Why You Should Listen To Red Flags
When I was 21 years old, I met my life partner. Picture London in the 80s; a young Marquesa Lola, new in town from Spain. Going to school and working in a London hotel to pay for rent and school. Weekends were spent with school friends and perhaps going dancing. On one of those weekends, I met HIM. Why should you listen to red flags? Ignoring Red Flags lead to years of harmful emotional distress in my life.
The first time I saw him was on the train as we rode back from dancing with some mutual friends. That very first day when I met him, he pushed my physical boundaries as we rode the TUBE across London. In a matter of minutes, without warning, he proceeded to fondle me. I felt shocked and flattered at the same time. But mostly, I felt uncomfortable, yet I stood still in disbelief.
I later pushed this incident at the back of my mind. However, for the rest of my life, I have always wondered if that behavior was typical of someone who felt entitled to ignore women’s physical boundaries. I believe that on that first day, I ignored the first RED FLAG that has been the precursor of an entire life of his entitlement over me.
“I ignored the first RED FLAG that has been the precursor of an entire life of his entitlement over me.”
There were many other RED FLAGS I ignored from the beginning of my relationship, but I did not recognize them as such. I was very stunned at the fact that the first few weeks after we met, he would be extremely interested in all I had to say. His core values coincided with mine completely. He loved everything about me; my country, my family, my friends, my political views, my kind disposition, my sense of responsibility, the empathy I showed for others. We were made for each other too fast, too soon. He was just learning everything about me only to later use it against me. He would years later say, “you are too emotional, weak…” and that way, he destroyed my self-esteem one inch at a time.
In a matter of months, we were living together, but there were times when I felt a sense of loneliness, even in his presence. At times, I was given the silent treatment for something I didn’t know I had done. This became standard practice for years in our relationship. I thought at the time he was reserved, or he needed his personal space. So, even though I felt I was being punished for something I had no idea about, I ignored this visible RED FLAG that has been a constant in my life ever since.
He always made all the decisions in the household. He decided for us to move to America in the 80s, separating me from my family and friends. I did not complain; it sounded like a great adventure. That was another RED FLAG. My opinion was not asked, as this was a plan he had had for years.
“Would I have chosen to acknowledge the first Red Flags I would have avoided years of insecurities, fears, anxieties, emotional disconnect with my partner.”
He constantly told me what I should do, and his compliments were always shady, giving me a feeling that rather than a compliment, it was more like a put-down. He would say, “you could be a model, only if you were taller.” Well, if you think about it, he was just calling me short, not “a model”. These and many unnecessary remarks and put-downs were RED FLAGS again ignored by me that led to my decline and diminished self-esteem later in life.
Over the years, I became insecure, fearful, and anxious. When my son was born, I concentrated on his well being, and then, my partner found other ways to find himself busy. He worked hard and found hobbies that kept him out of the house for many hours. My son and I were invited to go with him if we wanted to be together as a family. That was the next RED FLAG. He never included our hobbies in his schedule; rather, we were included in his.
The wandering eye and the “gaze” was another RED FLAG I ignored for years that made me feel insecure about my looks. He would check every woman in a room and, at times, gazed intensively at them. If I called him on it, he would say I was crazy and that it was not valid.
All these RED FLAGS I ignored, have marked my life for good. Over the years, I learned to walk on eggshells and to take his word as the one ruling the family. The ultimate RED FLAG is when you realize that after taking care of him, his mother, the family, the house, and the dogs, suddenly, you feel alone. Your cooking is not good anymore; you are not slim or young enough. And little by little, you are replaced with a more youthful, shinier supply.
“We should always trust our instincts.”
As you can see, this last RED FLAG was the last straw for me that liberated myself from the emotional abuse I was suffering for years, allowing me to start being myself again. Would I have chosen to acknowledge the first Red Flags and set boundaries or end the relationship then, I would have avoided years of insecurities, fears, anxieties, emotional disconnect with my partner, and also depression.
One lesson I learned is that in life, we should always trust our instincts and notice how other people make us feel. If we think that a particular behavior doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it, it is a RED FLAG. Set boundaries, especially if that person is a family member, a friend, a boss. If it happens to be a partner, my advice is to run, run as fast as you can because you will not change them. Instead, they will tear you down over time.
Even though I went through all this, I now feel liberated from all the drama that surrounded me. Being in a relationship like this, I have an excellent opportunity to rebuild my self-esteem, recover the person I used to be, and just be Marquese Lola, not someone’s mother, wife, or teacher. I consider myself very lucky because having learned from the RED FLAGS I ignored before. I can now approach life with the certainty that the next stage in my life as a vibrant, free person, I will not hesitate to acknowledge the RED FLAGS, intercept them, and eliminate the source of them immediately from my life. The future feels liberating, and I look forward to the beginning of a brighter life. I feel lucky that I can recognize red flags for my next step in my life.