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nikipedia's avatar

Leading up to the end of a relationship, did you ignore red flags, or really never see them?

Asked by nikipedia (27333 points ) March 21st, 2012

Inspired by another recent question I won’t link to. Those of you who have found yourself in really bad relationships, did you see red flags early on? Did you rationalize them, ignore them, hope they would go away, blame yourself?

Or did you really never see the bad stuff coming? Just all of a sudden one day, you were with someone you didn’t recognize?

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16 Answers

serenade's avatar

In my experience it’s been a good bit of rationalizing/ignoring/fog of sex, etc. Some of it, though, comes clear after each party gives up doing things they did (enthusiastically or less so) mainly for the other person’s sake. It’s funny how those red flags come back in the end.

Blackberry's avatar

I saw the flags and ignored them. There was some stuff that was hidden until later as well. I rationalized the stuff I knew about because I was an idiot. I’ve become smarter since then.

Bellatrix's avatar

Sorry this is a bit long (okay VERY long). With hindsight, I did see some flags but I didn’t always act on them or even recognise them at that time. In my previous marriage when we did have problems we went to counselling (that happened three times over the 17 years). We worked on those red flags and things got better and then went downhill again. It wasn’t cut and dried.

I did all of those things. I rationalised some problems, ignored others, hoped things would go away and yes, blamed myself. I wanted things to work out. Especially in a long-term relationship and particularly if there are children involved, you have a lot invested. It is difficult to leave. It is never black and white. It wasn’t always terrible. There was good and bad. The decision couldn’t just be about me either. While I do believe we have to look after ourselves to take the best care of those we are responsible for, it can’t be just about you and your needs. So there is a lot of trying to work out if you are just being selfish? What is the best for all concerned? All while you are in the middle of this crap and trying to figure out what is going on. Emotions are at times running very high and you feel like a failure. Like you should be able to fix things and make it work.

It is a huge decision to admit to yourself – “this is never going to work and I have to move on – for all concerned”.

You also may not have all the story. I didn’t. I found things out after I made the decision that showed me the decision was spot on. I was seriously flabbergasted by what I discovered after we separated. Both by the things I discovered but also by how blind I had been. If someone wants to hide things and you believe in that person and trust them, it isn’t hard to pull the wool over your eyes. And the person my ex became after we separated was a person I didn’t know existed! It was like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I seriously looked at what was happening and the venom that ensued and had no idea who I was dealing with. I was still operating in terms of the person I thought I ‘knew’ and he was operating as the person he actually was.

Moving on may be the right thing, but as the song say “Breaking up is hard to do” and it is. And then, hopefully it is the best thing you did. It was for me and my children. Still a sad thing though.

Aster's avatar

I just told myself for two years or almost two that he was going through something and it would pass. In fact, he kept telling me I was making a big deal out of nothing and I’d feel great for half a day then he’d start in again with his antics, then temper tantrums and finally violence and I split. I never blamed myself. I had to be absolutely certain that he was crazy and mean before I left. You haven’t known trickery until you’ve been married to a psycho psychologist. They know every trick imaginable to make you feel you’re imagining things or making mountains out of molehills. I wasn’t .

FutureMemory's avatar

My experiences have run the spectrum.

Some relationships I knew from the start were not going to work out. Don’t ask me why I allowed them to develop in the first place. Maybe I was just that bored or lonely?

Others started to show signs of dysfunction after many months of being together, yet I dragged them out because I wanted the relationship to work. The usual story, right?

And then there’s my long term relationship that lasted 5 years. When that fell apart it felt like I had been sucker punched. I didn’t see that coming at all. My girlfriend had been depressed for months, withdrawn, etc. One day she turned to me and said “I’m not sure I love you anymore”. Quite a shock considering up until then we said “I love you” to each other probably 10x a day. It took many years to recover from that, mentally.

King_Pariah's avatar

She saw the red flags when I changed, when I stopped seeing her for who she really was and started idealizing her. She gave me the chance time and time again to come out of the cloud I stuck myself in before dumping my ass more or less because I didn’t realize what she actually wanted of me, to see her for who she really was. I have now, and we’re friends. I still love her, but that ship has taken sail and will never come back to this port, kind of makes one want to kick oneself repeatedly in hindsight.

Trillian's avatar

I saw red flags in retrospect, but at the time I was a dumbass and misinterpreted them.

janbb's avatar

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. :-P

lonelydragon's avatar

Early on, I saw the signs of controlling behavior, but rationalized them away. “You’re overanalyzing” or “You’re being too critical,” I would tell myself. Gradually, the behavior escalated to the point that it was impossible to ignore, but I blamed myself. I thought maybe I just wasn’t loving him enough and that if I was more accommodating, more tolerant, etc. then the negative behaviors would cease and he would become more loving in return. Of course, nothing changed.

@FutureMemory I hear that. Something similar happened with one of my longest relationships. Only he said that he had never loved me at all. “So all the times that you told me you did were just a lie?” I thought. It can definitely give you trust issues.

mazingerz88's avatar

I’m quite introspective so I saw all the red flags. I’m also quite insecure and obsessive so even when other flags were not red, I saw them as red. Eventually, my heart got run over, my soul crushed. I think I deserved it.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I ignored a lot of red flags, but, I was young and naive and did not know what red flags really were. Now I do, and I don’t ignore them, not even once. I simply do not do drama and dysfunction of any kind, I’m older now, all I want is peace. Mess with me and you’re history without so much as a backward glance. Sure is nice to be to older and wiser, if not too damn tired to bother. lololol

linguaphile's avatar

Background information: I am probably a queen of rationalizing—I can explain away almost anything. Once I can explain something negative, I can put aside how I’m affected by it and have been irrationally optimistic. I’m always telling myself, “Things will get better,” and wait, wait, wait…. My son tells me I have way too much tolerance and forgiveness. I want so bad for things to work out that I’ll talk myself into believing that things are getting better. I also had (thank goodness I can use past tense) a tendency to minimize the value of my own feelings and thoughts.

With that in mind… I tended, in the past, to blanket-ignore red flags even though I saw them clear as day. I would see them, but rationalized them away. All my relationships in the past had red flags—but the biggest red flag is one that I did not see—my own behavior when I would minimize and rationalize the flags’ presence and discount my own feelings.

Leading up to the end of my marriage—the only difference was, I stopped ignoring the red flags and started believing in myself.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Oh yes, bright red flags so intense and phosphorescent, but boy did I ignore!!!! Call it what you will, I call it stupidity, lack of experience(on my part)and perhaps a burst to the then big ego bubble! Whereas I should have run 1000 miles, I not only stayed put and made a mess of my life, but also blamed myself. I had almost fallen into the trap again years later, but luckily was wise enough to snap back to my senses.
The red flags are ALWAYS there if only one is willing to see them and recognize them.

Coloma's avatar

Wave that flag, wave it wide and high…....LOL

augustlan's avatar

I think my ex and I were very good at seeing the red flags, and dealing with them in one way or another as they came up, for a really long time. We worked on overcoming our issues, and succeeded pretty often. That isn’t to say that the way we succeeded was always the healthiest. Sometimes it meant understanding that the other person wasn’t going to change, and deciding to accept that and live with a less than ideal situation.

In the last several years of our marriage, we kept right on trying to overcome our ever widening gap (three stints in marriage counseling, etc.), right up until we threw in the towel. At that point, it was just a matter of accepting that we were miserable together, and there wasn’t a way to change it or accept it anymore.

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