Couples therapists have revealed the most common ‘red flags’ they see in relationships and whether or not they can be fixed.
A Reddit user asked counselors on the platform to weigh-in on the warnings signs that they see when working with couples, with experts touching upon everything from clear contempt to controlling behavior and abuse.
‘One of the biggest red flags I see when working with a new couple is when they’ve totally forgotten the good,’ one relationship therapist wrote.
Warning signs: A Reddit user asked counselors on the platform to weigh-in on the warnings signs that they see when working with couples (stock image)
Covered: Experts touched upon everything from contempt to controlling behavior and abuse
‘When people come in and they’ve been so unhappy for so long that they actually can’t remember what it was like to be in love, or to even like each other, they’re just about hopeless,’ the Reddit user added.
‘You don’t have to be happy for therapy to work — but if you can’t even reminisce about the good times, then the good times are probably over.’
A number of people noted that contempt is a strong indicator a relationship is likely going to come to an end.
‘When I experience true contempt from one in the relationship; I know it is usually over,’ one counselor wrote, while another added: ‘Nothing else spells the end like that particular emotion.’
One Reddit user shared a list of four red flags, starting with couples in a ‘tit for tat arrangement.’ The person gave examples, including one partner cheating after the other was unfaithful or one of them staying out all night because the other did drugs and violated their trust.
‘It erodes trust and compounds the hurt,’ the therapist explained.
Next on the list is ‘an affair that won’t end’ because the partner is still in contact with the other person or lying about it.
Watch out: Other common warning signs included one partner who is looking to change the other, financial and emotional dependency, and boundary violations
The expert also mentioned ‘control to an excessive amount,’ explaining: ‘I most commonly see partners having to send pictures holding up a certain number of fingers or proving that it’s a live picture. This is abuse.’
The therapist ended the list by noting how ‘overbearing parents and in-laws’ can wreak havoc on a marriage.
‘If it’s not abuse, and a partner is willing to end an affair and genuinely work on it, I’ll help support,’ the Reddit use said. ‘I think couples therapy is sometimes helping couples have the courage to voice what they really want, and that may be separation.’
Another common warning sign is when one partner is looking to change the other in a significant way.
‘When I see a couple in which one or both of the members are seeking to change something fundamental about the other person, we process where the need for the change comes from and the person with the issue evaluates whether it’s a dealbreaker for them or not,’ the commenter shared.
‘We work on acceptance and tolerance of others. I also recommend my couples are also in individual therapy on their own.’
Not hopeless: One counselor pointed out that most relationships can be saved as long as there is no abuse and both partners are willing to put in the time
Many of the therapists said they also recommend individual therapy in some cases, and it’s telling when one partner is adamantly against it.
One person opened up about working with partners ‘who suddenly become very critical or suspicious’ about individual sessions.
‘It goes beyond curiosity or simply inquiring about practice,’ the person explained. ‘There is an incredulous and almost panicked tone to it. And sure enough, Every. Single. Time. They turn out to be some variation of controlling, manipulative, abusive.’
Someone else pointed out that there are often issues when one person is financially and emotionally dependent on the other.
‘These are typically young women (sometimes young men as well) who do not work, do not have children, stay home all day and have no friends or hobbies outside of hanging out with their spouse,’ the therapist commented. ‘Very unhealthy, and a huge red flag. Always ends in a painful and messy breakup.
‘Generally, we try to get them to find a friend, join a community, get a job or volunteer — something to provide them with self-worth and personal fulfillment outside of their spouse.’
However, there is some hope, as one counselor pointed out that most relationships can be saved if the couples are willing to try.
‘As long as there is no abuse, and all parties still have feelings of love or regard for the other, just about any relationship can be salvageable with a re-establishing (or in some cases, establishing for the first time) healthy communication patterns,’ the person explained. ‘Of course, all parties have to want to put in the work as well.’