Relationships

Destructive Patterns to Avoid: Ignoring Relationship Red Flags

We’ve made it to part 4 of the “Destructive Relationships Patterns to Avoid” series and the Clo Bare’s History of all relationships extravaganza! If you haven’t read the rest of the series, I encourage you to head back to “Part One: Dating Anxiety” and work you way through the series. So far we’ve covered my dating anxiety genesis story, savior complex, and dating the wrong men while pushing away the right ones. In this post we talk about ignoring relationship red flags, dive deeper into the savior complex and how it impacted me in a very real and unhealthy way.

My last post brought us up to post-college, and in this post I dive into the China years. We cover a little bit of everything in this post, all leading up to a shit storm of the destructive patterns maelstrom that is this experience. 

So. Without further ado: The China Years.

Enter the China Years

China was easily the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. 

When I first arrived, I floated on cloud nine. I’d spent my teenage years dreaming of the moment I’d teach abroad, and the realization of this dream gave me an incredible high, day in and day out.

If you’ve ever felt the elation of finding your life purpose (or what you at least think is your life-purpose) and doing the thing you’ve spent your whole life working towards– you will understand what moving abroad to live was like for me. I was ecstatic with the kind of obsessive, in-love-drunkenness.

Plus, after a long period of feeling lost and uncertain of where I needed to go or what I needed to do during college and post– something about living in China just worked. I felt smart. My skills felt valid. My attitude improved and my ability to do things and do them well seemed to sky rocket. I felt like I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing, as if every mistake I ever made lead me to exactly where I needed to be: China.

China and Relationship Red Flags

All this newfound sense of purpose cradled me in self-assurance and love and euphoria. It was like the honeymoon stage, pulsing with new relationship energy.  I discovered a sense of confidence and hyper-focus I never felt before and have rarely felt after. But with all this happiness, so sudden and fierce, I felt protective of my fragile sense of purpose. I was worried if I didn’t hold on to it with a death grip, I’d somehow slip back into that still-fresh college depression that had tainted my life for so many years.

Because of it, I didn’t plan on dating. I knew I didn’t need it and I felt whole and complete and happy on my own. For the first time in my life I felt like I didn’t need to pursue a romantic partner because I felt so in love with my life. I felt like I loved me!

So, of course I met someone who would change the course of my life completely.

Cue the China tragedy. The pain. And him.

We’ll call him Savan.

Ignoring Relationship Red Flags

In the same way I felt an almost drug-like euphoria for China, meeting Savan tripled the feeling. Our instant connection felt like finding the other half of my brain. He thought the other half of my thoughts and spoke the other half of my sentences. I felt fuller when I was with him. As if China was all I needed to become my authentic self and all that jazz– Savan was the icing on the mother fucking cake.

It was fucking lovely.

We had a weird connection. It felt like we could read each other’s mind half all the time, and we found ourselves often falling into a chorus of “I know. I know you know. Well I know you know, I know! I KNOW.” And then we’d burst into ridiculous giggles at the absurdity of it all while also relishing in how GOOD it felt to be known and understood. Those feels felt stronger than any relationship red flag I could see.

We had an instant kind of love and a connection I imagine people who’ve been married forever have– where you know what they’re thinking simply by a twitch of the eye or flicker of a smile. But with that old as time connection, we had all the fiery lust and excitement of a new relationship.

It was fucking lovely.

We were every cliche. I felt so understood. It was as if finding the person I’d known in another life– a person I’d spent this whole life missing only to feel that missing piece filled the second he stepped into my life. That feeling, if able to be put in drug form, is something I’d take daily.

It feels silly typing it out now. I feel silly knowing what I know now. 

Ignoring the Red Flags Begins

The truth is, even though I loved him, Savan was bad news from the beginning.

And I knew it. Even though I didn’t want to.

I remember the distinct moment I decided to ignore my gut and to follow my feelings with him because the feelings were too irresistible to ignore. It happened on my way to hang out with him “as friends”. Previously I’d told him I didn’t think we were compatible in the world of romance, but as I got off the bus near his apartment, the thought hit me:

I would give anything to feel the way I feel with him. It will likely end poorly–in fact it’s almost guaranteed to end terribly, but I’m willing to try. Why the fuck not, right?

