Many people nowadays see Valentine’s Day as a clever ploy by the candy, card, and flower industries—a way to fill the gap between Christmas and Mother’s Day. I won’t say I’m such a cynic, but I do tend to take the Hallmark movie version of romantic love with a heavy pinch of salt and skepticism.
And why not? Love can be a beautiful, wonderful, world-changing thing… but it can also cause a lot of pain and suffering. Healthy relationships might elevate a life, but toxic ones can drive you straight into the ground.
Luckily, I’ve got a Valentine’s Day gift just for you: One dozen red flags to watch for in a new relationship. While you’re out there searching for your perfect match, watch out for these potentially dangerous signs that your beloved might not be the one for you after all.
Controlling behavior. Jealousy ain’t cute, y’all. Controlling and/or jealous behavior can be an early warning sign of an abusive relationship.
Absence. Maybe this seems obvious, but it isn’t always. No text, no call, no carrier pigeon? Move on.
Love bombing. This one may sound harmless or even sweet, but it’s not. Love bombing is when a person bombards another with grand romantic gestures—lots of them—early in a relationship. It’s often an early indicator of emotional and physical abuse to come.
Talking sh*t about their exes. “Oh, your ex was ‘crazy’?” *RUN.*
Gaslighting or ignoring your feelings. Nope, nope, nope. No gaslighter has your best interests in mind.
Addiction. Drugs, alcohol, social media—whatever the addiction, it isn’t healthy. Encourage them to find help.
You don’t want the same things. This one can be painful, but nipping it in the bud can prevent a lot of pain.
They disrespect boundaries. Respect is essential in any relationship. If you can’t trust someone to listen when you set a boundary, it may be time to ask them to hit the road instead.
They avoid authentic and serious conversations. Serious conversations can be difficult, but open communication is important. If a romantic partner is consistently avoiding authentic conversations about serious topics that matter to you, it may be a sign of deeper problems in the relationship.
You catch them in a lie. Big or small, you can probably assume there will be others.
Negging. When their “compliments” feel more like insults, it may be a sign that they’re using this form of emotional manipulation. Over time, it can damage your self-esteem and lead to emotional and physical abuse.
They hide you. Putting off meeting the family is one thing, but actively hiding you from everyone in their life is another. Make like a banana and split.
Have you ever recognized these red flags in a relationship? Can you think of any we’ve missed? This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list—drop your additions in the comments. And, while you’re at it, check out Katie Hood’s TED Talk on the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.