TOTALLY COOL: “Hey, do you want to be exclusive?”
RED FLAG: “No one but me is allowed to touch you.”
TOTALLY COOL: “It makes me feel weird when you flirt with other people, can we talk about that?”
RED FLAG: “If you loved me, you would stop being friends with them. You KNOW it makes me jealous.”
TOTALLY COOL: “I hope we’re together forever. I’m so in this for the long haul.”
RED FLAG: “If you ever left me, I would kill myself.”
TOTALLY COOL: “Your mom is really unkind to me, can we try to minimize how often you bring me when you visit her?”
RED FLAG: “Your mom hates me, you need to stop talking to her. She’s trying to ruin our relationship.”
TOTALLY COOL: “I love you so much, oh my god.”
RED FLAG: “It’s a good thing I love you so much, because no one else would. You’d be alone forever without me.”
Other important red flags to keep in mind: someone who wants to jump into emotional/financial co-dependence very fast (like moving in together right away, or becoming each other’s only confidantes right away) and won’t take no for an answer; someone who tries to minimize how often you leave the house or interact with other people; someone who threatens you or themselves or your family or pets or possessions or financial future; someone who uses guilt to keep you from leaving a relationship.
VERY IMPORTANT REMINDER: You do not need a reason to leave a relationship. Neither does the other person (or people). A relationship is over when one of the people in it says it’s over, period. Obviously it’s kind to take the end of a long relationship seriously, but abusers and manipulators have lost the right to that conversation. Lie if you need to–your safety is much more important than their feelings.
Trust your instincts!