My gut told me it’d hurt like hell.

My gut told me it was a bad idea.

But I pressed ignore, put my blinders on, and skipped my merry way right into it. With the very lucid decision, my path laid out before me and I went all in.

And it was pretty fucking magical for a while.

Until it wasn’t.

Relationship Red Flags: the relationships feels rushed and you make premature commitments that feel urgent.
Clo Bare; clobare.com

Relationship Red Flag: Rushing into Commitment

My blinders activated at full force as I sailed past all the red flags. One after another, I ignored the warning signs of his extreme mood changes, his conviction that he’d someday convert me to Islam whether I liked it or not, his constant insults about my weight, and his increasing need to control everything about me.

I didn’t even notice. I could spin the reasoning for why he said what he said every single time until I convinced myself that this, this is true love. 

After two months, he proposed while we got ready for work. Just like that, we bought a ring later in the day, and the whole experience felt like a perfect, unceremonious recognition of the commitment we already felt. 

Relationship Red Flag: “No One Will Understand”

We didn’t tell anyone close to us because no one would understand.

Now I read those words– “No one would understand”– and realize what a red flag it is in of itself. If ever the words “No one would understand” cross my mind again in reference to the hidden bad behaviors of my relationships, I now know I’d recognize the warning sign for what it is.

We got engaged after only a few months of dating. People would think we were crazy, so I kept it to myself. But I was ecstatic. For the first time in my life I actually wanted to marry someone, and I had zero anxiety over it. I wanted to be his wife, his person, and I wanted him to be mine.

In a weird way, it felt like I was already his wife in the way we felt so connected. I could hardly imagine a world where we’d ever not been together. Marriage just felt like written confirmation of what we already knew and felt– we were bonded. We were meant to be a unit. 

The Quick Turn of Events

But the excitement of the engagement was fleeting, because in the days leading up to the engagement, Savan’s behavior started to become more and more erratic. The relationship red flags and mental health red flags raised higher and higher, but I couldn’t see what was in front of my face.

One day he came home and told me he talked to angels on the way to a TV shoot.

Another day he told me the CIA was following him.

The next day he told me they were listening in on our conversations.

One day he told me he could make people live or die by just thinking about it.

One night he was inconsolable because he was convinced that he’d killed his uncle simply by thinking about it.

Another night he told me he was the son of a prophet.

Every-time he told me something new, I’d listen, and try to pull meaning from his words.

What you mean is this. When you say that, you mean this. You’re not actually a prophet but I see what you mean, right?

He’d laugh and tell me I always knew what to say. So I thought we were good. I thought we were staying afloat.

But not long after the engagement, he lost complete touch with reality. He stopped sleeping. And eating. And drinking. He smoked hash like cigarettes and started to believe he was God, whether sober or not. The delusions lasted longer and longer until his “normal” appeared less than his delusions of grandeur.

Part of his God-delusion made him believe I was his angel. It was cute at first, the ridiculousness and absurdity of it all. I thought he was using extreme metaphor– I never thought he truly believed he was a literal god… until things escalated.

The Relationship Red Flags I Blinded Myself From

One night as we fell asleep, he told me to read the Quran so I would better understand him. He figured if he was going to marry me, I needed to understand his views and background as a Muslim. He kept changing his mind and telling me to read it, and then telling me not to read it and by the time we fell asleep I had it in my mind that I’d read it.

The next day when he came home to find me reading the Quran, he went ballistic. A light switched off inside him and throwing any love he had for me out the window.

“You’re a demon now,” he said, shaking his head at me and throwing his arms up in the air. “You fucking killed my angel.” He pointed at my chest and screamed at me for betraying his trust as I tried to defend myself.

For the first time, I worried he’d hurt me, or worse, end our relationship. I begged for forgiveness. Even though I didn’t know what I did wrong, I apologized profusely if it meant getting back to how things were. I promised I hadn’t killed his angel. I promised she was right here in front of him.

