things. Trying to control one’s partner ends in abuse. Individuals who controlled their partners through blame, guilt trips, pressure, and threats always fan the flames of conflict. Whether or not there is violence, partners who feel unsafe, degraded, or damaged should seek help and change directions.
What to do if there are red flags?
The good news is relationships are always changing,and can change for the better. If you see warning signs in your relationship, make a plan with your partner, and seek help through books, classes, or couples’ therapy. Unhealthy relationships can revive, and even habits of abuse and control can be broken if both partners are motivated and find assistance. By working together, couples can stop the downward slide and walk back up the path of relationship success.
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