Do these red flags look familiar?
At some point, you've probably made a joke or two with your best friends about seeing and acknowledging red flags…and ignoring them. At times, it can be “funny,” but there’s nothing healthy about romanticizing toxic behavior. Especially when it skews your perception of reality and gives you deep-seated emotional trauma.
Sometimes, we excuse toxic behavior and eventually suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, these may be subtle forms of emotional and psychological manipulation that are actually very common. Do these look familiar?
Newsflash: When it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Love bombing is a type of manipulation that can actually be difficult to recognize. It may start off with seemingly harmless and affectionate messages that start with the occasional pet name. This can progress to lavish gifts in a short period of time. In actuality, these are tactics that drive over-the-top romance very early on in a dating relationship without a solid foundation.
Licensed therapist Sasha Jackson, LCSW encapsulates what love bombing is on Cosmopolitan: “Love bombing is characterized by excessive attention, admiration and affection with the goal to make the recipient feel dependent and obligated to that person.” These people, often described as narcissistic, want to immediately obtain the affection of the receiver by presenting an idealized image of themselves. In actuality, they’re just feeding their ego. They lull their partner into a false sense of security by manufacturing feelings of immense loyalty and trust.
Gaslighting, especially in romantic relationships, exists. It's a form of emotional abuse. Gaslighting essentially manipulates you into perceiving your reality differently. People who gaslight are masters at deception and intimidation, using guilt, fear and obligation to tie them to their significant other for a period of time.
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Think you're a victim of gaslighting? These are some tell-tale signs: feelings of disorientation, increased anxiety and/or depression, isolation, shattered self-image and shame.
Self-confidence is very much different from narcissism. A narcissistic individual is characterized as one who has a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. Think: an inflated sense of importance and a lack of empathy for others. Licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC recognizes narcissism as “selfishness at the (usually extreme) expense of others, plus the inability to consider others’ feelings at all.”
Narcissism can be as simple as someone making the conversation about them all the time, fishing for compliments non-stop, or not apologizing and validating your feelings.
When your energy and joy are depleted when spending time with a partner, when they give you the bare minimum, it may be time to rethink your relationship. Draw and be explicit with your boundaries. Trust your gut. Stay in your reality. Let these red flags be relationship deal-breakers!
Art Alexandra Lara