When should you ignore red flags, and when should you pay attention to them

We could all recite the aftermath’s thoughts within us, as if they were from a collective script: “Why did I ignore that when I felt uncomfortable?”, “Why did I decide to give him another chance?”, “I knew this is how things would turn out, because I noticed…. earlier.”, “I wish I’d heeded the warning pangs..”. And the all too familiar, “I wish I’d listened to my gut”.

Sound familiar?

A wonderful friend of mine who is a few years younger, though more wise and able to see things clearly in my own life, is one I chose to talk to about some “red-flags” I was noticing. I described them to her in detail, the reasons behind them, etc.

I know my natural inclination to ‘give things more time’ and ‘give him a chance to change’ and so on. This mind-set has NEVER EVER served me well. In fact, it’s at the root (or center) of every abusive relationship I have ever had. I didn’t trust my gut reactions to a person’s behavior or treatment of me, directly. In other relationships I’ve had, I chose to speak up after I was sure of what I was feeling or noticing, then gave that person time to fix it, which never worked in my best interests…EVER! This is exactly what my friend advised that I should do. I was surprised. She has been severely abused throughout her life. A sociopath as a dad, several abusive relationships, and her chosen response has been to NEVER allow someone to victimize her again. She’ll call a spade a spade, and since she’s 6ft tall, she can scare the gonads off of any man. It works for her. But, what she has suggested of me is to resort to that same “give it more time” bull-shit that has only insured the furthering of mistreatment and even abuse. Instead of recognizing what I’m seeing, she is only seeing “mutual friend” and “That doesn’t sound like him”.

It’s difficult to acknowledge shortcomings in someone you respect and admire. I understand that. However, this one floored me. She was telling me to fall back into the old familiar pattern of “ignore” and “devaluation” of much needed red-flags, when they become apparent. She knows what that pattern leads to, as much if not more than I. At the very least it will perpetuate a very bad ‘match’ only prolonging something that is inherently BAD all the way around. In the end I would wind up losing a friend. If it was regarding anyone else, her response would be, “those red-flags are there for a reason! Trust your gut, it’ll never lead you wrong”. I know this, because she’s said it to me in the past. She and I have been friends for well over 13 years. Now she thinks I need to ignore my gut? I think NOT! This time, though I do value her input and advise more often than not, I choose to ignore her ‘wisdom’. I’m the only one who will protect me in the end. She’ll get over it.

I do believe, however, that humans aren’t always correct in our perceptions. In this case, when a red-flag pops up in an established good relationship for instance, it would be in the best interest of that relationship to give things more time, I believe. If you are that close with someone, you will be able to talk about the hard things with them. It might be that they aren’t aware of the changes that have cropped up and the very thought of hurting you will shock them into stopping whatever behavior has become the problem. This is reserved for already ESTABLISHED relationships, friendships, etc. However, if that person has become physically abusive…GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE! Once a person has crossed the line of hitting a woman, it will be difficult if not impossible for them to refrain in the future. Your well being is at stake in this case. As well as could be your LIFE! No matter how much time etc. that you have invested, get out!

If, for instance, you are on a first (or second or 3rd or … ) date and you see some behaviors that seem extra callous emanating from your date, or actions that would translate to them being entirely self-centered and selfish, you would be stupid to ignore it. Most men and women put their very best foot forward when pursuing a relationship..especially in the early days. Only after things get comfortable and you have been dating for a while, do the real things and behaviors show. If you have only been seeing eachother for a few weeks? Hello, dahlin…this IS his BEST!

Imagine time passing with the same individual. Since the selfish behaviors, (ie: making fun of you in public, for a laugh; expecting you to drive everywhere to meet him for what-have-you, or anything else you can think of) are already his BEST foot forward, where do you see things going down the road? If he’s already inconsiderate toward you, multiply that by 10 and you’ll get a good idea what to expect later on. If he makes fun of you to someone neither of you know… this is also his best foot forward. What will happen 1 or 2 years down the road? If you choose to stick it out with this person because you think you are ‘wrong’, you’ll get a rude awakening some day. You’ll repeat the same mental monologue we are all too familiar with;

“Why didn’t I listen…?”


5 thoughts on “When should you ignore red flags, and when should you pay attention to them

  1. Pingback: Online Dating101, Don’t Ignore the Red Flags « Online Dating 101

  2. Pingback: Online Dating101, Don’t Ignore the Red Flags | How to Date Online

  3. zombiesdujour

    Absolutely you need to trust your OWN gut! If something they did or said feels “icky ” it is, and it is NOT normal. Get out while the getting is good. GREAT post!

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