9 Eye-Opening Reasons You Miss Relationship Red Flags


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Once you recognize the pattern, you can break it.

How many times have you found yourself trudging through the emotional muck of a breakup, only to make [another] promise to yourself that you’ll “never ignore those red flags again”?

Yet, here you are, reading this article about why these same patterns keep finding their way into your life.

The good news [sort of…] is that you’re not alone. Countless people find themselves experiencing heartbreak that could’ve been avoided if they recognized warning signs earlier into a relationship.

So, why can’t you seem to snap yourself out of the attraction to all of the wrong people?

Here are 10 possible reasons why:

1: You’re seeking external validation.

Many people don’t really like being alone because they don’t really like the person they’re alone with.

If that stings a bit, it probably should.

Our society has been shaping us to seek the validation of others in order to feel “complete.” We need to have that watch, or that purse, or that many Instagram followers or be liked by everyone in order to really be valuable in this world.

The thing is, it’s all utter bullshit. The only thing that really matters is how you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself.

That’s it — me, myself, and I.

When you feel a sense of peace and belonging with you, you stop chasing all of the external fluff because it simply doesn’t matter anymore.

Yes, you still have goals, ambitions, and dreams — but you can enjoy the journey to obtaining them because you’re proud of the person you’ve become in the process.

In other words, your sense of worth comes from the only place it really can — from within.

On the other hand, if you don’t fully recognize your value, you’ll seek external validation in order to make you feel better about yourself.

Too many times, this equates to falling into the wrong relationships simply because someone gave you attention, or spent money on you, or complimented you in just the right way.

Sure, they’ve got flaws…doesn’t everyone? You’ll let it slide. Just this once.

Maybe, twice.

Alright, a few times — but they mean well.

Really, they do love you.


Before you know it — you’ve gone so far down the wrong path with the wrong person that you don’t even know how to change course anymore. And, why? Because you ignored (or totally missed) the red flags in the beginning simply because they made you feel seen, or heard, or valued.

That is, until they didn’t.

2: You find projects, not partners.

*Cringe face emoji*

Are you a fixer? You know — someone who thinks you can be the Knight in shining armor (regardless of your gender) for the person who needs you at this exact moment in time.

You can save them! If you love them enough, you can fix them!

Except — you can’t.

You know you can’t, because you’ve tried before, over and over again. You know how hard it is to change yourself, so you fully understand how impossible it is to change other people.

But, it makes you feel like you have a sense of purpose, or belonging, or value — if you just try one more time for this person who might be the one.

So, you ignore the red flags, because those are actually the very things you’re trying to fix about them. Instead of seeing red flags, you see targets. Goals to achieve. Problems to fix.

Until you’re drowning in so much stress that you can’t find the ladder out anymore. Not just your own real life challenges — which you’ve since let fall by the wayside — but the weight of the struggles that you’ve tried to lift from the shoulders of your partner are now yours.

Let me clarify — you should always be there to support your partner in all ways, shapes, and forms.

There is a big difference between supporting someone and supporting someone.

You are their partner, not their parent — and they shouldn’t need you to be one, either.

3: You idolize them.

So, you meet this new person.

Maybe they’re a model, or an athlete, or an actor that you’re a fan of.

Maybe they’re the popular person at school.

Maybe they’re a local politician you’ve voted for repeatedly.

You just met them, and now— they’re giving you attention.

Can you believe it?!

Wait a second, though — you’ve temporarily forgotten that they’re also a human being with their own flaws and challenges, because you’re so caught up in what you think you know about them.

There are more flaws than you thought.

Negative patterns in past relationships.

Dependencies you’re not comfortable with.

No time for you because of work or life commitments…

But, hey, it’s alright. You’re still dating that person!

Dating someone is not about being a fan of them, it’s about loving who they are and what they stand for. If you’re too caught up in the infatuation, they can easily take advantage of you being so starry-eyed, whether they intend to, or not.

4: You’re lonely.

Simple, but poignant.

