How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

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ndisg
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How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

I (20 F) have a boyfriend (21 M). This is my first relationship and his too. I recently heard about red flags and how people miss them so I reflected on my relationship. Unfortunately, I have anxiety and overthink a lot about everything. I'm also guilty of black and white thinking where everything is perfect and awesome, or it's the worst thing in the world. Because of this, I'm not sure if I'm evaluating my relationship properly. The only thing I know is that I'm happy with my boyfriend and like being with him. So how do I know that I'm not lying to myself and think clearly? I'm just worried that I'm missing red flags and I'm lying to myself. I also tend to fixate on things for no reason so that's another problem.

For ex: this is my thought process. I see something like "love bombing" is a red flag. Then I research love bombing. One of the tenets is excessive compliments. In the beginning, he would compliment me a lot, but now it's more standard and consistent even if it less. I look at this, then think "am I justifying love bombing or is there nothing red-flaggy and I'm just explaining a situation to myself".

Basically, I want to know how do I figure out if I'm missing red flags/bad things in our relationship because I don't trust my judgement
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Carly »

Hey ndisg -- I totally feel you on this because I'm currently experiencing something similar as I try to understand narcissism. Truth is, sometimes words or terms that have been created in order to more helpfully describe experiences or trauma make their way into popular culture. And sometimes, not everyone uses those terms the same way... which then turns into confusion or questioning our experiences. "Lovebombing" - as you have noticed - resembles the beginning of a relationship or having a crush: you're talking a lot, there's a lot of compliments, etc. The difference is "lovebombing" is used to establish a false feeling of closeness prematurely or too quickly, and is often followed by manipulative, disrespectful behavior such as pushing clear boundaries or acting cruelly toward you. Scarleteen has a few guides you can look at to determine what's going on in your relationship, which you can find here. Take a look and let us know what you think.

I also struggle a lot with trusting my perspective and perception. Have you ever thought about where that comes from?
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

I’m not sure actually. I’ve always been the kind of person that second guesses themselves and can’t really make decisions. I also think that sometimes I’m afraid that if there’s something bad then it’s the worst thing in the world so I convince myself that everything is very good. I have trouble realizing that there are levels of badness and not everything is the worst.

Also, I did look at the articles provided by scarleteen. The only major issue I found through that was me spending too much time with him. I also spent time away from him but sometimes I couldn’t stop thinking about my boyfriend. One of my friends also mentioned that we spend too much time together. IMO, there’s nothing manipulative here because we both want to spend time together and he doesn’t try to stop me from doing other things. I did tell him about this and we agreed to take a break. We then came up with a schedule where we meet each other less. But once again I’m worried, am I missing something there etc etc.

Another smaller issue is sometimes we disagree on events that happened in the past. We’ll both go “you don’t remember this”/“ that did not happen”. But if provided with evidence he will admit fault if he’s wrong/if I’m wrong. I’ve heard that gaslighting is when people make you question your reality. Is this it? It doesn’t feel like it to me because I never end that conversation feeling confused or anything.
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Sofi »

What you're describing doesn't sound like gaslighting, although I have no way to know for sure, but it sounds like simple misunderstandings that happen between people. Same with the amount of time you spend together - spending a lot of time together, and "a lot" is relative, isn't inherently a bad thing or a "red flag". If you read the articles and couldn't find anything else that applies to your relationship, I think you're doing pretty well. I do think this could be something you can bring up to him if it keeps stressing you out, you can open up to him and tell him you've been worrying about this, it might give you some reassurance and validation and bring you two closer.
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

Final question I have is what is disrespect in a relationship? Is two people teasing each other disrespect? We tease each other and there are times where I don't like it. But I point it out and he doesn't repeat it. But is teasing each other a problem? We also "call out" "bad opinions" we have in an exaggerated manner and playfully argue about them. Is that bad? I don't think so but I don't think I trust myself enough to believe my answer.
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Sam W »

I don't think teasing or playing around in that way is a red flag, provided that it isn't a way for one person to constantly insult the other under the guise of being "just a joke" and it's a dynamic where both people are able to say "hey, that was too far, please don't do that again." Since it sounds like that's something you're able to do with him, I wouldn't call it a red flag in this instance.
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

I think my biggest worry is this. We’ve been close friends before dating and as friends we would spend a lot of time together with our friend group. Once we started dating, we continued that. I think we both realized that it was too much time. Adding to this, I feel like I’ve gotten “too close” to him in a very short amount of time. He also seems very close to me. Is this normal for a first relationship? Especially with a friend? I’ve read that this can be part of emotional manipulation but he doesn’t seem manipulative in other ways. But I’m just confused and worried.
Sofi
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Sofi »

If you were friends before you started dating then I don't think there's emotional manipulation or any red flags going on. It makes sense that since you had a friendship already, you'd get close faster as a couple.
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

It's just that ever since I've read up on these things, I've been hyper-vigilant about finding red-flags in relationships. For ex, the biggest one for me is love bombing. In the first few weeks we would spend a lot of time together and gave each other a lot of compliments. But then we realized that we spend too much time together, and it's not being used in the best way. So we decided to take a break and came up with a plan.

