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In the early stages of a relationship, it’s important to pay attention to the other person’s behaviour and how they make you feel. You can ask yourself:
Your answers to these questions might help you figure out if the other person is showing red or green flags. Remember, trust your gut.
Red flags are warning signs that indicate unhealthy or manipulative behaviour early on in relationships. They signal the potential for abuse to get worse over time, so it's important to be able to recognise red flags in relationships, and take them seriously.
Red flags aren’t always easy to recognise which is what makes them so dangerous. Being aware of some common red flags can help you to identify unhealthy relationship dynamics early on, and keep safe.
Red flags include:
You feel overwhelmed or suffocated by someone's intensity in a relationship. They want to spend all their time with you, show up everywhere in your life, become impatient when you are slow to respond to their messages, or continuously shower you with loving words and actions that make you feel uneasy.
Your partner tries to make you doubt your relationships with your friends and whānau. You start to feel as though you are being pulled away from other important relationships in your life.
Jealousy is a normal human emotion that is often a part of relationships. Extreme jealousy is different. Extreme jealousy is when your partner demands to know where you are and who you are with. Your partner becomes jealous of who you are connected with on social media, or accuses you of cheating or flirting with other people when you're not.
Your partner uses words as weapons to make you feel small. They say things to you that are mean or humiliating. They make fun of you in ways that really hurt. When you tell them that they have hurt your feelings, they accuse you of overreacting.
You and your partner frequently break up and make up. Tensions are often high which leads to big fights between you followed by big promises that things will never get that bad again. It starts to feel as though you’re on a ‘relationship rollercoaster’ – and not a fun one.
Your partner tries to convince you to have sex when you don't want to. They don't take 'no' for an answer. They say “If you like/love me, then you would have sex with me”. They threaten you with leaving or other things if you don't have sex. They make you feel guilty or embarrassed for having boundaries around sex.
If you recognise any of these red flags in your relationship, it’s a good time to pause and think about the dynamic you really share with your partner. If you need support to talk things through or need help leaving the relationship, you could talk to someone you trust, or click below for support services:
Green flags are the relationship behaviours that we want to see. Green flags indicate a relationship is safe and healthy. Green flags give people in a relationship a sense of security, confidence, pleasure and fulfilment.
Green flags include:
Your partner respects your rights to your own feelings, time, privacy, friends, and activities. They respect your boundaries.
While you enjoy spending time with your partner, you also feel as though you can spend time alone or with other people outside of your relationship (i.e. with friends and whānau). It’s important to maintain your independence and other support systems.
Your partner has your back, and uses words that encourage you, and build you up. They are there when you need someone to talk to. They make you feel confident to achieve your goals and are happy for you when you succeed.
You feel as though you can freely talk to your partner about a range of topics, including ones that are tricky. Your partner listens to you without shaming, judging, or blaming you. You should feel as though you are being heard.
Your partner doesn't expect to get their way all the time. Instead, you come to agreements and make decisions together. They are willing to compromise to ensure you are both having your needs met in the relationship.
Your partner trusts you. They are happy for you spend time with your friends and whānau when they aren't around. They don’t accuse you of flirting or cheating when you are not. They don’t monitor your online activity and tell you who you can and can't be friends with.
Your partner speaks openly and truthfully. You feel as though you can trust what they are saying and that they aren’t hiding things from you. Your partner is willing to own up to their mistakes.