Being able to spot, identify and evaluate red flags in a relationship is one of the hardest and most important parts of any romantic connection.
Recognizing red flags in the beginning of a relationship can be more difficult because of 2 factors of early dating behavior:
1. Both people in the early stage of a relationship are usually putting their best foot forward and;
2. A person’s judgment is likely impaired by their early stage infatuation phase which makes identifying red flags and reacting to them much harder.
The appearance of red flags has even more significance in the first 6 months since most people are on their best behavior early on, red flags in the beginning can mean the issues that have surfaced are serious.
Red flags can be a critical indicator of future issues: incompatibility, character flaws, and potentially bothersome idiosyncrasies and habits. The sooner you recognize the serious, deal breaking red flags, the sooner you can extricate yourself from a relationship that is doomed with less pain and time invested. On the flip side, if red flags are properly analyzed and found to be not truly significant, this process of evaluation can help propel a relationship to new levels of communication and intimacy.
Here are three things you should do when you notice early red flags.
1. Don’t ignore them.
The first “must do” regarding red flags is to address them. Easier said than done, especially early on, but you must examine them when you take notice. Don’t just dismiss it. Take notice and think it through. Believe in the process and know that a red flag is like the tip of an iceberg. If that tip is really there, there is much more to it below the surface.
2. If it recurs, consider communicating about it.
Observe the red flag and see if it persists. If it does, discuss it with your partner. As with all good relationships, communicating is critical and absolute. See how your partner reacts to the issue you’ve brought up.
3. Determine if the red flag is a deal-breaker.
Analyze where each red flag falls on the deal breaking scale. No one is perfect, but some issues might be too much for you. Ask, is it an acceptable quirk or a profound and fundamental issue. Is it a habit or action that can be changed or possibly adjusted? Or is it a deeper character issue?
Red flags relating to such core elements of a relationship usually are irreconcilable. You don’t want to be over-reactive, but if these types of red flags surface it is likely that there are more of them that you have not yet identified. If you do have strong feelings for your partner but also identify troubling red flags, I recommend couples therapy before pulling the plug. Do everything you can to talk things out if your feelings are very strong.
At the end of the day, red flags relating to fundamental compatibility issues are usually best heeded as early in the relationship if possible. Time is our most precious commodity and many relationships go on far too long because of the power of inertia and a reluctance to deal with problems.
There is a great, dynamic and passionate relationship out there for each of you, so don’t settle for anything but that.