While sitting with my friends and discussing our past relationships and who they considered their “crazy exes," I began to realize things about my last relationship that I had never thought about much before. While I never had someone throw a pancake at my face (as one friend did), I did have some things happen that were not very nice, let alone mature or healthy for a relationship. At the time, however, I ignored those events, and I ultimately got my heart broken because of it. I didn't stop to consider any red flags that had arisen.
From my own personal experience, as well as the experiences of others that I've spoken to, it's extremely hard to find fault in the actions of your significant other while in a relationship. This can be for any number of reasons.
I wanted to believe that I could “change" my significant other. I thought that if I encouraged him to be better, the concerning things that I was noticing would eventually go away. I thought that because he loved me, he would be how I wanted him to be. When my friends pointed out that this may not happen and some people will never alter their ways, I said that people are always capable of changing. Unfortunately, more often than not, they aren't. I still choose to believe the best in people, but I am now more cautious when it comes to hoping that someone will change for me.
The ability to completely ignore red flags also comes from simple emotion. When you fall in love with someone, they become perfect in your eyes. This can be dangerous; no one is perfect, no matter how badly you want to think they are. Accepting imperfections is part of building a healthy relationship. When you're deeply invested in someone, however, it becomes difficult to distinguish between harmless imperfections and issues that could negatively affect you and your relationship.
Fear of losing someone also seems to completely override any red flags that may come up. Whether it's the fear of not speaking to someone you talked to every day, being single forever, or even looking foolish to those around you, fear can be a huge factor to staying in a relationship with someone who doesn't treat you how you should be treated and constantly seems to be hurting you.
Does this mean that we're dumb and clueless?
No. Even though you may feel like a complete fool looking back on the red flags that you ignored, you are not. People may wonder why you allowed it to happen, but when it comes down to it, they would probably do the same thing with someone they are in love with. And, chances are, they know it. When I told my friends how upset and angry I was about things that happened during my relationship, how I now realized that I shouldn't have let myself be treated that way, and that I wished I had listened to them when they warned me, they understood. They weren't mad that I had ignored what they tried to tell me. Most of them had done the very same thing.
Now that we've realized the red flags, where do we go from here?
Whether you jump right into another relationship or stay single, keep an eye out for red flags in a relationship. Yes, it'll be hard. Yes, you'll probably have another relationship where you completely ignore the red flags and do it all again. Yes, you'll probably feel stupid.
That's life. Love, and learn, and make mistakes. Remember your self-worth, and try your hardest to surround yourself with those who love you for who you are. And remember that one day, you'll find someone who loves you, won't hurt you, and really can be perfect in your eyes. Most importantly, you won't be able to ignore any red flags, because there won't be any.