If you’re reading this, you know how difficult relationships can sometimes be. Sometimes, when things don’t work, we ask ourselves why we allowed the dysfunction to continue for as long as it did. Here are 5 reasons we ignore relationship red flags and dysfunction in a relationship.
This is a dicey one, because while it is true that people change, it rarely happens. It is probably the number one reason we ignore relationship red flags. One example of this is the “once we get married, things will change” attitude. Many people believe that marriage is the magic transformer of behavior. If a person is disrespectful, unfaithful, dishonest, unforgiving, very jealous, etc before marriage, the majority of the time, you will meet the same person during the marriage. Another one is the “I can make them change” attitude. You can inspire and encourage your partner to change but until they decide they want to change, your efforts will be like fetching water with a basket.
The popular slang saying goes, excuse my language “You cannot turn a “hoe” into a housewife.” (disclaimer: I do not support this sexist remark. I only use it to convey a sentiment that reflects the point I am making.) But a “hoe” can indeed turn into a housewife if she decides to make that change. You could be the most understanding, kind, thoughtful, forgiving, prayerful or enduring person there is. In the same regard, a serial cheater will only stop cheating if s/he decides they want to.
Everyone has hard times / Others have it worse
Yes, everyone does have hard times in their relationship. There is however a thin line between hard times and dysfunction. The first is occasional, whereas the latter is the norm. When you are in a dysfunctional relationship, you often seek and feel comforted when you hear about other people’s relationships similar to yours. This helps to normalize your experience. Hard times and rough patches cannot be completely avoided in relationships, but when the majority of your relationship is defined by difficulties between you and your partner, this is a relationship red flag.
Additionally, there will always be other people who have it worse than you. You will find that gradually, you begin to prefer the stories that are “worse” than yours. In some ways, you get comfort believing that your situation isn’t that bad. When your standard becomes what is worse and not what is better, this is a good indicator that something dysfunctional is happening.
I can’t afford to leave / I love him or her too much
For some people, this is literally true. Being financially dependent on your partner may cause you to ignore relationship red flags. Other reasons why you may do this include staying together for the children, avoiding shame, investment of time and resources, etc. This one is also another very common reason why we may ignore relationship red flags. I did not make love a stand-alone main point though people use this reason often. I did this because, oftentimes, when people dig deeper, love is not the reason they ignore relationship red flags. One of the other points is usually the real reason.
This too, will pass
No situation is permanent, this too shall pass, joy comes in the morning, after the rain comes the rainbow. These are all words of encouragement we’ve heard at some point in our lives. And if you have shared your relationship issues with others, you may have heard some of them before. These statements while true, can lead a person in a dysfunctional relationship to ignore relationship red flags and endure unnecessary pain for years. One helpful way to determine if this a temporary situation or not is to cast your mind back to the very beginning. Were there signs of this behavior you may have missed because you had your love goggles on? Has this been the norm in your relationship over time? If your answer is yes, chances are that this too, more than likely, shall not pass!
It’s not big a deal
Sometimes, we ignore relationship red flags because we believe they are trivial. Some red flags are smaller than others. Those ones are usually more visible in hindsight, when you are piecing things together. For example, being told by someone you’re dating that, they cannot take your calls after 8 pm because they’ll be too tired to talk…
I know the tone of this article may seem somewhat pessimistic. I want you to take away 3 main things – firstly do not ignore relationship red flags (work on them or leave), secondly, dysfunction is a consistent pattern, and thirdly, a person will only change when they are ready to. In light of this, give your relationship a chance, fight for it, work hard for it but if you see any relationship red flags do not ignore them. You may save yourself a world of heartache and pain.