Eventually he calmed down enough to tell me there’d be consequences if I ever disobeyed him again. As his wife, all things had to pass through him first.

And I apologized. I groveled. I did whatever I could to make him forgive me. Even though none of it made sense.

Relationship Red Flag: How being with him changed me

I was equally relieved that our relationship hadn’t ended and terrified of the person I’d fallen for. 

Now, I see all these relationship red flags. The control he had over me. The fear I felt towards him. Even the fear of the relationship ending– how it made me grovel and beg for forgiveness for something I shouldn’t have had to apologize for. How the relationship changed me into someone who would do that.

From that moment, the moment of me on my knees begging him to not end our relationship over me reading the Quran, things got much worse.

Relationship Red Flag: I’m the only one who can help him.

At first, I was able to talk him down from his delusions and bring him back to reality. It felt like a superpower– he’d start talking as if he were god, saying he was the next prophet and believing he could control people with his mind– and I’d talk him in circles until he came back to reality.

I remember thinking how I was the only one who could help him. Without me, who would’ve talked him down? I understood how his brain worked so everything would always be okay as long as we were together, right?

It felt special. It made me feel special. Even though it was so, so, so fucked up. 

The “I’m special” Fallacy

Did I mention this pattern? 

It falls under the “choosing the wrong men” and is an extension of the savior complex. I have, over and over again, chosen men who make me feel special because they’re dicks to everyone else, but have soft spots for me.

Something in me is compelled to understand the misunderstood and that is absolutely one of the things that drew me to Savan. I wanted to be the special one who understood him, so I did.

Maybe that’s the achiever in me too. Wanting to accomplish something like understanding the misunderstood and drawing love out of people who hang their hat on being a scorned, cynical misfit. It’s interesting how this Type 3 personality keeps coming up (to read more about the Enneagram and Type 3 check out this post). 

Anyway, the less he slept, the longer his delusions lasted. Soon everything became a trigger and everything I said had a 60% chance of triggering him or a 40% chance of helping him come back down to reality. But those percentages continued to get more unbalanced. I exhausted myself trying to keep up and prevent him from exploding on the wrong person or me. Watching him became a full time hobby as I tried to get him to eat, sleep, and drink. 

We Failed in the Face of Reality

One day he disappeared, unreachable for 12 hours until the police found him crying, shirtless with bloody knuckles wrapped in cloth. He lost himself in the middle of a Wuhan mall, a mall he’d been to thousands of times. He’d given away his Vespa, his wallet, his laptop, his bag, his phone, his shirt and told me he’d spent the day fighting demons to get back to his angel. 

The cops told me they thought he was drunk, but I knew he didn’t drink. When I saw him, he asked me if he was dead. 

In the two hour long cab ride back to his apartment, he laid his head on my shoulder. 

I failed.

The thought played over and over in my mind.

I failed.

Breathe.

I failed.

Breathe.

I failed.

Breathe.

We failed.

Sob.

I failed at protecting him. I failed at keeping him out of the hospital, keeping him safe keeping him sane, preventing him from losing it. I’d failed. 

Relationship Red Flag: You only have each other.

That night the police sent him home with me. I tried to not show how terrified I felt. I feared he’d turn into the angry, god-version, instead of the crying version who wanted his angel back. So I hid the knives and anything I could find that he might use to hurt himself or me. As we laid in bed, he asked me to save him. To take him out of China and get him away from Wuhan. 

“You’re all I have. You have to get me out of here,” he whispered as I struggled to keep my eyes open.

I remember hearing those words as if they were bricks cementing the reality that I was in way over my head. This was bigger than me. My heart wanted to save him. Save us. But what in the hell was I going to do? I was one person?

There’s no way I was strong enough. He needed me to be super human. He’d hurt himself on my watch. I couldn’t even keep him from getting lost for twelve hours– how would I stay with him all hours of the day just to make sure something bad didn’t happen? These thoughts broke me, and I can feel the weight of the words even now, five years later.

We just need some sleep.

I tried to stay awake until he fell asleep but the exhaustion of the day hit me and I passed out.

