So, you got into a relationship. Yay!
Only there’s one thing you can’t quite get out of your head. Something’s…off. The relationship doesn’t feel as it should, and the dynamic between you and your partner leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
If only you could put a finger on what it is…
Today, we’ll unpack the 8 relationship red flags only highly perceptive people notice.
You know, the small things that might come across as something perfectly normal – until you start paying attention and realize that not everything is as it seems…
1) Love bombing disguised as affection
“I love you so much.”
“Here’s a really expensive gift I bought because you mean so much to me.”
“I’ve left you twenty messages on WhatsApp, oops!”
“I want to see you today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. How about a whole week?”
These phrases aren’t strange to hear when you guys have been together for a while and are madly in love.
But if you just met five days ago…ouch. You might be dealing with a love bomber.
Love bombing is a term used for over-the-top love gestures that tend to appear in relationships early on. It’s also a manipulation technique. Your new partner is showering you with love because they want to secure your affection, putting excessive pressure on you.
Love bombing can be hard to clock, especially if you really fancy the person back. But if you’re highly perceptive, chances are… you can see it coming from a mile away.
And it doesn’t sit right with you.
2) There is a lot of trauma dumping going on
A guy once invited me to his party after we’d chatted online for a few days. We were obviously interested in each other, so I was curious to see what the evening would bring.
About two hours after I got there, he started telling me about an extremely traumatic thing that happened to him as a child.
(Side note: he was not drunk.)
I sat there in disbelief. While I felt very sorry for him, I was baffled as to why he chose me as his confidante – we’ve only known each other for a short while, after all.
But trauma dumping can be much subtler than that. It occurs each time your partner confides in you excessively, sharing all the graphic details of their trauma without asking for consent.
At first glance, it seems like a great thing – it means they trust you, right? It’s good to open up!
Unfortunately, trauma dumping can be yet another – often unconscious – strategy to secure your love and force a deep bond upon you. Now that they’ve told you their darkest secrets, it becomes much harder to leave the relationship.
Trust is amazing. But it comes as a result of an authentic connection, not the other way around. Trust cannot be forced.
3) Your encounters are never non-sexual
If you’re in the honeymoon stage and can’t take your hands off each other, it can be challenging to recognize whether there’s more to the relationship than just chemistry.
But the friendship part of your relationship is just as important as the sexual one – if not more.
Highly perceptive people notice when there’s something missing, something deeper than just jumping into bed and then Netflix & chilling for the rest of the day.
If there was no touching involved, would you still have fun? Would your conversations be stimulating enough to keep you interested?
If your answer is no…it might be a red flag that this relationship isn’t it.
4) Your partner doesn’t have a growth mindset
Complain, complain, complain.
Negativity isn’t hard to miss. But when you’ve only been dating for a while, you might excuse it by thinking they’re “just going through a rough time”. Surely, it’ll blow over. Surely, this isn’t what they’re always like.
If you’re very perceptive, you won’t let such thoughts mislead you. You’ll see your partner for what they are – someone who likes to complain instead of taking action.
Someone who doesn’t have a growth mindset, which is the belief that your skills and knowledge can improve if you just put in enough work.
Someone who will eventually drag you down a rabbit hole of pessimism.
The emergency lights are glowing red, signaling for you to leave the vessel.
5) You seem to be their only friend
Have I already said it’s difficult to recognize red flags when you’re falling in love?
Well, it bears saying again – those glasses aren’t only rose-tinted. They are red-resistant. Kind of like diving to the bottom of the ocean.
The first few months are a happy bubble, undisturbed by the outside world. But the more you get to know your partner, the more you start to notice that… they don’t really have any friends.
Don’t get me wrong, solitary people can be absolutely amazing. But most of us have at least one non-romantical relationship to rely on.
If your partner has no friends, chances are, they will cling to you with all their might. This will easily tip the dynamic in an unhealthy direction, putting a lot of pressure on you and distributing power unequally.
6) Their friends have values drastically different from yours
Maybe your partner does have friends. That’s great news!
But if you’re very perceptive, you don’t stop there. No, you look at how their friends act and what they say. You know that one’s friends can reveal a great deal about a person.
He might act all lovey-dovey with you, but if his friends talk horribly about women, it’s likely he either joins in or doesn’t call them out when you’re not around.
Of course, you should always give your partner the benefit of the doubt and ask them what they truly think about their friends and why they still hang out with them.
But if your partner sees nothing wrong with his friend group’s behavior although you do, you might not be the right fit for each other.
7) You feel the pressure of invisible expectations
We’ve spoken lots about pressure in this article, and for a good reason.
Unhealthy relationships aren’t only about the obvious – the cheating, the excessive jealousy, the verbal attacks – but also the atmosphere under the surface.
Your partner might be perfectly nice. They might go out of their way to make you smile, support your goals, and give you plenty of affection.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t also hold you to expectations you never signed up for.
They may expect a little too much commitment a little too soon.
They may ask too many questions about where you are and who you’re with and why and when you’ll be home.
Or they may say off-handed comments about how important wealth is to them, letting you know your career path isn’t suitable to their desired lifestyle.
It’s the small things that matter in the long run, and if the relationship is making you feel like you can’t take a deep breath, something seriously wrong is going on under all the smiles and pleasant words.
8) Everything seems to be a transaction
I once dated a guy who said, “You never do stuff for me. I bought you flowers, took you out, and I constantly give you compliments. All you’ve done is buy me a muffin.”
We’d been seeing each other for a grand total of three weeks at that point.
I thought it was a rather nice muffin. But muffins aside, it quickly became clear to me his love wasn’t genuine. It was transactional. I give you this, you give me that. I do this, you do that.
A bit like doing business with each other, except we’re trading flowers and muffins and deciding which is worth more.
A partner who truly loves you won’t remind you of all the things they’ve done for you and won’t expect you to return the favor. Their love comes from the goodness of their heart.
They love you, and so they give. Sometimes, love is as simple as that.