The world can be a lonely place, especially when we are bombarded with images of other peoples’ happiness on a daily basis. You can’t even open up Instagram without seeing fancy houses, cars, abs, travel destinations, and that amazing outfit you’ve been dying to have.

Yet, here you are, sitting on your couch living vicariously through the screen.

Instead of embracing the solitude and planning out how to create that life you want to live, you become overwhelmed by the loneliness and begin craving attention.

Any attention at all will do.

Unfortunately, when that’s the case, we severely lower our standards and boundaries just for the sake of feeling a connection with someone — even if it’s a toxic one.

This is why I always say that it’s important to build a life that you love with passion and purpose before finding a relationship. That way, you’ll only be looking for someone who enhances and complements the life you’ve already worked to create. Not someone whose coattails you can latch yourself on to for the [bumpy] journey.

5: You’re a people-pleaser.

Why is it that they say nice guys (or girls) finish last?

It’s because they always put everyone else first.

Noble? Eh, to an extent.

Nobody wants to be a martyr for those who don’t appreciate them. That’s not what being selfless is about.

You can be selfless and still have integrity, self-respect, and boundaries.

In fact, boundaries are a sign of self love because it shows that you’re not willing to sacrifice your own mental health for someone else’s bullshit.

Yet, being an uber-passive people-pleaser can easily make you a pushover.

Excuse all of the P’s.

Being too passive is a surefire way to get taken advantage of by people, especially when you’re completely missing the red flags that show you who these people are.

You deserve someone who respects you enough to never even push your boundaries enough to find out where they are.

6: You’re experiencing a trauma bond.

I am not a licensed professional so I’m not going to discuss the specifics of a trauma bond, but it is defined as follows:

Trauma bonding is a psychological response to abuse. It occurs when the abused person forms an unhealthy bond with the person who abuses them.

For more information on this, click here, and if you are experiencing any form of abuse, reach out to a trusted friend or professional who can assist you in getting the help you need.

7: You’re inexperienced in relationships.

Listen, we all start somewhere.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 48, if you’re limited in your relationship experience, you might not even know what is considered normal.

You might not even know what is considered a healthy relationship if you’ve never experienced or observed one.

For that reason, you completely miss the red flags because you don’t know that they are red flags.

Use this as a general rule of thumb:

If someone takes away from your happiness more than they add to it, they’re not the one for you.

8: You fall in love with someone’s…potential.

WHEW, that word. Potential.

They’ve got potential!”

Yeah, but you’re not dating their potential. You’re dating their reality.

You can (and should) support someone in their journey of personal development — but only if they’re actually taking the journey.

If someone has the ability to do or be something, but consistently proves that they’re never going to change, you need to see them for who they truly are.

This is about recognizing a pattern, because we all have our sticking points and our weaknesses.

Dropping someone at the first sign of struggle is not right, either.

But, constantly making excuses for poor behavior or treatment because they “have the ability” to be better, doesn’t serve you or anyone around you.

No amount of ability matters if someone never uses it. It’s just the same as not having the ability in the first place.

“But, they could be so great…”

Awesome! Let them come find you when they’ve earned your emotional investment.

9: You blame yourself for their behavior.

Last, but absolutely not least, is that you think that you are responsible for their shortcomings.

You didn’t say the right thing.

You’ve not worked hard enough to earn their love.

You were texting a coworker too late in the day and now they think you’re cheating.

You forgot to ask how their mom was feeling after surgery.

Whatever it is — it’s not your fault.

Red flags and the patterns that people carry with them existed long before they met you, and they’ll exist long after you gain the strength to let them go.

Toxic or abusive behavior doesn’t happen because you didn’t work hard enough to prove yourself.

If happens for one reason alone: The person in question perpetuates the toxic or abusive behavior.

If you’ve fallen into these patterns or traps before — don’t feel bad for yourself. We’ve all experienced at least one (or more) of these at one time or another.

The past is the past, and nothing can be done to change it.

What can be done, though, is recognizing places we’ve fallen short in the past and pledging to honor ourselves more fully next time.

You don’t deserve red flags. You deserve all green lights.

Here’s to open roads and clear sailing ahead.


James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach.

Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.

James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.

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