When I woke up, he was gone again and the panic snapped me back into action. I paced the apartment, looking for clues to where he had gone. His keys hung on the hook near the door. His phone and wallet sat on the shelf by our bedroom. But he was gone. As I started to text our local friend Andrea, a knock sounded on the door. 

There he was. He came into the apartment, shoeless, wearing a wool sweater and my black dress despite it being well over 100 and humid as hell. 

Invisible

“I was invisible,” he said, tears in his eyes. “I was invisible, Chloe,” he started to laugh, a low hiccup of disbelief. “Can you believe it? I was just wandering around and completely invisible.”

I felt my body sink into itself.

“Sweetheart…” I hung my head and started to cry. “You can’t disappear like that. You can’t do this.” 

Silence sat between us for a few moments. Afraid to move, we both stood in the doorway, completely at a loss on what to do next. I studied his face, noticing for the first time how sunken his eyes had become and how thin and frail he looked standing there in my dress. His eyebrows creased up in confusion as he saw the surrender in my face.

“I need to go to the hospital, don’t I?” He asked at last. And the weight of that moment almost brought me to my knees.

I nodded.

“If I go, I won’t be out for a long time, will I?”

“Probably… but I don’t know.” I shrugged.

“I can just go and get some sleep. That’s all I need, right? I’ll just get some sleep and it’ll be fine. Everything will be fine. It’ll be like couple’s counseling. We’ll go together. We’ll get some sleep.”

The Long Ride to the Hospital

The innocence in his conclusion shattered me as I tried to hold all my pieces together.

“Yes.” I said. “We just need some sleep.”

Our friend picked us up and he ended up getting triggered back into his God delusion on the car ride over. After threatening to kill me in the lobby of the hospital, he started screaming and our friend Andrea recommended I go wait in the car because I was clearly triggering him.

Not long after I walked away, she called me to warn me he had taken her eyeglasses and started running towards the school he worked at. According to him, the eyeglasses made him human again.

Unsure of what his intentions were, Andrea and I both started running toward the school to try and get there before he did. 

I arrived a few moments before he did. When he saw me in the lobby of his school, he started screaming at me to go home. 

I stood frozen, unsure of what to do and eventually decided to stay in the lobby to not freak him out further as I saw Andrea run up to the school. 

The Police and a Mental Health Hospital

We tried calling the police, but the police wouldn’t escort him to the hospital until they knew he posed a risk to other people. It took almost 13 hours before six police ended up restraining him after he started screaming and threatening people in the streets. They restrained him, brought him to the mental health hospital, and sedated him.

Due to overbooking, they put him on a bed in the hallway and chained his wrist to the bed frame. 

Savan went from the normal asshole I knew and loved to a delusional, non-functioning patient handcuffed to a bed in the hallway of a mental health hospital in less than thirty days. I remember how conflicted I felt as I sat down next to him on his bed, afraid that he’d still be in his god delusion that hated me but hoping he’d be in his normal Savan personality that loved me. 

A Dichotomy Between Love and Knowing

That conflict is something I feel now as I write this.

I now know that even before he started having delusions he was not a good man. But I didn’t know that then. I thought he was the love of my life and couldn’t see the red flags leading up to the moment there, sitting on the cot in a hallway of a mental health hospital. What I saw: the man I loved and would do anything for.

But as 28 year old version of myself, I know it’s more complex. It was an unhealthy relationship before, in ways that had nothing to do with his mental health. But I couldn’t see it. I loved him deeply, and didn’t know anything was wrong until everything was wrong.

There were warning signs all along the way that he was a controlling, manipulative person. While those characteristics had nothing to do with his mental health, but were exacerbated by his delusions and mental state.

The way he’d constantly put me down for my body.

How he’d tell me that I fucked like a sad, performative American porn star.

The way he wanted to control how I acted, looked, and existed in the world.

How he had a threesome at a party I was at, immediately following our first night together.

The way he talked about rape like it was a petty crime that a woman might as well enjoy.

Relationship Red Flag: You lose the ability to see the relationship for what it is.

