Recognizing the Red Flags

By Jamey Sheesley

Red flags are alerts that go off in your gut or brain when someone is not right. It is your body trying to warn you to proceed with caution or get away immediately. Red flags are often easy to blow off or ignore, but there are many reasons why you should not blow off even the tiniest flag. They are especially important to pay attention to if you are still healing from a previous abusive relationship.

There are many different types of red flags and you can check them out in a previous BTS article here. It is definitely important to look through different types of warnings, so you can recognize what they are.

If you are starting a new relationship, it is fun to learn about your new significant other; however, if a warning sign comes, up do not ignore it. Instead of blowing the red flag off, pause and take time to go through what is wrong or what you did not like that your significant other did. Listen to your gut. It is usually the first to tell you something is off. If you have ever been in an abusive relationship, you will recognize this feeling as being anxious or nauseous that something is just not “feeling” right. According to the Huffington Post, “People know how to lie, but your intuition doesn’t. The first one to tell you something is wrong will be your inner voice. Pay close attention to gut feelings that ask you to analyze your partner’s intentions, words, and actions more closely.” It is so important to recognize these signs so you can stop and do something about them.

If a red flag comes up with your new partner, do not hesitate to talk to them about it. It may be something they did not know they did. An example of this would be if they belittled an opinion of yours or insulted something that you like. Do not blow it off. Sit down and talk to them about what they did and that you do not approve of their behavior. If your significant other is a genuine good person, they will understand. They will apologize for their actions and be more careful not to be disrespectful in the future. However, if your significant other laughs it off or continues to disrespect you, consider that another red flag. If this happens, it is best to be honest with yourself. Do you want to be treated like that? Do you want to get involved with another abuser? It is easier to cut the relationship short than go down another traumatic path.

It is important to pay attention to how your new significant other treats those around you. If you are out to eat, pay attention to how they treat the staff, especially if they get their order wrong. How do they handle the situation? Another important factor to pay attention to is how they talk about their ex-partners. If they are telling you their exes are all evil, then that is something else to take note of. “Be careful becoming too attached to the person who talks down to others, is rude without reason, or has negative relationships with family members. People who have problems with themselves often release them upon others, and these problems can’t be resolved until they look within and eliminate the real cause,” said the Huffington Post

The “vibes” your significant other puts off are a huge key to what type of person they are. Are they safe, are they an abuser or do they have abusive tendencies? Body language can tell you a lot about a person. Pay attention to your partner’s posture. If they are rigid and entitled, their posture will show it. Open people are more relaxed and sit back in their seat with their mid area open. This shows they are comfortable with the situation and are open to your presence. An abuser might have a more rigid body posture that is not relaxed.

Nervousness can do this, too, and this is usually when your intuition will come back in to play. If your partner is just nervous, it should not trigger your red flag warning system, but if you are feeling uncomfortable and your gut is telling you something is not right, trust it. Even if you do not know what your body is noticing, you need to believe it and protect yourself. According to Healthy Place, “The abuser adopts a physical posture which implies and exudes an air of superiority, seniority, hidden powers, mysteriousness, amused indifference, etc.”

If you have been in an abusive relationship before, you might start noticing these warning signs earlier because you are still very sensitive after suffering trauma. If alerts start going off in your gut or you head, take the time to process them. If they are issues that you can talk with your partner about, you need to talk to them and find out where they stand in the situation. If you do not feel comfortable talking to them about it, this could be another sign the relationship might be toxic. If your partner does not take you or your feelings seriously or is not approachable you need to take that in consideration. If you are shy and like to avoid conflict, you still need to talk to them about your feelings. If it is easier to do it over the phone or over text, it is still important to do so. Again, a partner that has your best interest at heart will take your concerns seriously and take initiative to fix the problem.

If your partner continues to exhibit behavior you do not approve of it is best to move on or if your intuition keeps telling you something is off, then get away from that relationship. Your own well-being is more important than being in a relationship. A significant other who truly cares about you will not continue to make you uncomfortable. They will do their best to make you comfortable and they will want you to trust them. Red flags are there to protect you, so never blow them off. Pay attention to what they are telling you.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.

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