Relationship Series: Red Flags – Part 5

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

This article will discuss keeping your relationship a secret and substance addiction as relationship red flags. The accompanying video can be found here.

1.  If they keep your relationship a secret or say they need to be “discreet.”

This is a red flag because we’re not children who generally tell all of their business to others, nor are we teenagers. My thoughts turn to, “Who are they trying to keep secrets from? Who are they hiding from?”

When initially meeting someone, you don’t know people in their circle and they don’t know anyone in yours, so who would you tell about them that would know them? They may be projecting potential guilt for if they were to be seen with you or someone suspected them of being in a relationship with you.

2.  They’re addicted to alcohol or other substances, whether legalized or not and seem to not realize the negative effects it has on their day-to-day life OR they’re aware and don’t understand the need to seek and receive help to work toward living a sober life.

NOTE: Addiction isn’t only alcohol, drug use, substances such as caffeine and tobacco, but can include shopping, pornography, gambling, sex, et al.

The criteria for being diagnosed with an addition is a combination of the following: wanting to cut down or stop and not able to do so; feeling you need that substance to function properly; mismanagement of daily life or that of dependents; continuing use when it interferes with personal well-being, employment, friendships, or care provided to loved ones; continuing to use when it puts personal life or the life of others in danger; needing more and more of the substance to maintain or reach a certain feeling; and, experiencing withdrawal symptoms if the period between usage is prolonged.

A diagnosed addict is a person who feels they NEED the substance to function effectively on a day-to-day basis. The substance use, or engagement in certain behaviors, helps the person feel better in that moment, but once the high wears off the same problems remain and the cycle is perpetuated.

One scenario is the person we see on the street asking for money and you can tell by how they look they’re wanting money for substances. This person may be homeless, unemployed, and have no family or friends to turn to for help. This person has hit what’s considered rock-bottom and continues seeking ways to obtain money to maintain their habit.

Another scenario is the person who’s considered a “functional addict.” They’re not diagnosed as being an addict because they function well within their substance usage. They dress appropriately, maintain employment, pay their bills on time, take care of their families, and have a circle of friends they spend time with on a regular basis.

NOTE: There are more than these two scenarios.

The functional addict’s behavior is different than the diagnosed addict. The functional addict is able to wait until they have unstructured time, a time when they’re not responsible to anyone or have any obligations to meet, to engage in their habit. They may binge from Friday after work until late Sunday evening. They may have a few drinks every evening at home. They may hang out with a certain group of friends every Friday night for drinks at a bar or club. There’s a distinct pattern to their usage whereas a diagnosed addict will use when and wherever they can without regard to what’s going on around them or who they hurt.

Signs that a person may have an addiction include, but aren’t limited to: them complaining about multiple people telling them they should stop engaging in a certain behavior; them questioning why you don’t use substances or engage in other risky behaviors; they don’t go out with you on certain nights because that’s their night to hang out and “party” with certain friends and they don’t invite you along; they acknowledge you wouldn’t fit in with their other friends; they have a problem being around you when you don’t use substances; a person saves their money to support their habit versus buying up-to-date clothing or groceries, et al.

There’s a lot more that goes into addiction and addictive behaviors, but it’s more clinical than this article has space for. If you’d like to know more, let me know.

I’d love to hear if you’ve experienced the abovementioned red flags in a potential relationship and how you dealt with it. If you recognized yourself in the article, what have you learned or how did you overcome those perspectives and challenges?

Comments are always welcome as well as sharing this article using the available social media buttons. Subscribe via email for automatic notification of new posts and the continuation of this series.

Thank you.

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I journeyed from GED to a PhD in Psychology. I decided to focus on my writing once I retired from the clinical field. I write in various genres and have several WIPs for publication once edited. I post articles on this website for intellectual and entertainment purposes.

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