5 Relationship Red Flags Everyone Misses, Experts Warn

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it’s easy to let go of certain things. Maybe your partner isn’t as affectionate as they used to be or has stopped grooming around the house. It may even be that they no longer participate in a tradition of yours, like giving you a hug when you get home from work. Fortunately, not all of these behaviors are warning signs that your relationship is heading towards a breakup. To find out, we asked therapists and relationship experts what red flags are easy to miss. Read on to find out what you need to watch out for.

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The concept of “invitation bids” was created by psychologist and relationship expert John Gottman. Essentially, offers are callouts that can be accepted or rejected.

“Bids are verbal or non-verbal, physical or intellectual, sexual or non-sexual, funny or serious,” says Saudia L. Twine, PhD, licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist. They can include telling your partner something you are thinking or feeling, asking them a question, inviting them to do something, or giving them a kiss, a smile, or a laugh. “Couples that aren’t doing well don’t respond to invitations,” says Twine. “In fact, they never get to identify them or they purposely ignore them because they don’t want to connect with their significant other.”

To fix this issue, each partner needs to be aware of the times during the day that their OS is trying to connect. “Couples that acknowledge invitations are…communicating the message ‘I love you, I want to be there for you, how can I be here for you, etc,'” says Twine. “These are things that validate an individual and make them feel loved, cared for and supported.”

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Screaming profanity on your OS is not good, but if you never disagree, it could be a red flag. “When couples say they don’t fight, I always take it as a sign that the relationship isn’t as strong as you think,” says Nicole Rainey, licensed mental health counselor and founder of Mosaic Creative Counseling, LLC. “Avoiding conflict or disagreements is not a sign of a healthy relationship, and couples who say they don’t fight often mean they each keep things a secret and don’t communicate their problems out loud.” When your true feelings are stifled, resentment can grow.

Rainey notes that disagreements are normal and essential to creating a healthy relationship. “Learning to fight fairly and calmly is actually a sign of a healthy relationship,” says Rainey. “When couples know how to fight or disagree while still giving their partner dignity and the benefit of the doubt in conversation, that’s a sign of healthy communication.” Learning to find solutions together will greatly improve your bond.

This can be as simple as assuming your partner would never skydive, or as serious as assuming they would never cheat or leave. “If a person believes their partner would ‘never’ do or think this or that, that means they may have an idea of ​​their partner rather than seeing them as a complete and complex person,” says Alli Spotts-De Lazzer, licensed in marriage and family therapist. “Also, this kind of thinking can cause a person to miss subtle and overt signs due to their own mindset.”

Fixing this problem is easy: stop taking things for granted. “Even a review of the ‘I don’t believe my partner would do X’ thinking can help,” says Spotts-De Lazzer. “For a relationship to be authentically strong, we need to see each other realistically, rather than idealistic ideas about who a person is.”

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Be honest: do you think your person is the right person? If your inner voice says no, it’s a big red flag. “People may have recurring thoughts of doubt that they play down in their mind and don’t share openly because they think it’s their problem and something they need to figure out,” says Matthew Brace, licensed marriage and family therapist at Therapy Embraced. “Within the relationship, things may look good, but a partner may be preoccupied with unwanted thoughts of doubt and feeling stuck in what to do.” When these thoughts are not addressed, it can lead to disconnection within the relationship.

To improve this issue, the partner with doubts must confess – and the other partner must take it calmly. “If someone shares their doubts and their partner responds in a reassuring and understanding way, it will strengthen the relationship,” says Brace. “However, if someone shares their doubtful thoughts and their partner responds critically, it will likely create distance in the relationship and potentially confirm doubtful assumptions.”

If you feel like you haven’t looked your partner in the eye in weeks, take note. “As a general rule, humans engage in eye contact with people they feel closest to or attracted to,” says David Helfand, PsyD, licensed psychologist and owner of Life Wise. “If you notice that your partner is avoiding eye contact, it could mean that something is going on below the surface that needs to be addressed.” You might also ask yourself the same question: am I avoiding eye contact and why?

Helfand says this problem can be solved by observing the eyes. “Many couples feel closer to each other by spending just a few minutes two to five days a week looking into each other’s eyes,” says Helfand. This can be done during sex or simply sitting on the couch after work. “It’s a powerful way to rebuild a connection with a loved one, and it can have profound effects on each person’s relationship and individual well-being,” she adds. You’ll feel more connected in no time.

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