Advice on what to look out for before starting a serious relationship, from experts or even from people with romantic experience, can help develop emotional maturity and awareness. However, the current saturation of topics like emotional and physical abuse within relationships has made people very aware of some of the more obvious red flags in relationships.
Things like name calling, dishonesty, different moral values and general physical abuse, while not necessarily easy to see, are much more widely recognized. Coordinator for the Center for Women and Gender Equity, Jamie Włosowicz, believes that while the above abuse patterns are dangerous, some of the other less discussed red flags are those that could also be seen as green flags.
“You almost have to deal with things on a case by case basis. Because a lot of abusive or toxic things are a lot more complex than people think,” Wlosowicz said.
Below are a list of some of the types of green flags that could also easily turn into red flags or could be interpreted as abusive.
1. Spending a lot of time together
The beginnings of relationships can be very exciting. This excitement usually leads to spending a lot of time with each other and, while not necessarily neglecting other relationships, can lead to them being seen as less important for the beginning stages of the relationship. This, on the one hand, can be seen as something good because it could easily be interpreted as a mutual sense of affection. However, this amount of attention could easily alienate one from their typical support groups such as family or friends.
2. Social media jealousy
A certain amount of jealousy in any relationship can be a genuine sign of affection, as it would be strange for a partner not to miss their significant other. However, in the internet age, this can become complicated when things such as liking another person’s picture can become a massive conspiracy. This kind of attachment to social media can, of course, be interpreted positively as a sign of genuine care. On the other hand, it would also be seen as an early indicator of a controlling personality.
3. High physical attraction
Much like the first trait, spending a lot of time together, this does not sound malicious. Physical attraction is important in relationships and can greatly strengthen it. Yet, finding out if the partner in question is interested in the non-physical aspects of the relationship first is important as well. Not finding common ground emotionally can lead to hurt feelings and egos.
4. Constantly praising you, but degrading themselves
It is important for people in a relationship to see each other as equals and not as one being out of the others’ “league.” This kind of language appearing often is a clear sign of low self-opinion on part of the partner, which can have detrimental effects down the line. The trouble is that it can sound very good to have someone you are attracted to say flattering things. It is important to recognize that if these things come attached to self degradation it is certainly not healthy.
5. Total absence of conflict
Relationships include at least two persons, therefore there must be at least two perspectives. Those two perspectives will not always line up and can lead to conflict. If that conflict is healthy, it can lead to a better understanding of the relationship and create a lasting bond. When there is no conflict, several chances for understanding are lost. Though, it does feel good to be in a relationship with someone who has similar opinions, so the distinction is hard.
Exhibiting any one of these traits, or all five, does not mean that the relationship in question is toxic or abusive. The points above are only guides to things that are often missed in the public discussion about abusive relationships.