by Heather, a loveisrespect Advocate
We’ve all seen the movies and heard the songs about whirlwind romances that turn into lifelong soulmates…but unfortunately here at loveisrespect we often hear another tune: one where being swept off your feet leaves you flat on your back. We know that people who behave abusively towards their romantic partners are often very charming and manipulative and, initially at least, can seem perfect. For this reason, love at first sight can be a dangerous idea. Here are some red flags to look out for if you’re wondering if your partner or relationship is too good to be true.
My partner wouldn’t take no for an answer
In movies, we often see “romantic” storylines where someone is turned down for a date, but continues to pursue—even harass—the object of their affection until they agree to go out, after which point the two fall deeply in love. This is not only unrealistic, it’s also unhealthy and disrespectful. You never owe anyone anything—if you say “no” to a date, that should be the end of the conversation. Someone who doesn’t take no for an answer from the beginning is very likely to continue to do so as the relationship progresses. If you have concerns about consent or stalking, we’re here to help.
My partner showers me with compliments (aka love bombing)
It’s nice to hear how wonderful you are (because really, you are quite wonderful!) but there’s a difference between a genuine compliment and a tactic to get you to let your guard down. We often hear from heartbroken survivors of abuse who just want their partner to go back to being the sweet, loving person they were in the beginning of the relationship. Unfortunately, we know that’s highly unlikely because abuse is all about power and control, so it’s not at all uncommon for the sweet, loving behavior to also be a tactic of abuse.
My partner bought me lots of presents or very expensive gifts right away
Getting (and giving!) gifts can feel really nice, but it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to giving and receiving gifts. Especially if the people in a relationship have different levels of access to money, gifts can cause a lot of anxiety. Your partner ought to respect your boundaries, both around the value and type of gifts you feel comfortable giving and receiving in your relationship. It’s also not okay for your partner to demand that you reciprocate with expensive gifts you’re uncomfortable with. If you feel like your partner is trying to buy your love, you’re probably right. Both showering you with compliments and buying you lots of expensive gifts early in the relationship can be signs that your relationship may be moving too fast. Buying you nice things is no substitute for respect. If you’ve told your partner you’d like to slow things down but they aren’t listening, as with all things relationship–trust your gut instincts!
My partner acts differently around me than everyone else
It’s definitely normal to see a different side of your partner as you grow to better know and trust each other. However, if you realize your partner is putting on a front for everyone except you, that’s when the red flags start waving. There’s an expression– when someone tells you or shows you who they are, believe them. If you’re the only person who ever witnesses your partner’s temper, pettiness, or irrational behaviors, that tells you they can choose to control themselves…when they want to. And if no one else ever sees your partner’s true colors, that can add to the gaslighting you might also be experiencing. One helpful way to keep the facts straight for yourself, if it’s safe, is to keep a journal, so you have your own record of what happened, who said what, and how you felt.
My partner is jealous of other people I spend time with
We’ve already broken down the jealousy myths, but we still hear from lots of people who think that if their partner isn’t jealous, that means they don’t love them. While jealousy is a perfectly normal emotion, it’s crucial to cope with feelings of jealousy in healthy ways. The fact is, it’s important for everyone to have friends of all genders, and to have a life outside their romantic relationship. So if your partner gets jealous when your cousin texts you or when you’re laughing at an inside joke with an old friend, take note. If they try to control or limit who you talk to or spend time with outside the relationship, that crosses the line into abuse.
We NEVER disagree on anything
Happy couples never fight, right? Actually, because relationships are made of individual human beings there is no way two or more people will ever agree on everything 100%. If your partner always tells you what you want to hear (more love bombing), or if you tell your partner what they want to hear out of fear of upsetting them, call or chat with us. Conflict doesn’t have to be unhealthy. In fact, respectfully handling a disagreement can really strengthen your relationship!
We committed very quickly
This goes back to love at first sight being an unhealthy idea–building trust, which is the foundation of a healthy relationship, takes time. Because we know that abuse tends to get worse and more dangerous as a relationship progresses from one stage to the next (talking, dating, living together, marriage, kids, divorce, etc.), it’s always concerning for our advocates to hear from people who said “I love you” within days or were engaged within months. No matter what kind of promises you’ve made to your partner, remember that everyone has the right to end any relationship at any time for any reason.
My partner needs me to move away to be with them
Especially if you’ve already noticed any of the other red flags above, or abusive behaviors like name calling, yelling, or any controlling or hurtful behaviors, we would strongly urge you not to move away from your support system to be with your partner! Abuse thrives in isolation, so if your partner is playing the “If you really loved me you would…” card, know that that statement alone shows that they don’t really love you like you deserve.
Love isn’t grand gestures or gifts or simply saying “I love you.” Real love is respecting a partner, communicating openly and honestly with them, building trust, supporting them, recognizing their individuality and treating them as your equal.
If your gut is telling you that your romance is too good to be true, loveisrespect advocates are available by chat, phone and text 24/7 to talk about it.