7 warning signs your new relationship is filled with red flags

If you haven’t seen Season 2 of Dr. Death or Season 1 of Bad Surgeon yet, you’ve been warned:

Spoiler alert incoming. 

Both these shows zoom in on Dr Paolo Macchiarini, a surgeon accused of multiple medical malpractice cases.

So what does this have to do with new relationships and red flags?

Thing is, they’re more than just real-crime TV series that make you think twice about seeing doctors.

They also compel you to have second thoughts about rushing into love.

On that note, let’s uncover the warning signs your new relationship is filled with red flags, inspired by Dr Macchiarini’s love story with Benita Alexander, the NBC journalist assigned to do a special documentary on him:

Love bombing

“It was romance overdrive, and it was the beginning of him sweeping me off my feet. I mean, really sweeping me off my feet”.

This was precisely how Benita described Dr Macchiarini’s over-the-top gestures during the first few months of their relationship.

First, he was sending tons of gushing text and video messages.

And then it quickly escalated to grandiose out-of-town trips – their first one no less than Venice, one of the most romantic cities in the world.

But while all of these paint a picture of the perfect start to a relationship, here are a few things to be mindful about:

1) Love bombing in the digital age

If your partner keeps blowing up your phone with messages, this could be a warning sign of their anxious attachment style.

Their excessive texts, calls, and voicemails may be their attempt at constantly reassuring themselves of your presence in their life.

If this flooding of affection suffocates you, have an open and honest conversation with your partner about it.

Tell them your comfort levels regarding the frequency of messages (and actions).

If they meet this with understanding and adjust their ways moving forward, you probably have a green flag after all.

But if your honesty is met with hostility, that right there, is a glaring red flag.

2) Love bombing through outrageous gift-giving

Some people use grandeur to make their partners feel indebted to them.

Love bombing, in this context, is their way of gaining control. 

So, if you’re on the receiving end of lavish gifts, use your instincts and your observation to weed out their true motives.

Ask yourself:

Are they just extremely generous, or are they expecting something in return for these big romantic gestures?

Remember also that real love doesn’t rush.

So in addition to coming without strings attached, if the extravagant gifts come at a slow and steady pace, you’re likely onto something real.

Living the double life

Bad Surgeon Love Bombing 7 warning signs your new relationship is filled with red flags

In Bad Surgeon, Benita recalls how Dr Macchiani spoke six different languages. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, right?

I mean, if you think about it, being multilingual just adds to one’s appeal.

But here’s the kicker:

She also said he had six phones!

Sure, I get it – some people have separate phones for personal and work use, but who needs six?!

Benita had the same thoughts, but she was blinded by love. Her surgeon lover told her he needed all those for work, and she fell for it.

Later in the series, it would be revealed that each phone corresponded to each of the personas he was portraying in his multiple lives.

If your partner only has one phone, hold that sigh of relief.

There are other warning signs of someone living the double life, and I’ll list a few of them below:

3) They have a selective social media presence

Let’s get one thing straight: some people are really not into social media. Thus, they have little to no presence at all in the online world.

But it’s a potential red flag if your partner is:

  • reluctant to add you on their socials, or
  • refusing to  be tagged on your posts, or
  • restricting you from posting your photos together, or
  • restricting you from adding their friends and family to your socials,
  • showing discrepancies between what they post online and their life offline.

I remember one of our friends had an ex who had no photos on social media, including their profile picture (not unusual). He also used his nickname and not his full name under this profile (again, not unusual).

What’s unusual is that his friends on the said profile were composed only of our friend’s family and social circle.

We asked him casually about it once, to which he said it was simply because he had no one to add, as most of his friends and family aren’t on social media.

Eventually, we discovered that:

  • a) he was married, and
  • b) his “nickname” was not even his real nickname, and
  • c) his supposed real name that we know of is not his actual real name.

