Relationship Red Flags: A Midsummer Reflection
Today marks the celebration of Midsummer. Last year a horror movie was released entitled Midsommar. In this terrifying film, we watch a relationship between the main characters Dani and Christian struggle to stay afloat while wishing for its demise. Their relationship is clearly unhealthy, but for one reason or another, they try to hang on. I don’t want to spoil the film for you, but you should absolutely watch it!
In honor of the movie, we’re going to talk about relationship red flags to acknowledge and take action on. I think these can be relevant to you whether you’ve been dating the same person for 20 years or if you are single and casually dating.
Red flag 1: They don’t introduce you to their friends or family.
If your first thought when reading this is “He/She/They are just a private person”, then you are ignoring a huge red flag. I’m not saying that all of their friends need to know about you after the first date, but if you have been on a few dates or are in a relationship with someone and you have not been introduced to anyone in their life, you should consider that you aren’t important to this person. You may also want to consider if you may be a “side-piece”. If someone cares about you, they will absolutely talk about you to their friends or family and will want the important people in their life to get to know you.
I don’t want to go too far into it, but I’ve absolutely experienced being a secret from someone that I was dating. It made our dynamic incredibly confusing and I had to make the tough decision of ending things. I was very invested in that person, but I needed to make the decision to find something healthier. It ended up benefiting the both of us. I was able to find a partner who is probably a better match for me and he learned the importance of being open with his family and friends, which I’m sure his new girlfriend is very happy about.
Red flag 2: They don’t support or get involved with your interests.
I feel like I see this a lot in relationships. One person refuses to do anything that doesn’t interest them. It could be something small like not going to a show that their partner wants to see. It could also be something bigger like refusing to cheer on their partner when they play a sport or perform. The bottom line here is that your partner should support your interests just like you should support theirs. If you always have to find someone to go with you to a cool new restaurant because your partner doesn’t want to, then maybe you should start evaluating if this really is a partnership.
For example, I’m not really fond of watching sports. They don’t interest me and usually, you have to be outside to watch them, which is not usually a fun time for me. Shaun* is obsessed with sports. He’s on a beer-league softball team and has been since before we started dating. I know that’s something that is important to him, so I make sure I go and watch at least a few games each season. On the opposite side, I am a total musical theatre nerd. I wouldn’t necessarily call Shaun a fan of all things Broadway, but whenever I want to get tickets for a show, he happily joins me and makes a real effort to enjoy them. In the last year, we went to see Hamilton and The Book of Mormon and he LOVED them! He even has us listen to the soundtrack on the drive out after. I think he would still prefer to watch a football game than go see a musical, but he knows how important they are to me and wants to support that.
Red flag 3: They isolate you.
This can happen a few ways. One of the main things that can happen is they refuse to hang out with the people in your life. That means you spend holidays with their family and only hang out with their friends. There may also be a double standard where they are able to go out with their friends without you, but get mad when you go out with your friends. If you notice this becoming a trend, GET OUT.
I think a sub-red-flag is if your partner isn’t encouraging you to be around your people. There’s a natural tendency to hang out with your friends less when you get into a serious relationship. Your partner should really encourage you to spend time with your friends every once in a while if they notice you’re spending all of your time with just them or their friends.
In 2019 we both acknowledged that we had spent a ton of time with Shaun’s friends, so for New Year’s Eve, he encouraged me to pick a party that one of my friends was hosting for us to attend instead of going to a party that all of his friends were at. We also discussed how I was going to be more selective about when I am around his friends. I don’t need to go to every night out or poker night. Instead, I can prioritize spending time or talking virtually with mine.
(I’d also recommend the show Dollface which shows what happens if you give up your friendships for a relationship and the relationship ends.)
*Shaun has given me permission to talk about him and our relationship on the blog.