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9 Warning Signs before You Take Your Relationship to the Next Level

Updated: Jan 16

Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows that it can be challenging, with a lot of give and take, and plenty of just letting go. Good, lasting, and loving relationships often mimic the stock market—although there are ups and downs, the overall trend is up. Yet not everyone is capable of riding out the ups and downs.

I have observed certain behaviors that could signal trouble ahead. Often when a partner sees these in someone they are dating, they either think they will be able to change the person or don’t take it too seriously. I say, before you take it to the next level, take them seriously.

These nine behaviors point to someone who is not aware of, what I call, their automatic brain (AB); our primitive, animalistic brain that always causes us to fight and flee whenever it picks up danger signs. Here they are.

1. Road Rage (lite)

You may be thinking your partner is a little aggressive on the road, but not road rage. That’s when someone gets really aggressive. Well, guess what? What I call road rage (lite) is more insidious and may be an easily recognized warning sign. It happens when you are driving along and another car pulls into your lane, many, many car lengths ahead. Does your partner step on the gas and tailgate the car? This is a bad sign and should signal you to drive off into the sunset…alone.

2. Treatment of service staff

How does your partner behave in situations when someone is serving you? Have you ever observed him in a restaurant? How does she treat the wait staff? Does he treat them with respect? Or, does she look at any opportunity to expose their weaknesses in a feeble attempt to elevate himself. This tendency is a big red flag and I suggest you don’t ignore it.

3. Waiting in line

You get ready to check out at the supermarket and the line is long. Does your partner wait patiently? Or, does he start getting irritated, pushy, and rude to you or the others in the line? This signs of impatience is one that doesn’t go away easily and should make you proceed with caution.

4. Reactions to your friendships

Everything is going great with you and your new beau. But one night while driving in the car, you start getting texts from some friends about a party. While driving he starts questioning you intensely, suspiciously about who is texting you. When he finds out some of the texts are coming from guy friends, he flips out and starts yelling and trying to grab your phone. He never lays a hand on you and you swear he never would. But such jealousy is usually just the tip of the iceberg and I suggest you melt that iceberg, fast.

5. Public vs. Private Treatment

All your friends love your new boyfriend. “He’s so hot,” they tell you. “He seems like such a gentleman.” Players have a way of working the crowd. If he is a gentleman in public, but overtly disrespectful and unappreciative in private, you should decide not to play along and leave.

6. Has a wandering eye

To be sure, we can be attracted to many, many people, not just someone whom we may consider a “soul mate”. However, if your partner cannot be locked into a conversation with you, or be completely present holding your hand while walking down the street, without staring at every ample-bodied co-ed who passes by, or constantly looking on at texts or social media for the next big deal, then that is sign for you to wander your eye right out of that relationship.

7. Requires compliments

Everyone likes to be complimented. It supports our self-esteem and makes us feel good. But there is a difference between wanting and appreciating compliments and needing them. Those with an insatiable need for compliments tend to be insecure. Such insecurity, unless recognized and dealt with, becomes a drain on any relationship. You will never be able to compliment enough.

8. Lying

Like many, I do not look at white lies the same as other types. Those dishing them usually have good intentions. However, I have seen couples early in a relationship, justify their partner’s deceptions as white lies, when they clearly were not grounded in good intentions. What’s the difference? Misleading you so not to hurt your feelings would be a white lie. Telling you that he needs to work late in the office and you later find out later that he was partying it up with his buddies at a strip club is different. He may try to tell you he hid it from you because he didn’t want to hurt your feelings, but don’t buy it. Chalk it up as a strike.

9. Shifting blame

Does it seem as though your partner always seems to blame you? It can be subtle, but she never seems to take responsibility for something when it goes wrong. She rarely apologizes and when she does it always comes back around to you. If only you did this; if only you did that…then we might not be where we are. A person who cannot own up to their mistakes, and worse, try to shift blame, is a person with whom you must be cautious.

All of these warning signs have one thing in common. They all represent our AB at work. The behaviors arise from our innate sense to fight or flee danger. By elevating ourselves and sometimes by deflating others, it puts us in a higher position—one that our brain processes as being safer, thus fleeing danger. However, this automatic, primitive and animalistic process, can be hurtful, if a person remains unaware. If you recognize these behaviors in your partner, and they are unwilling to make themselves more aware, you should heed the warning. If not, it might result in a volatile, unhappy, and ultimately unfulfilling relationship.

© Dr. Charles F. Glassman, CoachMD

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