Understanding Code Red and Amber behaviour in Relationships
Posted Mar 09 2011 2:09pm
There are behaviours and situations that get presented in relationships that signal that you need to opt out or at minimum, slow down and address the situation before proceeding. What I’m about to explain are what typically make you incompatible, or signal a particularly unhealthy relationship or that there are things that you need to address about you.
The chief problem that I come across time and again with people faced with code red behaviour is that we don’t do what we’re supposed to – opt out.
Instead, we analyse the crapola out of it, blame ourselves, minimize the extent of the problem, assume we know better (we don’t), or decide that us and our love make us the exception to the rule. Many of us also see the perfect opportunity to be an emotional airbag or to fix, heal, help – we end up on a pedestal.
Even when confronted with code amber behaviour, we don’t process the information, pause, access what it means to us and the relationship that we have in mind or our vision of the other person. We don’t ask questions, clarify information, or assert boundaries – all things that should happen in an amber situation.
It’s time for you to decide what your line is – when you know the line and your limit, they know the line and the limit, either because they’re not crossing it, or you bounced them out of your life.
Following my original post ‘knowing when to bail – red flags’, I’ve now delved a little further because so many people try to be the exception to the rule and have little or no boundaries. Aside from there now been code red and amber situations, what helps to differentiate between the two or even change the status is context:
If you have previously been involved with the same or similar, or their behaviour is very similar or the same as a parent or authority figure from your childhood, or you actually have the same issue, you must abort mission. No question.
If you have not habitually been involved with someone similar or the same, no family history and whatever the issue is, they state and can show that it’s in the process of being dealt with for at least a few months, it’s a code amber.
If for whatever reason, the situation feels familiar to what has been previously unhealthy relationships, it’s code amber, or if in being involved with them you’re acting without love, care, trust, or respect to yourself, or would need to in order to continue, it’s code red. Some things are a flat out code red and I have marked it with FOCR.
Addicted to something (FOCR) – If you meet someone and they are addicted to something (gambling, sex, alcohol, drugs, etc) and not aware of it and doing something about it, this will impact on your life greatly if you continue. This is an especially dangerous situation for Florence Nightingale’s.
Married Or Attached (FOCR) -The moment that you opt into one of these situations, you communicate the wrong things about yourself. Anybody trying to pursue you while with someone else is shady. Decent people get their house in order – they don’t stock up on an emotional airbag.
Anger and aggression (FOCR) – If they have trouble keeping their anger in check or are physically aggressive, or very intimidating when they want their own way, this is an abort mission.
They play victim (FOCR) – Be careful of anybody that refuses to take any responsibility for their life and blames it on others – Be extra careful of people who when they experience a problem, don’t see their part in it. You will eventually become one of those ‘others’.
Not over the ex – (FOCR) – If they say they’re not over their ex, are recently broken up and hurting, are excessively angry with them (i.e not neutral), are hooking up with them, secretly trying to get back together with them, playing you off against each other, whatever – bow out. Fast.
Controlling – Steer clear of anyone that wants to control you. They start out with small stuff and then bit by bit increase their level of input. Jealousy and possessiveness is control, not love and especially when experienced early on or it increases bit by bit where you feel like you have to justify, explain yourself, and let them keep track of you. If you are unsure of what you’re experiencing, it’s code amber, evaluate the situation, throw some icy water over your feelings and plans, 100% eyes and ears open, and try to have a conversation with them about it. But if this is within days or weeks (certainly within the first 3 months), code red.
Problems with past/childhood – Pasts can be overcome (I have) but if there are issues from their past that impact on their ability to healthily engage, it’s code amber if they’re prepared to go to and stick to therapy, and code red if they’re not prepared to, deny, or play it down, or it’s coupled with other code red and code amber behaviour.
Dodgy attitude towards sex – This is about very different sexual values. If they’re into shady stuff in the bedroom, it’s at the very least a code amber, or depending on the nature of it, a code red. Don’t try and revolutionise the wheel and if you don’t want to have threeways, being watched by your neighbours, beaten etc – opt out.
Irresponsible – irresponsible with life in general – bills, rent, job and borrows money off you? Wants to move in after you’ve known them a wet week? Acts like a recycled teenager? Code amber depending on the level of discomfort. Not being good with money and having a weakness for shoes isn’t a code red but not being good with money and gambling it, their house, or whatever away is.
Sleeping With Others – If you’re OK with being part of a casual ‘relationship’, this is code amber as you still need to proceed with caution and ensure your own emotional and physical safety. If you’re emotionally invested, or think you’re in a relationship, it’s code red.
Nasty and spiteful – Mean spirited people don’t stop being so in a relationship and may attack your self esteem by latching on to what they think are flaws in you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they’ll be this way with everyone else but you. This is code red and it also covers narcissists – while they will charm you and disarm you, when they turn, they turn.
Emotionally Unavailable – This means unavailable for a mutually fulfilling, healthy relationship. Unavailable people give limited relationships because they have limits on what they are able to give. If you don’t see the signs and recognise the disconnect, use this as a code red to check your own availability.
Bulk of communication by text and email etc – These lazy forms of communication are code amber.
If you’re experiencing more than one of these ‘issues’, that’s a code red, especially if you have only recently become involved with them.
These are the key things that you need to be very aware of and set as your limits. Anything else is down to your own boundaries so it’s important to recognise what has made you uncomfortable in the past and why, what your values are, and ensure that actions match words and that what you’re doing is congruent with who you profess to be. If you want to know if you’re in code amber territory due to how you’re feeling, use these questions.
Knowing your limits leaves you free to be available for healthy relationships. Knowing what’s shady keeps you emotionally safe and healthy.