Ahead of Valentine's Day, a mental health charity has warned about five "red flags", which it says can "cause long-term emotional damage, negatively affect self-esteem."
Turn2Me says that these issues in relationships can "even cause people to question their sanity."
CEO Fiona O'Malley adds that "these five red flags can be difficult to spot when you’re in the situation and easier to spot in hindsight, but they can be very damaging and make people less trusting in future relationships."
Fiona has provided a breakdown of the five romantic "red flags":
"The first red flag, gas-lighting, is a common form of manipulation. It's quite a dark form of emotional abuse whereby the gas-lighter will make you question your reality and deny things that happened. People who are at the receiving end of gas-lighting often feel the need to record conversations so that they can play it back to the gas-lighter to prove their point."
"Unfortunately, if it’s gotten to this stage, the relationship is probably too damaged to salvage - but if you’re in this situation, ask yourself "Do I really want to be with someone who is happy to manipulate me?"
"The second red flag is love-bombing. This is usually part of a cycle of abuse and it’s when someone gives you over-the-top attention, affection, and lavish gifts with the goal of making the recipient dependent on them."
"When this attention is switched off, usually for no apparent reason, it can make the recipient question what they did and want to win back the affection and attention they received at the start of the romance."
Substance of Alcohol Abuse
The third flag is substance or alcohol abuse. If someone struggles with their willpower and self-control to the extent of letting drugs or alcohol negatively impact their life, it will undoubtedly cause strain on your relationship."
"Substance abuse can ruin a person’s life, but while you can encourage a loved one to get help, it’s a decision they must come to themselves."
Overly Controlling Behaviour
"The fourth red flag to watch out for is overly controlling behaviour, for example, if someone is trying to control your decisions, movements, appearance or how often you see your friends or family. In a positive, healthy relationship, compromise and having your own life is important."
"The fifth red flag to look out for is narcissism. The term 'narcissist' is commonly misused today. If someone is good-looking and successful, they’re often labelled as a narcissist. Narcissistic personality disorder is when someone has an unreasonably high sense of self-importance."
"They have grandiose ideas about themselves, lack empathy and crave constant admiration. They can also be extremely sensitive and fly off the handle when they receive the slightest criticism, often blaming others instead of taking ownership and responsibility for the consequences of their actions."
Turn2Me is running free, unlimited weekly support groups on relationship issues for anyone who thinks they might be in a relationship with any of these red flags.
Turn2Me's free mental health services are available 365 days a year on their website, Turn2Me.ie.