According to Professor Scott M. Stanley, a research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, “A young couple marrying for the first time today has a lifetime divorce risk of 40 percent, unless current trends change significantly.” For me, the key word in this statement is the term “Trend”. A divorce rate of 4 out of 10 is just unnecessarily high and we, as a society need to figure out ways to lower it. As a relationship coach, I want to use my Conscious Dating Programs to help create a “Trend” to make people better daters and do just that.
At the heart of almost all poor relationships (especially the ones that lead to divorce) is the fact that too many people ignore the relationship’s “Red Flags”. The things that are clearly wrong with the partner or the relationship itself. These Red Flags are generally easy to spot if you know what you are looking for, but it’s the not accepting them part that leads to removing yourself from the relationship that is the real skill. Below is a list of my top 10 Red Flags that you should look out for, and if possible avoid, in all of your relationships.
1) LACK OF COMMUNICATION – The foundation of a quality relationship is the ability for you and your partner to have an open dialogue when it comes to letting each other know each others thoughts as a way to problem solve most relationship issues. If your partner fails to have basic communication skills, then conflicts rarely are resolved and your wants and needs in the relationship are unlikely to ever be met.
2) LACK OF TRUST – Few relationships can recover from this red flag, as it is the cornerstone of almost any committed relationship. Trust can be lost because of things like cheating, lies, or abuse, and once it’s gone it’s nearly impossible to get it back.
3) ACTIONS DON’T MATCH THEIR WORDS – This is one red flag that I find few people pay attention to. As the titles indicate, this happens when your partner says they will do something (or won’t do something) and the preceding action does NOT correspond with those words. These might be simple things, like saying they will call you back shortly and never do, or something larger like saying they won’t talk to an ex any more, yet continue to do so. The important thing is to pay attention to the words/action correlation and if patterns of mismatch occur you’re entering the flag raising territory.
4) SIGNIFICANT FAMILY & FRIENDS DON’T LIKE YOUR PARTNER – I know some of you reading this may shrug this one off, reasoning this is your life not theirs, isn’t it? The fact remains that when significant others in your life don’t like your partner for whatever reason, they generally have your best interest at heart. I agree, you don’t have to take unwanted dating advice, but when it comes to red flags, if you see family and friends pointing into some blowing in the wind, you should turn and pay attention.
5) CONTROLLING, ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR – This may be the easiest red flag of the bunch to actually see since you yourself are on the other end of the abhorrent behavior. My best advice to those who see even small signs of this kind of behavior early on in a relationship is to NOT accept and quickly move on. (Article Continued below).
6) NON-RESOLUTION OF PAST RELATIONSHIPS WITH FAMILY OR FRIENDS – Real behavioral changes for any person takes lots of work, so if your partner (or even date) has tumultuous relationships with numerous family members, multiple exes, and/or has lots of conflicts with people around them, then it’s fair to assume they have conflict-resolution issues. And without self-help work in this area conflict will invariably seep its way in any future relationship with them.
7) YOU ARE NOT A PRIORITY OR PRIORITY LEVEL DROPS – Being treated as a priority by a partner (and my husband does!) has always been something I personally must have. It’s true early dating excitement can skew the levels as they tend to be higher early in relationships, but simple signs like significant changes in the amount or types of thoughtful acts (i.e. gift giving) or the volume of quality time you spend with them really says a lot.
8) AWARENESS OF DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIP GOALS – I can’t tell you how many times I have heard about a budding relationship where one person says they want kids and the other says they do not, but the couple stays together for years anyway (and usually break up over the issue). In my Conscious Dating Programs this kind of goal is part of what I call your Life Vision. And when the major ones like Family Vision (as in above) or Financial Vision or Lifestyle Vision are not in alignment with your partners, you can almost certainly see what color the flag should be.
9) LACK OF PHYSICAL CONTACT (AKA SEX/INTIMACY) – I realize that lack of physical contact has a fairly broad spectrum for a red flag, since when it comes things like sex and intimacy, they can ebb and flow for a relationship and also (understandably) changes over time. The fact is that if you and your partner are not in agreement about the amount and/or kinds of physical contact you require, eventually someone is going to get the deficit somewhere else. As human beings we generally crave (if not require) human touch from a partner in some form. From simple hand holding to a morning kiss, to hot, sweaty sex, you must get what you require to be happy, because when you don’t red flag meter must wonder why?
10) IRRESPONSIBLE & IMMATURE BEHAVIOR – I group these two together because they seem to go hand and hand so often. When you have a mate who acts in ways that are not age appropriate and/or prevents them from being a productive and responsible member of the relationship team, then you typically have two choices for action: ignore it or become some kind of parental figure to them in order to try to change the behaviors. That’s why separately, or together, they are such red flags, because neither choice will keep you in a happy relationship for long.