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We’ve all heard the age old adage; “if you go looking for something you don't want to find, chances are you’ll find it”. 
It’s true, if you go looking for red flags and deal breakers in a new relationship, you’re almost guaranteed to find one. But, when we’ve been hurt by relationships in the past, it’s difficult to not be extra cautious and/or vigilant when taking that brave step back into the dating game. It's especially hard if the last one ended because of a red flag that went overlooked for longer than it maybe should have. 
So, is it possible to be vigilant without making it your personal mission to hunt out these red flags? 
Well, yes! And here’s how… 

Get clear on your red flags 

Red flags in relationships are warnings that might suggest you are in a controlling or unhealthy relationship. There are some which you should absolutely not ignore, especially if they are appearing at the start of the relationship like; 
A clear lack of trust from either or both sides of the relationship 
Controlling or manipulative behaviour 
A lack of boundaries or respect for the boundaries you’ve put in place 
Feeling like they’re driving a wedge between you and your family or friends 
Any form of abusive behaviour (physical, psychological, emotional…) however small 
But for most relationships, the red flags which pop up are a lot more personal to the individuals involved. It might be that your significant other doesn't share a particular belief or value as you. That they want children when you don't or that they’re not willing to share responsibilities for things evenly. 
Knowing exactly what your red flags are will mean that you don't have to constantly be on the lookout and analysing their every action. 

For every red flag, identify a green flag 

The reticular activating system (or RAS) acts like a filter within our brains. It takes in as much information as it can process and manages and filters this information based on what you focus on. 
If you focus on all the negatives you’re looking to avoid in a relationship, it can quickly become your worst enemy and make you unconsciously attract or notice more people with this profile as it’s only on the lookout for these qualities. 
But, when we start focusing on more of the positives or green flags like ‘I’m looking for someone who values their family as much as I do’ or ‘we share the household responsibilities evenly’ then your RAS can easily become your best friend and help you achieve your goals. 
So, for every red flag you’ve previously identified, write out the opposite quality that you value in a partner. For example, if one of your red flags is that they don't respect your boundaries, the green flag would be ‘they respect the boundaries I put in place in the relationship’. Then use this to create an affirmation that you repeat daily which might be ‘I only attract high valuing, respectful and loving people in my life’ 

Don't brush off your concerns 

Whether it's a gut feeling, a voice in your head or a sixth sense, it's important not to brush these thoughts off as nothing. These are there to protect us, so it's important to acknowledge when this does happen and take the time to; 
a) Figure out whether this concern is valid and based on what you’ve seen, heard and felt. 
b) Identify what triggered this response? 
c) Work out what the next steps are. 
Getting back into the dating game after being hurt can feel scary and is a brave step, so if you ever feel like you’d like some support and guidance to get back on your feet again, get in touch
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