RECOGNISING: Red Flags

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The ‘We Talk’ Column, run by the lovely Naila Barrett, is a collective of individuals who’ll discuss all sorts of personal advice and issues while befriending you along the way. Previously known as the ‘Girl Talk’ Column, ‘We Talk’ is an inclusive space for everyone!

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In the RECOGNISING series, we bring attention to some important topics and situations that many people overlook but experience regularly. We aren’t professionals and this isn’t professional advice, just some light-hearted tips and tricks we’ve learned that we’d like to share.

There are five love languages; Quality time, Gifts, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation and Physical touch. My personal love language is words of affirmation, although I do believe you need a combination of all for a successful and healthy relationship. However, I personally love being complimented and love hearing how people feel about me, but this isn’t all roses, rainbows and sunshine. This means when Pete (not his real name) from London (not his real area) tells me, ‘One day I will marry you’, after ghosting me for a week, I fall for it and him. Then suddenly it’s 3am and I’m on Pinterest creating a wedding-manifestation-vision-board. Although this feels oddly detailed and specific, I’ve never actually done this – promise. This brings me to the first red flag, the over-committed non-committer.

Over-Committed Non-Committer:

This is the person who gives you the bare minimum, just enough to make you say ‘oh, maybe they are actually busy with work’ and not, ‘their LinkedIn has said unemployed for eight months’. But where does the over-committed part come in- I hear you ask? Well, this is when the non-committed person can feel you slipping away and make an unexpected and over-the-top declaration of their feelings. It may follow the lines of, ‘I can see myself with you’ or, ‘I told my mum about you’ – call me sceptical, but in the early stages of a relationship these types of lines are more often than not, untrue. Especially if their actions don’t match their words. Be wary of the over-committed non-committer, you will fall for them without even realising it and BOOM, you’re stuck in a complicated ocean of emotions and feelings. They may even shower you with gifts; Apple watches, iPhones, Chanel shoes, date nights – but they will never make you an official couple.

Replies and reply times is such a tricky one. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, no one is entitled to replies as everyone is going through their own battles with these challenging times. However, there is a difference between replying late and ghosting. I would say, personally, if someone doesn’t reply for days and days there is a likelihood that they may be deliberately ignoring you. Equally, they may be overwhelmed during these times and it’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt. However, ghosting, in general, is a major red flag and one you should most definitely listen to. Let me introduce you to, The Ghost(er).

The Ghost(er):

Just like a ghost, they pop in and out of your life and mainly show up late at night. Sometimes they disappear for weeks, sometimes days but most important to recognise – they are never consistently there. This will destroy your self-esteem and self-worth if you are a person who likes consistency and routine. Some people don’t mind people who aren’t always there but trust me – don’t convince yourself you don’t mind, if deep down you really do. It will only end in upset. Not sure if this is you? Has a partner ever disappeared for a day or two and gave a nonsensical response on their return? Then you’ve probably been ghosted. 

Late-night visits are great, especially if you’ve ordered takeout and you are waiting for the driver to show up. However, in love interests, this is usually a red flag. If you are ignored all day, then at 3am you get a ‘wya [eyes emoji]’ (where you at? Translation: you wanna see me now?) text, that person probably isn’t a good egg. Say hello to, The Night Owl.

The Night Owl:

This is one of the most obvious red flags that we ignore. Everyone knows late-night meetups only mean one thing. Let’s just say, you won’t be going to Nando’s at 3am but it will more likely than not end up being a spicy get-together. That is the last of my puns, I promise. The Night Owl will have little respect for you, especially if they disappear during the sociable hours of the day. You might be impressed that they are picking you up for a late-night meet up, but just like the drive they will take you on, the relationship may look like it’s moving, but it isn’t actually going anywhere.

This brings me to the last major red flag. This has less to do with them and more to do with you. My favourite film, He’s Just Not That into You (2009), explains this next red flag perfectly. Justin Long’s character, Alex, says to Gigi Phillips played by Ginnifer Goodwin “You aren’t the exception, you are the rule.” Mindblown. People are told these long-winded stories about how A met B and B wasn’t serious about A. B treated A terribly and would ghost them often. However, A stuck around and finally, B pulled their act together and now they are crazy in love. ‘A’ is the exception. You are most likely not, sorry. So here we go, meet The Rule (not the exception).

The Rule:

I remember saying to a friend the following: “if you’ve been hurt by people who have claimed to love you, you will most likely be hurt again and again by different people: You will recognise toxic behavioural patterns as love and you will fall, hook, line, and sinker.” (Copy and paste that and send it to your group chat). Trauma isn’t a gateway to love – it isn’t normal, and it shouldn’t be normalised. You will spend your life trying to convince yourself that your love interests flaws will one day change. However, more likely than not – they won’t. Even if reading this you have a small voice in your head saying that they might change, you are convincing yourself you are the ‘exception’: when in reality you are more likely than not, The Rule.

Recognise any of the above traits in your current love interests? Have any horror stories about the Night Owl? Did you realise you are The Rule? Or are you still convinced you are The Exception? Whatever it may be, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, tell us what you thought and most importantly, let us know if we helped you recognise red flags of your own.

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