He is not a good man. It is strange to write about him now from the perspective of the 23-year old version of myself that was in love with him. This dichotomy so clearly illuminates the disconnect of being in an abusive relationship and not knowing it’s an abusive one when you’re in it. I thought the control he had over me was romantic. I thought he wanted what was best for me.

But all he ever wanted was what was best for him. And he wanted to use me to get that. 

When the delusions started, I never felt like I was in danger until I was scared for other people’s wellbeing. Even when he screamed at me, and threatened me and completely changed from one person to the next in a matter of seconds, I always thought I was in control. 

The Delusions on My Part

Realizing how wrong I was and how close I was to putting myself in harms way traumatized me almost as much the relationship itself. I realized I was not immune to abusive relationships. I realized I was just as likely as the next woman to end up in a controlling situation that is dangerous without even realizing it.

And that scared the shit out of me.

Did something catastrophic have to happen for me to wake up? While I’d like to think I would have eventually figured out that my relationship was not as magical as it seemed,  I know something had to happen. Because it did. And it took me years to realize I had made the right choice by not following him.

The Hospital

Once Savan entered the mental health hospital, Andrea, his boss and friend, and I, his new fiancé who’d only known him a few months, were in charge of him. While processing my own decisions, my feelings and my disbelief– the brunt of responsibilities fell on Andrea and I.

Those months were nothing short of hell. Every-time Savan seemed to be making progress, something would trigger him and send him back into his god delusion and every-time it happened, I lost him all over. The push and pull tore the tiny bits of healing open over and over again, sinking me deeper into the chaos and surrender.

The confusion of those days is hard to explain.

I tried to balance the feeling of wanting him to get better for him with the feeling of wanting him to get better for me. While I wanted what was best for him, I desperately wanted that something to be me. My thoughts filled with concern for him, while instincts of self-preservation and absolute mourning fought for my attention. I felt an immense amount of guilt, as if I was the reason he ended up in the hospital.

To this day I have a hard time shaking this feeling that I was somehow responsible for his hospitalization and break from reality.

Emotionally, I was a wreck. One minute I’d be completely wrapped up in worry for him, the next I’d be angry at the cruel unfairness of the world, the next I’d want to yell at him for not getting more sleep and the next I’d want to crumble into a pile of defeat and beg for another chance at what we had. And then I’d be furious with myself for worrying about what I wanted, and the next I’d hate myself for being weak and not strong enough to be good for him.

Everything I ever wanted with him ripped suddenly and completely away. All our dreams, all our hopes– completely shattered. On all fronts. And I was devastated but hopeful that something could save us.

I survived by distracting myself with tasks during the days. The days were spent hiking an hour by train to the hospital, talking with doctors through a translator, spending time with Savan, going to his apartment to try to prepare it for an eventual move, buying him groceries, trying to reach his sister who spoke no English in his home country, teaching children ages 2-22 in my day job, dealing with his Embassy, and searching through his things to find his health records so the doctor’s could figure out what the fuck was going on in a country where I did not speak the language.

Helpless

Nights were spent alone in my apartment, unable to sleep but unable to do much else than cry. Talking to friends and family felt useless. I was wearing them out with my sadness and confusion. I wore myself out simply by existing. And no one would understand.

China suddenly became the enemy.

I couldn’t understand what was happening around me. I’d cry on the train and people would stare. Simply walking down the street near his hospital felt impossible because as a foreigner in China, privacy was nonexistent. Every stare felt like an attack, and my anger built as the days wore on. Even in the hospital itself, patients would surround Savan and I, trying to get a peak into his room to see the two foreigners in the mental health hospital. I remember one girl asked us for a photo while in the first mental health hospital, and being in the absolute haze my head was in, we obliged.

Every sense of mine clouded with the fog of not knowing the language that buzzed around me as the doctor’s tried to communicate with me. Savan, fluent in Mandarin, would tell me something the doctor’s said only to then find out what he explained to me (that there was nothing wrong with him and that I was the one who had manipulated the situation) was only Savan lying to get his way out. One moment I thought I knew and understood and the next, I’d be thrown for another loop when the true translation of his words hit me.

What’s Worse

What’s worse is while all this was going on, I was still Savan’s trigger. He could have a good mental day, feeling near normal, and I’d come into the room and he’d flip back into his “God” personality where he believed he could control people.

