There’s a first time for everything and that includes love. The first time they walk home with you. The first time they call you on the phone or ask if you want a ride home on their motorcycle. There’s a first time you put your arms around them to hold on for dear life and when they go faster you hold on tighter. It's all those firsts that can sometimes lead you to love… or it can lead you to an uncomfortable and unpredictable situation.
Navigating New Relationships
Understanding the types of love, knowing how to identify the red flags of romance and taking a serious approach are good measures to take when navigating a new relationship.
Romance and Types of Love
Romance can be defined as the feelings of excitement and mystery associated with love; and to make things a little more interesting, there are eight types of love:
- Agape (love for everyone) Love of mankind or unselfish concern for the welfare of others.
- Philautia (self-love) - love that many have said is required before truly being able to love another.
- Storge (family love) love of parents for their children - strongly linked to long term memories.
- Philia (deep friendship) respectful love of friends and equals.
- Ludus (playful love) flirtatious, it’s not serious, light-hearted.
- Eros (sexual passion) stirs the body and soul that burns hot but overtime fades or can turn into other types of love.
- Pragma (enduring love) love that builds over time with commitment and hard work.
- Mania (obsessive love) occurs when there is an imbalance in the relationship filled with insecurity and jealousy - at times can be scary.
Red Flags Can Apply To All Relationships
Whether or not you are developing a healthy or toxic relationship with someone at work, at school, at the bar or online, there are “red flags' that are clear warning signs that something isn’t right. However, all too often these signs are overlooked when an unsuspecting victim gives the benefit of the doubt to an undeserving perpetrator.
Key indicators or “red flags” can include the following seemingly harmless behaviors.
Moving Too Fast: When a potential friend or lover wants to move too fast in the relationship they may start to demand more of you and your time. Victim survivors can mitigate abuse before it happens by recognizing that a new partner wants a commitment way too soon. They may:
- Pressure you to have sex before you are ready.
- Shower you with compliments or seemingly put you on a pedestal.
- Act extremely jealous or possessive of you.
Over Protective | Over-Reactive: Questionable behaviors may occur when your partner is being overly protective and wanting to know where you are at all times. Warning signs can include when your partner:
Frequently calls, continuously messaging you and/or constantly asking where you are.
Follows you around and/or shows up at your home, school or work without invitation or warning.
Insist on driving you everywhere, or check your car mileage when you return.
Isolation, Teasing (belittling) and Gaslighting: These behaviors can easily be identified when your partner:
- Encourages you to quit school or work, or to stop participating in activities and hobbies.
- Make jokes about you or your culture or put you down for being Native.
- Lose their temper with you or yell at you in private, but stay calm around others.
- Blames their former partners for abuse in previous relationships.
Catfishing: Vague or incomplete profiles can be a sign that they are trying to hide something about themselves or pretend to be someone or something they are not.
Digital Abuse: Sending sexually-explicit photos or messages is a clear indication of not having respect for you. When this happens without your consent, it could be considered a form of sexual harassment. The same can be said when the interested party requests sexually-explicit pictures. Either way, the person does not respect your boundaries.
Digital abuse also includes asking for your device passwords, sharing your private messages and using tracking devices to know your whereabouts which can be done without your consent or knowledge. It may seem like a harmless gesture used to keep track of you “for your safety,” but over time can turn into something a bit more sinister.
Online Dating Tips
Until you establish a level of comfort between you and a potential partner, it is important to maintain your safety and privacy. Be careful not to provide too much personal information about yourself and that includes where you live.
- Instead of using your full name, use a nickname on your dating profile.
- If you are not comfortable saying, “yes” to a meet up, don’t rush it and wait until you feel safe.
- If you do agree to meet up, go to a public area and tell a friend or relative about your plans.
- Bring a friend! Never meet up alone with a stranger or invite them to your place of residence.
- Listen to and trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, if something feels off, call off your date.
- If you are already in a meet up and are feeling unsafe, be sure to have a back up plan in order to call for help.
In summary, the art of romance can be fun and lead to healthy relationships, but when things seem too good to be true, they probably are and your best line of defense is to pay attention to verbal and physical cues that something isn’t right. Listen to your inner voice and trust your instincts.