Healthy relationships involve honesty, trust, respect and open communication between partners and they take effort and compromise from both people. There is no imbalance of power. Partners respect each other’s independence, can make their own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation, and share decisions.
“Is it normal to feel unsure about your relationship?” Is a question I am often asked as a Specialist Wellness and Trauma Counsellor.
If you’re questioning your bond with your partner, you’re not alone. It’s normal to have doubts about your relationship at times. After all, relationships are hard and no one is perfect. Some degree of uncertainty can be good.
We’re always told to steer clear of people who exhibit red flags in relationships, but exactly what common signs should we be looking out for?
Whether you’re dating a new male or female, a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend, or even in a marriage, you may not be aware of the warning signs. It can help to know which red flags to look out for so that you can proceed with caution or cut things off if necessary.
Red flags of an Abusive Relationship
Red flags in a relationship include excessive jealousy and frequent lying. You should also be wary of a partner who frequently criticizes you or puts you down. Another major red flag is an unwillingness to compromise — relationships shouldn’t be one-sided.
If the person you are dating or married to shows some of these traits, it is important that you proceed with caution:
• Moves too fast in a new relationship
• Isolates you from family and friends
• Doesn’t respect boundaries
• Jealousy – wants you all to himself
• Blaming of others – sees himself as a victim
• Entitlement – deserving of special treatment
• Controlling – often disguised as “concern for your safety”
• Deception and lying
• Tries to restrict your exercise of very ordinary adult rights or freedoms
• Believes he is or acts superior to others
• Uses force during arguments
• Accuses you of being unfaithful
• Has a history of abuse (which they deny)
• Convinces you that you are to blame for relationship problems
• Convinces you that your memory is faulty
Research shows that people who have been in abusive relationships in the past (even as children) are more likely to find themselves in one again. These people should exercise special care when entering new relationships.
What to do:
Speak to a Wellness Counsellor/ Trauma Therapist
Counseling can be helpful to better understand your experiences and the feelings that you have. It is also an opportunity to tell someone your story and have your feelings validated. You may fear being judged, but counseling is an opportunity to find a safe place that is judgement free. Counselling is not only about talking about what has happened, but a place to learn about boundary setting, healthy relationship dynamics, and self-love.
Trauma and Healing
Healing from emotional or psychological trauma is just as important—and doable—as healing from physical trauma. It can be a confusing journey though, so here are some important steps you can take to facilitate the healing process:
Take it one day at a time. Recovery of any kind is a big job and can feel overwhelming if you are focused only on the enormity of the task. Zero in on small things you can do each day—walking, expressing yourself through art or journaling, or reading an inspiring book—to help you find happiness. If a day goes badly—and some days will—recognize that you have a fresh start tomorrow.
Make and maintain connections with people. Good relationships help us combat the tendencies towards isolation that can come with trauma and are a great source of strength. Let people you trust in on your feelings so they can better understand what you’re going through and what you need. Take time to play, work, laugh, and find common interests with others.
You can also reach out to myself personally on-line via www.myselfmastery.co.za
TAKE ACTION! – You can choose.
“The Lives of Many rest on the Courage of a Few”
Dr. Sandra Da Mata
ASCHP Registered Specialist and Wellness Counselor