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September 2021

Featuring Michelle Jean
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Image:  Igor Stevanovic / Alamy Stock Photo
Featured Article

Relationship Red and Green Flags

How to recognize the danger signs and good omens in a budding romance.

Relationship deal-breakers tend to be personal and specific, based on past experiences and future dreams. If you want a big family and they can’t stand kids, that’s definitely a deal-breaker. So is, “I won’t date anyone with the same name as my sister” or “I swipe left on fire signs” (honestly, same). 

Red flags are a little different. They’re the behaviors and attitudes that signal that someone is quite literally dangerous, whether that danger is emotional or physical. The ability to recognize red flags, and their positive counterparts, green flags, is one of the most important skills you can have in your relationship toolkit. 

Anything that a partner uses to isolate, manipulate or berate you is undoubtedly bad news. Gaslighting (named after the 1944 psychological thriller Gaslight) is particularly insidious, because it makes the person experiencing it start to doubt their reality and their sanity. Mind games and lying can have the same impact, especially if they are followed with empty promises that it won’t happen again. Another sure sign that someone has bad intentions is if they willfully disrespect your boundaries, often a little bit at a time to see how much they can get away with. Likewise, the way your partner expresses anger can tell you a lot about them. Someone who regularly yells at you, calls you names, shames you or uses violence in any way is someone who doesn’t have their emotions under control. This can also be apparent in the way they treat others, from being rude to the waiter to outright racism, homophobia or transphobia. 

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