No one shows up to a first date with a warning label adhered to their chest. But if you’re an introvert who is beginning a new relationship, you can look for red flags. Red flags mean you should proceed with caution; they don’t necessarily mean you have to break up. But the bigger and brighter the red flag, the more of a clue it is that there may be trouble between you and your beloved down the road.
I repeat: it’s crucial to look for red flags at the beginning of a relationship. That’s because the longer you’re in a relationship, the harder it is for you to leave when it becomes emotionally unfulfilling or perhaps even dangerous, according to psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne, author of The Search for Fulfillment. Think about it. Breaking up always sucks, but it’s easier to leave someone you’ve dated for only a few months than it is to say goodbye to someone you’ve been committed to for years.
Plus, it may be even harder for introverts to leave a relationship than it is for extroverts. We may hesitate to act, getting stuck in analysis paralysis, spending weeks (or years) analyzing our situation. Because we tend to go out less and meet fewer people, we may worry excessively that we’ll never find a new SO if we leave our current one. Or we worry that our introversion makes us too quirky and weird to ever be loved again. These fears can trap us.
And, when you look for red flags, it forces you to make a conscious choice to enter a new relationship. The more effort you put into the decision to get involved with a partner in the first place, the harder you’ll work to keep the relationship strong, according to Whitbourne. Even if you decide to ignore red flags and enter a relationship with someone new but risky, you’ll still be better prepared to deal with future problems.
“Consider how you would make the decision to buy a car: You may realize that it’s got some weaknesses but decide to accept them, and, in fact, you may work that much harder to keep it in top condition, especially if you decide you’re happy with it, flaws and all. It’s not the objective nature of the situation — the number of warning signs in a partner or the scratches on a car — but the fact that you actually put effort into deciding to make a commitment.”
Red Flags Introverts Should Watch Out For
What are some red flags introverts should look for? This is not a comprehensive list, but here are 12 crucial ones:
1. Your family or friends don’t like your new boyfriend or girlfriend. Other people will be able to see your new special someone more objectively, because they won’t be swooning under their love spell. If you’re getting negative reactions from many people, consider listening to them.
2. The relationship is moving too fast. Your sweetheart wants to make commitments before you’re ready and pressures you to respond in kind. Lasting relationships start out more slowly.
3. The object of your affection has few (or no) friends. Introverts tend to have small social circles. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about someone who doesn’t seem to be able to tolerate other people in their life or get close to them. This could signal that your partner lacks the capacity for true intimacy.
4. Your SO doesn’t respect your need for alone time. It’s a constant battle to get a few hours to yourself. A partner who is clingy or needs constant attention will not be a good fit for an introvert in the long-term.
5. You often find yourself giving in to your partner’s demands in order to avoid a fight. Another night out with friends, even though you don’t have the energy for it? Oh, okay. This dynamic will lead to a life of perpetual exhaustion and resentment.
6. You don’t get enough one-on-one time with your partner. Friends and family are always coming along for the ride. When you raise this concern to your partner, they accuse you of being antisocial or needy.
7. You find yourself frequently saying “everything’s fine” when it’s not. You walk on eggshells and don’t feel like you can express your concerns to your partner. You worry that speaking up will erupt in a nasty fight.
8. Your SO does not make contact with your inner world. You don’t feel comfortable opening up to them, so you keep your most authentic thoughts and feelings to yourself. As a result, they don’t know the true you. If they could see inside your mind, they’d be shocked.
9. You frequently feel lonely, even though there’s another person around. This means the relationship is not serving your emotional needs. People feel lonely when they want to connect with someone, but no one is available or willing to connect. You will eventually look elsewhere to get your emotional needs met.
10. Your beloved is super secretive about your relationship on social media. Introverts tend to be private. We may not share all the details of our personal lives online. But if your partner posts with the frequency of a Kardashian but doesn’t say a word about your relationship, it raises a red flag. If the two of you are committed to each other and they’re still hiding their relationship status or never posting couples photos, they may want to appear to be unattached. Couples who are excited about their relationship usually want to share their happiness with family and friends, at least on some level.
11. Your partner is your harshest critic. It’s one thing to tolerate playful jokes and teasing, but if moral support is in short supply or if nitpicking and criticism are around-the-clock, it’s a sign of trouble.
12. Your partner is a heavy substance or alcohol user. A pattern of getting drunk or high suggests that your new love may be dealing with deeper psychological issues that may continue or get worse with time.
Remember, none of these red flags alone are deal breakers. Just because you see a red flag doesn’t mean you have to leave the relationship. But you should think carefully before proceeding.
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