Even though this improved our relationship (doing more interactive things to get to know each other better, spending time away as well as together etc.). We still give compliments to each other but it is less than before. I don't think it was love bombing but I'm very worried that I AM being love bombed and I'm just rationalizing it and pretending it's ok.

I think, for the most part, our relationship is pretty healthy but I'm constantly worried that I'm missing red flags and realize too late that this is a bad relationship. I'm not sure what to do and it's causing a lot of stress.

Another thing I've noticed is that I constantly look for reassurance from outside sources because I don't trust my judgement.
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

It's just that ever since I've read up on these things, I've been hyper-vigilant about finding red-flags in relationships. For ex, the biggest one for me is love bombing. In the first few weeks we would spend a lot of time together and gave each other a lot of compliments. But then we realized that we spend too much time together, and it's not being used in the best way. So we decided to take a break and came up with a plan.

Even though this improved our relationship (doing more interactive things to get to know each other better, spending time away as well as together etc.). We still give compliments to each other but it is less than before. I don't think it was love bombing but I'm very worried that I AM being love bombed and I'm just rationalizing it and pretending it's ok.

I think, for the most part, our relationship is pretty healthy but I'm constantly worried that I'm missing red flags and realize too late that this is a bad relationship. I'm not sure what to do and it's causing a lot of stress.

Another thing I've noticed is that I constantly look for reassurance from outside sources because I don't trust my judgement.

Final thing is I need explanation of what a red flag is? How do I differentiate between normal human flaws and GLARING RED FLAGS? I'm just worried that what if even the smallest of things will turn out to be horrible things in the future.

Edit: oops tried to edit my previous post looked like I just responded to it
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Heather »

Hey there.

I wonder: have you had a conversation about these concerns with your partner? If not, I think that that would be a good next step.

You can initiate that conversation with something like, "I came into our relationship uneducated about warning signs for, and general information about, unhealthy relationships. So, even though I think we're pretty great, I have been finding myself really concerned that I am missing something. Could you help me kind of keep an eye on our relationship to be sure it is something we're both making and doing as healthily as possible? can you let me know if you pick up on anything that suggests I, you, or both of us aren't?"

If your partner engages with that kind of conversation without anger, resentment or manipulation -- including outright refusal -- then not only is it pretty likely you're with someone dedicated to making something good, and being a good, safe partner in it, but hopefully knowing it isn't just you on the lookout can help you relax that hypervigilance some.

What do you think?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

Hello Heather,

Thank you for your advice. I tried to talk to him, but unfortunately it sounded like I was accusing him of being a toxic partner without providing any evidence (even though that was not my intention). I did clear up that I'm just anxious about our relationship but didn't go about it in the way you're talking about.

I think the way you've approached it is much better and I will try to do that.

Thank you very much
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Heather »

Sorry that first attempt didn't go so well. How about we check in again after you try this approach?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

I just talked to him now. He basically reiterated some of the problems we found in our relationship (spending too much time together etc.) and he also brought up things that he does I don't like and also some things I do he doesn't like. Then he said, "don't worry I'll continue to keep an eye". I think it went well and there was no antagonism.

Thank you for you advice
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Sofi »

Glad to hear it went well for you and he didn't get defensive, that's a good sign. It's always okay for couples to talk about issues in the relationship such as specific things they're unhappy with or that concern them, as long as you're doing it with respect and transparency.
ndisg
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by ndisg »

Final update.

We broke up :(. It was my first relationship so a lot of my firsts were with this person. We realized that this was going to be a temporary relationship any way because of outside circumstances. So it's better to call it off earlier than later. But I am very sad because I really liked being with him. But this is probably for the best

Thank you for your help. It really helped me figure out a lot of things
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Re: How do I know I'm not missing red flags?

Unread post by Elise »

Hi there ndisg, sorry to hear that it's a bit rough at the moment for you. It is totally okay to feel sad about a relationship ending, even if you know it is the best decision. We have some resources on our main site that you may find useful at this time (our main site is dark at the moment but will be available in a couple of days): You may also find these resources useful in the meantime: Hang in there, and if you have any other questions or advice you'd like on this, please don't hesitate to ask.
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