The Red Flags We Never See

There are some people who have strong intuitions. They might know when something is off about someone or a situation… it is as if they have a “sixth sense.” 

But there are some people who may not have as strong of an intuition. They might not be aware of the toxic people in their life until they find themselves feeling like a rock in a hard place. 

While there are many resources on professional help for those stuck in a dangerous situation, there are signs- or rather red flags- that can be picked up to prevent us from getting into these sticky situations.

Having a sixth sense is more than just experiencing the full deal: It’s connecting the dots and patterns in people’s actions and analyzing reactions. With our sixth sense and our past experiences, Gaby and Kenzie are going to answer a few questions to help you spot common red flags.

What are your top 3 red flags people should be aware of?

Kenzie

  1. When they ignore your boundaries. If you say you’re busy, you’re busy! They should understand that, instead of being persistent about making a plan to do something. I’ve been in a couple situations where I’ve felt super overwhelmed with life, and to have someone accuse me of “not managing my time” or “being a terrible friend” because I can’t make time to do something, just makes me even more stressed. And it makes me feel like poop.

  2. They want to “come over” after having one conversation or interaction. I’ve had some people I barely know ask me to do something that involves being in an “intimate” space like riding in a car together or going over to their place. To me, that is a huge red flag especially when you’ve JUST met this person and barely know anything about them. There are a few steps to becoming a friend.

  3. When you are just starting to become friends with someone and you find them telling simple lies ALL the time. When people are lying to me for no particular reason, that is a red flag for me. I can understand that when you meet someone new, you don’t want to spill out all your life secrets; however,  if you find them telling you lies or using excuses for small things, then maybe they’re not who they make themselves out to be…

Gaby

  1. When they make everything personal. This goes for trying to get to know you a little too much, especially when they’re still considered strangers, and when they act highly sensitive to everything. There’s a fine line between saying something offensive and explaining what makes you uncomfortable, only for someone to disregard your feelings because it “hurts” them or they may feel “personally” neglected by your actions. People who cross this line seek pity points to use against you, and can even find ways to manipulate you in the future. 

  2. When they want to know where you are, who you are with, 24/7. “Hey, wyd?” is completely different from “Where is your class? When does your class end? What do you plan to do after?” While they may not ask question after question, people shouldn’t have to know about your exact location on  an iPhone tracker, unless they’re a friend you planned to meet beforehand (or they’re your mom). People who want to know what you’re doing every second of every day are most likely genuinely interested in knowing about your  lifestyle and movement. Talk about creeper 101!

  3. They insert themselves in every area of your life. Trying to maintain conversation by asking about one’s family and close friends is normal, but sometimes it can get a little too personal. People who begin to dive right into the deep things that you don’t typically share with a stranger (like your therapist) is more often than not a matter of control. A red flag is when they never leave your side, they feel obligated to know where you stand with every member of your family, friend, and want to be involved in every single one of your relationships/friendships. 

How do you recognize someone as “toxic”?

Kenzie

Toxicity comes in many forms and often goes unnoticed. You might not realize someone is toxic until they are out of your life. But to recognize when someone or your relationship is becoming toxic is so important. 

  • When they’re making you feel stressed more than happy

  • They start controlling what you do and who you spend time with

  • When you feel like they might judge you for being honest

Gaby

Everyone has flaws and their ups and downs, but a toxic person is someone who imposes their insecurities and flaws onto you. When someone begins to tell you what you think, how to feel, what to do (in moments of not seeking guidance that is), and what to say or how to react, they try to be a puppet master in your life. It’s important to separate your personal feelings from what others might think or feel to understand their intentions. “Toxic” traits include:

  • When they continuously pressure you into doing something even after you say no

  • When they come off as clingy and desperate and emphasize on their pain or depression

  • When they feel “personally attacked” or hold things against you if you try to state your opinion/hold your stance. 

What do you do when you make a great new friend and they turn out to be toxic?

Kenzie

BOUNDARIES. This is so, so important when you feel like someone is giving you red flags. Know how to say no and don’t backtrack on it. If you take back your word, it will make the situation even more complicated. It’s okay to set boundaries and to stick with them.

Gaby

Very often we struggle to see when our friends become toxic, and how to remove them from our lives. Before learning how to deal with toxic friends, remember that there is a difference between someone who is in pain and someone who is toxic. The word gets tossed around easily. A close friend who is struggling may rely on us too much or may lash out, but that doesn’t make them toxic. Start off by demanding space between the two of you: even friends who are hurting need to know that space is MANDATORY for a friendship to breathe. 

A key to really identifying the people we don’t want in our life to the ones that are having a bad moment is seeing how they react and respond when you try to put some distance between you both. A true friend and a person who doesn’t have bad intentions will respect your reasoning. Someone who tries to guilt-trip you into thinking that you’re being harsh or refuses to hear out your side is someone you want to avoid.

Not all toxic people display red flags, and not all people who signify red flags are toxic. They’re very closely connected, but even toxic people can come off as the healthiest and most reliable people that we are close to.

Identifying the obvious and not-so-obvious red flags are crucial to building bonds with others. It is not your responsibility to “fix” others. We build friendships and relationships to support others, not become their sole object of their dependency and reason for breathing. 

Friends stand on the thin rope with us to offer us a hand to help us keep balance. Toxic and people with bad intentions stand on the rope with you, only to attempt to pull you down and push you off.

It’s hard to navigate these situations, especially when you’re a person who cares deeply about how others feel. But it’s okay to set boundaries and do what is healthy for YOU. Remember that you have feelings to tend to for yourself, and that you are valid for your own set of rules and codes.