Relationship Red Flags

 I’ve shared before that in my previous relationship, I’ve felt that I missed seeing the red flags that should have been tell tale signs from the beginning. After reading Hardin and Tessa’s love story from the “After” series by Anna Todd, red flags have become even more important to me and I feel recognising and remembering these will hopefully allow me to be a better partner in the future, if that ever comes around again. I’ve shared my thought about future relationships previously, so be sure to see that post here.

1. Secret Relationship Status.

Something that should have stuck out from the beginning is keeping a relationship secret from family and friends. I told all my family and non-mutual friends I was interested in - slash in love with - him before we were even official. He told no one and refused to let us go public. We never did officially make an announcement. My two closest archery friends found out when it was made quite obvious at an archery competition, whilst the other members of the club, asked when we arrived at a barbecue together. It always hurt me that he never wanted to share us and it made me question things from the very beginning.

2. Hiding Devices.

Secrecy when it comes to phones is something that is always worrying. Whenever you speak to people or read about it, the first thing that comes up when partners won’t give you access to their phone is that they’re hiding something. Of course, worse case scenario is cheating. I never thought that about him but it made it hard to trust completely. For the first few months, even a year, I put it down to him being a private person. It wasn’t until later on it began to affect me. I never wanted to read his messages or go through his private notes. Even simply asking to search something on his phone was a big NO! If he ever did let me briefly hold his phone for a few minutes, he would watch over my every movement and make me feel incredibly uncomfortable.

3. No Social Media Presence.

I know a lot of men aren’t big on social media and posting things, but I can’t say it doesn’t hurt when everyone else seems to be receiving public displays of affection and I had nothing. I never made it on his Instagram page and only made it on Facebook, in a birthday post he made weeks before we broke up because I brought it up and he thought it would appease me. In a way that hurt more because I knew he felt forced into doing it and didn’t actually want to do it himself.

4. In-Law Acceptance. 

I never thought my partner’s family would matter to me. It hasn’t been until the last couple of years I’ve realised that it is important and sharing a relationship with them is part of the package, whether you like them or not. My family are incredibly welcoming, always accepting and include significant others without question.

Whenever I was with his family, I was always made to feel isolated. His mother hated me. Multiple times she would make comments about how much I ate, which them made me uncomfortable eating around her, or would put me down in a private conversation with me and him. In general, she didn’t like me and never did. I wasn’t allowed to be left alone in a room in her house because apparently I’m the type of person to steal something. “Gee. Thanks.”

His step-father was different, in that he was sarcastic and tried to make jokes constantly, but they were always at the expense of me or him. Whilst I stuck up for him and supported him, I was left to fight my own battle with no team to defend me. His sister and brother-in-law simply made no effort at all.

The hardest part about the day of the break up, was the first thing he said when I said I felt we needed a real break was that his parents had just given me a cheque for my birthday and made out I should have broken up with him before they gave me money. After three and a half years together, it all came down to money. Somehow, I knew it always would.

5. Monetary Value.

That leads on to this. My family aren’t the wealthiest, but I’ve always been lucky and never wanted for anything. I know his family haven’t always been in the same situation but that doesn’t mean it needs to be uncomfortable. For one of his birthdays, I thought it would be nice to go out for a family meal. We organised it all, only to show up on the day and be told very clearly that they would not be treating us to the meal or paying. Everyone would be paying for themselves, for exactly what they consumed.

He followed his families path for the majority of the relationship, never once offering to pay for a date in the early days. It was always equal split. In the end it was usually, I pay for one, you pay for one. But he also used the distance travelled as an excuse. Despite me being a student with no job and him earning the average U.K. salary, because he was spending money on fuel to visit me, I should pay for the meal.

I still remain in complete shock at the breakup statement as he has never once paid for a single item, meal or holiday when we have been out with my family. They have always treated him. And of which, there have been not just one as with his family but a constant, almost monthly event.

6. Destroying Self-Esteem.

I never realise how much he truly destroyed me, until I started trying to date. Other men would complement me and describe me in words he never shared. He occasionally said I looked nice but I never remember him calling me hot, or sexy, or beautiful. It’s amazing what a few kind words can make you feel.

I’m a relationship, you should feel comfortable in your own skin and I honestly didn’t. Very early on in the relationship, he called me overweight and said I ate too much so from then on, my self-consciousness over my stomach only grew. He hated that I didn’t feel comfortable walking around naked in front of him, but I hated that he didn’t make me feel good enough for him.

7. Talking to Ex’s.

Honestly, this one’s kind of mixed point for me. I never thought I would be the jealous type, and in many ways I wasn’t, but when it came to him hiding things from me, that’s when it made it more difficult. After seeing him like and comment on his ex’s pictures, I asked him to stop. He didn’t so asked him to remove them as friends on social media. He told me he did but I later learnt he didn’t. I think if you’re honest with your partner about being in contact, that’s different, but hiding it is no. It also didn’t help that despite him saying he did the breaking up with both of his previous partners, I know deep down he wouldn’t have broken up with either. With his first, she wanted children and they drifted. His second, left university without a word and from the sounds of it, a break up was assumed with the lack of contact.

8. Jealousy of Achievement.

I think the real time he started to withdraw from the relationship, or at least when I first felt it, was when the offer I put in on a house was accepted. He’s been supposedly looking for a house to buy since before we got together, but more seriously the year before I bought my home. I had always said, my goal was to buy a property, a year after I qualified. I already was lucky enough to have the deposit, but needed the combined salary.

We made a commitment to each other that whoever bought a house first, the other would move in with them. On his part, he was quite keen to buy together, but I’d always made it clear I wouldn’t do that until I had an engagement ring. I never imagined that three years later, he still wouldn’t have a house so I started looking also. I fell in love with a house and increased my offer over asking price to be successful. Since that day, he never seemed happy for me or for us.

Whilst I was planning our future together, imagining being carried across the threshold on our wedding day, picturing bringing our newborn baby home to our first family home, he carried on looking for a house of his home. I was devastated.

9. Lack of Commitment.

Ultimately, for me it was the lack of commitment that prevented me from truly being comfortable in the relationship. I know I may overthink and over-plan compared to some, but I also know if he’d have ever given me a flicker of a future together, I would have stayed. Instead, I felt like I was constantly waiting for the next step in a future that was never going anywhere. We spoke about engagement and marriage early on in the relationship and then the longer life went on, the more he seemed to withdraw. It went from him moving in and talking about engagement, to him moving back, refusing to stay over and seeing no future living together.

Despite it all, even writing it down, I still love him. I will always love him and he will always be the person who I gave everything to. I will never be able to be that vulnerable with someone again, I know it. I tell myself that I wish I could go back in time and communicate harder perhaps and he could have tried to better home self for me, but I know I fought as hard as I could and I have him chance after chance to help us, and ultimately he didn’t want us because he never loved me as much as he said.