The moral of the story: talk to your partner about your concerns and use a combination of logic and gut feeling to suss their story out.

Don’t let your head-over-heels feelings cloud your judgment and rationality.

4) They don’t want you to meet their inner circle

It’s one thing to not be connected with their friends online, but if you’ve never met any of their friends or colleagues, get your alarm bells ringing.

Of course, it’s normal in new relationships to not meet everyone at once, so if it’s only been a month or two, those alarms can wait.

But if your new relationship is getting to the one-year mark and you’re yet to meet anyone in their circle, this newfound love may be living another life you’re not privy to.

5) Their stories about their lives are vague or very contradictory

If your partner’s recollection of their history don’t seem to add up, it’s worth flagging and looking into.

For all you know, they might be fabricating stories about their past just to cover up their double life.

Here’s a trick:

Ask them open-ended questions from time to time about their life or their past.

If their narratives change each time, they’re definitely hiding something from you.

6) They will go to lengths to assert control

Bad Surgeon taking control 7 warning signs your new relationship is filled with red flags

According to psychology experts, creating and altering narratives are just some of the manipulator’s tactics when things aren’t going their way.

They apparently do this and whatever is necessary to hold onto their power and make sure they come out looking like the hero.

This brings me back to our bad surgeon’s scammy love story:

At some point, the couple’s wedding plans came to a halt when they learned that a Catholic wedding wouldn’t be possible because Benita was both Episcopalian and a divorcee.

Not one to miss out on a knight-in-shining-armor moment, Macchiarini insisted that he can fix things.

And he did (or so everyone thought).

He came back telling everyone that the wedding would take place at The Pope’s summer residence, and would be officiated by none other than His Holiness, Pope Francis himself.

He also wasn’t shy about revealing details, such as Andrea Bocelli singing for the service, and 3-Michelin Star Enoteca Pinchiorri catering for the event.

And he didn’t end there.

He went on about the wedding guest list that apparently included the Obamas, Kofi Anan, the Clintons, Elton John, Russell Crowe, and so much more.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, because it is.

It turns out nothing was even ready for the wedding – no venue, no catering, no Pope, no honeymoon booking. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

One of Benita’s friends discovered this bombshell, and guess what?

Our lovestruck journalist initially refused to believe it.

When asked about it years later, here’s her explanation:

“I just didn’t want to put two and two together. I didn’t want Paolo to not be the man I believed him to be. I didn’t want the fairy tale to end.”

When asked in the same interview why she fell for his lies in the first place, she said something to this effect:

“This wasn’t a random person but a respected surgeon admired globally. The idea of him fabricating everything seemed absurd. Why would he jeopardize his standing by lying, especially to someone he clearly loved?”

7) Accountability and apologies are not in their vocabulary

One would think that the right thing to do when caught in your web of lies is to own up to it and make amends, right?

But Machiarrini did nothing close to that.

Even after being exposed as a con man – professionally and personally – he never owned up to his mistakes, let alone apologize to the people he has wronged.

They may not hurt or lie to you as much as this doctor did, but if your partner never apologizes after disagreements and if they always place the blame on you, consider them a walking red flag.

Be careful not to let this slide during the early phases of your relationship because it could turn into a toxic cycle of emotional exhaustion.

You could end up constantly needing to defend yourself, which will eventually drain your energy and spirit.

Love can make the smartest of us act foolishly.

Let’s end with a recap:

Benita Alexander, who graduated magna cum laude in journalism and went on to become an award-winning journalist, missed all the red flags.

Worse, she belonged to a profession known for their skepticism and excellence at verifying facts.

Yet despite all this, she still ended up being conned – all because she made the mistake of falling in love.

Her story reminds us that no one is immune to the blinding effects of love.

It serves as a warning to not allow ourselves to be completely carried away by the magical feeling we get, especially with a new found romance.

It encourages us to keep a healthy balance between emotion and logic, to keep the flame of love from burning us.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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