Caroline Cranshaw: The RED FLAGS you need to look out for in a new relationship

Red flags can show up at any time in a relationship. Sometimes you can spot them before you meet the person or on the first date, while others don’t start to show up until six months in. Sometimes people are being whipped in the face with red flags and still refuse to see them. When it comes to falling in love, you need to use your head, as much as your heart.

Relationships are complicated, and no one is perfect - so you may need to revise your deal breakers. However, some behaviours are such bright red flags flailing ferociously in the wind that you must acknowledge them. Here are some bright neon warning signs to watch out for.

1. You are continuously catching them lying to you

A major red flag is lying. The occasional little white lie is not a big deal, but it’s incredible to me how many people start a relationship based on lies. I can’t count how many dates I went on where the guy lied about his age, height, weight and current circumstances. It got so bad with regard to lying about their age, that I would ask for their driver’s licence to call them out on it. I would then proceed to lecture them about how they need to accept themselves how they are, and tell them that they have blown any chance with me because I don’t trust anything they say.

If they aren’t honest with you from the beginning and continue to lie to you, you will develop trust issues in your relationship. If the person is perfect in every other way, you can get past it, but not without the help of an excellent therapist. If they start out lying to you, my advice is to run…

2. They drink too much or have other addictions

Do they consistently drink to excess? It's worth noticing how much the person you're dating drinks or abuses other substances. First date nerves may cause a person to down a few too many cocktails one night, and that isn't necessarily a red flag. But in general, getting drunk all the time is a bad sign. If the person you're dating is drunk or stoned on every date, or they tell you about regularly using drugs that you’re not comfortable with, that’s a clue that they aren't the best person for you to be in a relationship with right now.

3. They are not single

Do they have a partner or live with an ex? Stay away until they are single. If they are truly the love of your life and want to be with you, they will end their relationship to make that happen. Just so you’re clear these are all examples of not being single:

They are with someone, but _____________________(you fill in the blank) doesn’t love them, is leaving soon, they know about you and says it’s okay, is not having sex with them anymore or they have an open relationship, is staying to help raise the kids but they are just friends, can’t decide if they love them or might be getting back together.

These excuses all mean that they are NOT single and unless you’re into open relationships or a part of a religious sect that advocates polygamy – I advise you to stay away.

4. They describe all of their ex-partners as crazy

Some relationships end so horrifically that we're still bitter at them years later, but if your new partner spews hatred at all of their crazy exes any chance they get, it's a definite sign that they may be the problem. If your partner is quick to tear apart their exes, guess what? You're next. It’s also a sign of someone who never takes responsibility which is not a trait you want in a partner.

5. They take forever to get back to you

Do they wait for hours or days to get back to you? People are busy, but it’s not hard to reply to a text. Either they are not that into you, or they like to play games. Playing hot and cold is a sign of someone who has commitment issues and is avoidant and dismissive of relationships. Back away now.

6. They say they don’t want a relationship

Do they say that they do not want a relationship or a commitment or are still hung up on another person? Listen to them and hear the story that’s being told. Not the one you are making up with a fantasy ending. If they need space as big as the outdoors, assume you are going to be left out in the cold. Find someone that wants a relationship too.

7. They are angry

Do they hate a particular race, their family, the government, their exes, certain clothes you wear, your friends, other drivers, animals, successful people or clowns? Now we all don’t like certain things, but hatred is a rot that is festering inside someone. But if you are in a relationship with an angry person, you can be guaranteed that one day they will spew it all over you.

8. They are controlling

Do they tell you what to wear, where to go, who you can and cannot talk to, or how you should live your life? A person that’s controlling will take away your self-esteem, friends, family or whatever else is getting in the way of keeping you under their thumb. Love should be supportive and be allowed to grow, not be kept on a leash!

9. They never ask about you

If your partner only likes to talk about themselves and their interests, this is not a good sign. Notice what you talk about when you and the person you're dating hang out together. If it's just me, me, me, you could be dating a narcissist.

This may seem obvious, but it can be harder to spot than you think. This is especially true if your partner is charismatic and outgoing, so much so that chiming in with your stories and opinions feels difficult. A narcissist is only interested in having their ego fed. Their objective is for you to reflect back to them how amazing they are. They’re playing a game, and winning is the goal.

Narcissists lose interest as the expectation of commitment increases or when they’ve got what they wanted from you (won the game). Most have trouble sustaining a relationship more than a few months or a few years. They value power over an intimate connection and hate vulnerability, which they view as weak. To keep control, they prefer feeling dominant and superior over others, rather than close and intimate.

10. My number one piece of advice is to trust your gut

If your intuition is telling you something is off, LISTEN to it! Usually, all the signs are there, we just ignore them because we don’t want to see them. And it’s better to cut your losses now, rather than six months from now when you are emotionally invested. If you have a pattern of ignoring or not seeing red flags, get some help from a therapist or read some books on how to change your relationship patterns. Relationships can be our most significant source of pain and the more aware we are of our unhealthy patterns, the easier it is to change them.

Caroline Cranshaw is a hypnotherapist, founder and trainer at the New Zealand Integrative Hypnotherapy Training Institute and the author of The Smoking Cure. Find out more about her at nzhypnotherapy.co.nz. Listen to Caroline's new podcast WTF Stories & Advice.