Why Am I Just Learning About Their Red Flags Right Now?

“I should have known.”

“The signs were there.”

“I’m so stupid for ignoring them.”

Red flags. We all see them in our exes…towards the end of the relationship.

To be honest, I don’t like the word “red flag” because they don’t do what we are experiencing enough justice. But for the sake of this article, we are going to stick to using that word.

As a breakup coach, I help my clients go through a process of deep “investigation”; part of the initial stages of ending a relationship has our minds going down memory lane and collecting information to help make sense of the relationship, and its downfall. (“What actually happened here?”)

If you’re still a little unclear about what a red flag is, it starts off with your noticing something off with your partner, or the experience you’re having together. You decide you don’t know quite what to say about what you’re sensing or feeling at the time, so you don’t say anything about it really. Then, months or years later, you discover a huge chain of events that stemmed from a simple red flag, or multiple.

What’s uncomfortable in this process is thinking to yourself that you “should have known better” and also, “why didn’t you?” When we see red flags only after the fact, we dwell, and we sometimes get down on ourselves.

I’m writing this article to help make sense of why our minds are just going through this process right now, instead of when they “should” have been going through it at the time of the red flag.

  1. You were experiencing something for the first time and therefore defaulted on rationalizing it. You couldn’t understand what your intuition was trying to tell you at the time, so you defaulted to wise words like, “don’t act ‘needy,’ ‘desperate,’ ‘jealous,” or thought about the importance of being “patient” in dating. It’s my belief that society has fed us a lot on how we “should” behave in relationships, to the point that we don’t address things when we feel them intuitively. Trusting our bodies and their insight is so important in relationships, and we often don’t get credit when we turn to friends to try and articulate this “6th sense” we have. Part of my process is helping my clients tap into this intuition, and also where we might have suppressed its communication with us.

  2. You’re in a place to learn and discover right now. If you find yourself stuck in this place where all you can do is think about all the warning signs, it means you’re in a state of awareness—this is a good thing. Although very frustrating, you’re now able to observe the past and learn what actually happened. It’s so hard to make sense of things in the moment. Part of making sense of things is uncovering the messy, odd, awkward, and “stupid” things that happened, and then putting them back together with a heightened awareness and perspective. You may not have been in a place of discovery when you first learned about the red flag, but here you are.

  3. The Universe only gives you what you need right now. Have you ever witnessed that on some days you’re like, “wow, this is such good timing!” and other times you’re like, “wow, of all days, it happened today!?” This is the Universe trying to communicate with you to let you know that you’re on its timeline. The Universe gives you what you need to know at the time. When you were experiencing those red-flag moments, it’s because you weren’t supposed to stop what was happening, and instead, you’re supposed to be pondering the thoughts at this exact moment. You’re reading this article at exactly the right time. Do you understand that the Universe has it’s own agenda, and your job to take things as they come? (And also learn how to become more aware of when the Universe is giving you signs, which comes with practice and faith.)

  4. You’re now learning about how fear has played a role in your relationship. When you take a look at what was governing your decision to not really say anything to your partner about the red flag, it could be that you were afraid of either losing the relationship, or afraid of what vocalizing your thoughts and feelings might mean to your partner. While difficult to article our feelings, we also realize that after some investigation into what happened, that you were scared of shattering this image of the relationship. I can appreciate that this is a hard place to be. Fortunately, right now, you might be realizing that you’ve made some choices out of fear, and not out of love for yourself and partner. This is a huge part of the personal development process of a breakup. If this is resonating with you, let’s talk about it.

  5. You’re actually uncovering your needs in a relationship for the first time. As humans, we all have needs, but we don’t always pick partners based on our needs—mostly because we have very little clue what they actually are. Depending on the chapter in your life, some needs weigh more than others. What we discover throughout the Red-Flag Awareness Stage is that many of our needs are unmet. Let’s say you and your ex fought a lot because they complained about their job a lot, and that really bothered you for “some” reason. After a bit of investigation, you might discover that it’s because right now, finding “purpose” is an important need for you, which is what your partner lacked in the course of your relationship. Part of what I do in my coaching is helping my clients put their thoughts into actual human needs. This helps create a deep understanding of the seemingly small issues that you no longer want to tuck under the rug, so to speak. Feel free to check out the Nonviolent Communication Needs Inventory to get a comprehensive list of our needs.

If I had to summarize the above, it would be as simple as:

  • If we experience something for the first time, we don’t always know how to article that feeling (but we can understand what was happening today)

  • You only know what you know at the time, for a reason (which is yours to discover today)

  • The Universe has its own timing for you (and we can begin to create with the Universe starting today)

  • We operate in a state of fear when we don’t even know it (but we can observe this starting today)

  • We rarely know what our actual needs are (but we can starting today)

Now, for clarity, I’m not here to tell you that happened to you is justified; I’m here to tell you that you’re here, right now, to uncover, discover, and learn about your past—in an enlightened way. The sooner you create meaning out of this new awareness, you’re going to grow, and get through this breakup. If you need a little extra support, Check out my online Masterclass and Coaching Programs designed specifically with you in mind

Nancy Deen