I’d try to talk him down and it’d only get worse so I’d try to stay away in hopes he’d improve without me. Then he’d steal someone’s phone, and text me from random numbers to tell me how much he needed to see me. How he’d kill himself if I gave up on him, and I’d cave the moment I’d get a text and head back to the hospital only to repeat the cycle over again. 

Relationship Red Flag: Taking all the blame

While he was in the hospital I vacillated between taking blame for everything because I believed I could control the situation to believing I was the one who had lost touch with reality.

I should have brought him to the hospital before the police had to. I should have known that it was more than a lack of sleep. This was my fault for not seeing it sooner and trying to talk sense into his delusions instead of accepting them for what they were.

This pattern of feeling like I am responsible and it is my fault– it stuck with me longer than this relationship. It’s something I have trouble distinguishing the difference between to this day. What I’m responsible for and what I’m not is something I am constantly trying to gauge, and accept. 

Some days I’d go to the hospital to bring him food, and books, and news, and then other days I’d stay home unable to leave my apartment because I’d convinced myself that I was the one who should be in the hospital.

Savan also believed I was the one who should’ve been in the hospital and as the days went on, it became hard not to believe him.

The Plane

The insanity went on for months. After taking the first month off from work, I had to return to teach kids during the day and then head to see him at night. I started looking at LanguageCorps programs in his home country and tried to figure out how to get there to take care of him once he stabilized. I thought I could. The caregiver with a savior complex in me threatened to take over as the logical sane person inside me knew that would never be an option. 

His visa expired while in the hospital, so I had to work with his embassy to fly his sister into China so she could escort him back to his home country. He was considered a flight risk without an escort and because I was the trigger that sometimes made him burst into explosive anger and delusions of grandeur, I was not the right person to escort him back.

Finally, after more than two months, the day for him to leave arrived. We took an ambulance to the airport, where his sister took him back to his home country. The plane sat delayed on the tarmac for two hours. 

The Goodbye

The last words I said to him in person were “See you on the other side.” I don’t know what I meant by that. At the time, I thought maybe I’d move to his home country to take care of him once he stabilized.

I thought maybe I’d move somewhere else to escape or maybe I’d move to another city nearby so we could be close but have some distance. But I knew ultimately I was a trigger and this experience had caused irreparable damage to our relationship. Even if I did love him, the most loving thing I could do was let him heal. 

Apparently his therapist had the same idea, and instructed him to cut off all contact from me.

When he told me within a day of arriving in his home country, I was both crushed and relieved. 

I had spent two months in survival mode, and when he left I felt like the mask and persona I put on to take care of him was suddenly lifted revealing my actual, exhausted self.  For months I’d been trying to take care of him, navigating a minefield of delusions and realities and grey areas, while also trying to protect my own sanity while also trying to teach 600 students a week. I needed a fucking break. 

When the Mourning Truly Began

But at the same time. I’d lost him. The person who I wanted to experience the world with. Someone who made everything feel new again. My Savan who felt like my other half. The mourning of his loss was only beginning. I’d lost the person who I had loved more than I’d ever loved anyone, more than I ever knew I could. The person who made me feel kind of magical, made me feel seen, made me feel totally fucking calm and complete. I lost who I thought my person was in such a sudden abrupt way as he switched from my fiance to God to victim to nightmare to vulnerable patient.

And it all felt like my fault. 

After he left, I fell into an anxiety ridden stupor for a while. China which had once felt like a complete dream, turned into an anxiety drenched nightmare. I’d hole up in my apartment, only leaving to go to work. I avoided friends and said “no” to most social interactions. Nothing felt safe. No interaction felt authentic or real and I used extreme plans and ideas to distract myself from how lost I felt. 

One day I decided I’d stay in China and start writing books.

Another day I’d study psychology textbooks I downloaded from the internet to prepare myself to someday go back to school.

Other days I’d wallow and hide, unable to make a decision about what to do or where to go so I’d pace in the apartment only to end up doing nothing at all.

