If your gut is telling you loud and clear that this isn’t going to work, walk away. Full stop. Don’t stick around forcing a square peg into a round hole.
If you’re not quite sure, though, there are a number of things to consider, and it requires a degree of wisdom, according to Page. “We have to grow our capacity to discriminate, which basically means to trust ourselves,” he says.
Do you recognize your own relationship patterns? Nuñez and Page both agree this is crucial. If you find yourself repeating the same old patterns and attracting the same kinds of people, don’t assume this time around is going to be any different. Similarly, you want to recognize your own triggers if you’ve been hurt before. What you might perceive as a red flag could very well be a projection, Page notes.
It’s also important to understand the difference between workable differences and nonnegotiables, Nuñez explains. It can help to get clear on what your nonnegotiables are, plus what your “green flags” are. If a relationship has some minor challenges but meets all the nonnegotiables and green flags you’re looking for, you may be able to work through it. Know you deserve what you’re looking for and never have to settle, Nuñez adds.
Page recommends leaning on your support system and talking to friends or loved ones you believe have a good sense of what a healthy relationship looks like. Their insight can help you see things clearly when you’ve got your blinders on, he adds.
With all these things considered, it then comes down to communication. When you bring up your concerns with this person, how do they respond? Are they willing to work on it—and actually follow through? Can they communicate effectively and display emotional intelligence? If not, Nuñez and Page say it’s unlikely to be a successful relationship.
Sometimes, we’re so desperate to “make it work,” we wind up abandoning ourselves, and if this is happening, Nuñez says it’s time to walk away. Again, healthy relationships involve equal give and take and should add to our happiness, not take away from it.
She adds that often the red flags we identify early on turn out to be significant problems in the relationship. Without professional help, like couples’ therapy, she says, it’s not uncommon for red flag behaviors to get worse.
Long story short: “If you’re not sure, talk to the person,” Page says. He offers his best mantra for communication, which is “Say what you mean; mean what you say, and don’t say it mean.” And if you do that and they don’t respond well, “that’s a sign of what your future’s going to look like,” he says.