Avoiding instead of Processing

I spent years avoiding talking to a therapist about it all. It felt too incredulous for me to believe– if I could barely process it or believe it, how would I explain it to anyone else? So by not processing the trauma, I let it sit, festering on my insides and producing a type of anxiety and extreme self-doubt I’ve never had before or since. 

The entire experience made me question every thought I had, every move I made, and every interaction’s deeper, hidden meaning. I became paranoid that people didn’t like me or only put up with me. I started thinking underneath everyone’s exterior there existed a manipulative psychopath ready to emerge and fuck with me. The magic of China dissipated the moment Savan ended up in the hospital, and after a long year and a half of hand wringing and indecision, I moved from China to Chicago in 2015. 

But that journey to recovery is for Part 5 of this series.

Relationship Red Flags: Dealing with the Blinders Now

I am happy to say this experience is far behind me now. I dealt with it through some pretty heavy EMDR sessions with an incredible therapist.

But I still have tendencies to ignore red flags, put up blinders and seek after that “need to feel special” high. 

As always, I’m working on it. 

Instead of ignoring the red flags and putting on my blinders, I’m learning to address issues as they come up. I think part of why I put on the blinders is because part of me wants something to work out so badly I’m willing to ignore things in the hope that something does work out.

That doesn’t serve me. 

Now, I remind myself that I don’t just want someone. I want a connection. I want something real.

But when I run into issues with someone who I like and maybe even love? I HAVE to address is head on even if it’s scary as fuck and even if it means I might lose them. Because if I don’t– those issues will never get resolved. If I don’t address and try to solve things as a couple, I’ll either have to live with it forever or the relationship will eventually end anyway because I’ll let the resentment and issue build.

You know what’s ultimately easier even though it’s hard at first?

Calling out the bullshit.

Saying: If you continue to make comments about my weight I am done.

Declaring: If you do not stop trying to change my religious affiliation, I’m out.

Demanding: If you do not show me respect in the same way I give it to you, I’m gone.

Reminding: If you can’t see beyond your own needs to also think about mine, I can’t do this.

I’m working on it.

How to Recognize Relationship Red Flags

There were a lot of relationship red flags in this post, and so I thought it might be helpful to put it all in a list. I get the question “How do you spot the relationship red flags?” and “How do you know if something is a relationship red flag?” quite a bit. And the truth is, sometimes you won’t know. Sometimes you’ll see it but you’ll be too infatuated to understand, know and act on it.

But you can prepare for it. You can train yourself to see them. And you can get into the habit of acting on them one by one.

Relationship Red Flags t Avoid

Here’s a few relationship red flags to keep your eye on:

  1. Your partner always, always, always comes first.
  2. You don’t feel as if you can say what you truly want to say for fear of how they’ll react.
  3. Your partner makes you feel crazy.
  4. When you talk, you never feel listened to.
  5. You’ve found yourself saying “no one will understand.”
  6. You neglect your own needs in order to take care of theirs.
  7. You start to question if who you are and what you want is right, okay, enough.
  8. The relationship seems rushed and frenzied.
  9. You only spend time with each other and stop hanging out with people who you love and love you.
  10. What they say is never what they do.
  11. Your partner tries to control you– whether it’s telling you how to dress, what to eat, how to act, etc.
  12. You find yourself saying “if I was a different person, this relationship would work.”
  13. They put you on a pedestal.
  14. Your physical boundaries are not respected.
  15. They try to drive a wedge between you, your friends or your family.
  16. They’re cruel to other people, but you feel special because sometimes they’re loving towards you.
  17. They make fun of you during sex.

What are some of your relationship red flags?

The list above is not. a full list. What are some of your experiences with hidden relationship red flags or signs you missed? Share in the comments below.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Julia palfrey
    November 21, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Great information, it was broken down nicely.

    • Reply
      Chloe Daniels | Clo Bare
      November 22, 2019 at 10:22 am

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    Kimberlie
    November 24, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    I’m so sorry that you went through this. Unfortunately, ignoring gut feelings doesn’t make them go away and in matters of the heart we tend to intentionally blind ourselves to the things we don’t want to see or accept.

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