Listening To Your Inner Voice and Intuition in Relationships

Intuition Gut Feel Relationships

“We all have this inner voice, and it often whispers things to us, but we don’t listen until it becomes a shout”

Richard Cooper

So many of us get caught up in toxic relationships, jobs or other scenarios that drain us financially and emotionally and leave us miserable and unfulfilled. But when we look back, we often find that the writing was on the wall very early on that things were not going to end very well.

We just simply ignored warning after warning and kept plodding on assuming things were somehow going to improve. We also often spotted signs that something was amiss in their personality or life history, but again we overlooked them in the name of politeness, not wanting to make a fuss, or always assuming the best of people.

Many of us have learnt the hard way the price we can pay for overlooking these signs. Moreover, there is an inner voice or intuition in all of us which does pick up on all these subtle (or obvious) signs that something isn’t right. There are loads of terms for this, like intuition, “that voice inside”, “voice of reason”, “buddy on the shoulder” ,”gut/gut feel” etc.

We all have this voice inside us, but in some of us it is indeed more suppressed and blocked out than others. We may have been gas-lighted and invalidated so much in prior toxic relationships that we no longer trust this inner voice, or there may just in general be too much inner chatter and nonsense in our minds that it gets blocked out or lost in all the distractions and irrelevances we so often fill our minds with.

This article is written to provide some suggestions and resources to help people get back in touch with this inner voice or intuition, or to help more clearly identify and heed it if it is already there instead of ignoring it or rationalizing things away.

In this way, we can hope to help people avoid these toxic relationships and scenarios from the beginning, or get out much sooner before any real damage can be done. Let’s look at some ways to spot and better listen to this inner voice we all have.

Using Our Inner Voice & Intuition To Spot Red Flags

“Trust your gut. If I had trusted my gut feeling on those little abnormalities, those little lies that I knew were a lie but I let slip. The abnormal behavior where I was like ‘aah, this ain’t right’ – trust your gut. If your gut is telling you ‘get out’ then get out”

Borderline personality relationship survivor – see here

One of the first things our inner voice or intuition does for us is to spot red flags in a person’s character. By this, we mean obvious problems, inconsistencies, or warning signs that tell you there may be a problem with a certain person or scenario, and that you may need to slow down, look into things further or ask more questions.

Here are some more obvious things to look out for in people or scenarios:

  • The presence of narcissistic personality traits, like superiority, grandiosity, entitlement, glibness, shallowness, that we overlook.
  • The absence of higher human traits like empathy, maturity, stability, clarity, sympathy, vocation, purpose, awareness of injustice and so on that we ignore.
  • An obsession with power and control in human interactions. This can be obvious or more subtle through a general invasiveness and intrusiveness, digging into your boundaries repeatedly.
  • You start noticing a difference between the facade they have presented to you at first to charm you, and the actual way they behave and treat people. You see the mask starting to slip.
  • Evidence of them “sweet talking” you and telling you what you want to hear, but no real substance or genuineness behind it. If they pretend to be interested in the same things you are, test for their knowledge of it to make sure they are not just acting for you.
  • Related to this, you notice they are verbally interested in you, but you feel they are not actually really present or really listening to you. They are going through the motions of human interaction. They may interrupt a lot, or not let you finish thoughts.
  • A sense the person values not you, but the experiences and stimulation they get when they are around you. This is a huge thing to look for to spot toxic people. See our article on this.
  • There is evidence of a day to day “bumbling” through the world, with no real ability to plan. They don’t have themselves sorted financially or in terms of jobs. They are asking to borrow money or help you with certain bills or expenses.
  • You start noticing discrepancies in things they are telling you – these can be in big things, but also small, seemingly insignificant day to day things. Psychopaths and other toxic personalities constantly lie just for the sake if it, even when they don’t have to. Examples
      • Minor – They may lie about small details of their day. Perhaps they say they went to the bar, when they actually went to the gym. Doesn’t seem major but is a sign of dishonesty.
      • Major – Don’t tell you they’ve been declared bankrupt before or have huge debts that they still haven’t paid off.
      • Major – Pasts criminal convictions, especially for deception related things like fraud and embezzlement, that you stumble on that they have not disclosed.
  • On a broader level, there are unexplained discrepancies or gaps in the past life story they have fed to you. There are details and accounts which are not squaring up. Some examples:
      • They claim they have a super well paid job, yet they are asking to borrow money to tie them over to the next month
      • They say they went to University here, or worked there, yet the dates and timelines don’t match up.
      • Asking you to invest huge amounts of money in a business or venture, without any due diligence and just on their promise and say so that it’s all running well and you’ll get your money back. Especially very soon after you meet someone.
  • They describe all of their past friends, work colleagues and partners as crazy or manipulative, whilst taking no ownership themselves for what part they may have played in relationships breaking down.
  • In relation to this, you are being systematically kept away from anyone from their past, who may reveal a different story.
  • Occasionally, you may actually bump into someone who has known them, and they reveal a very different side to them, or shoot down a nonsense story they have told you as a total fiction.
  • More generally, they are never at fault; it is always the rest of the world that is at fault.
  • Constant drama in the relationship, as opposed to a calmness and straightforwardness that characterizes healthy relationships.
  • See our article on psychopathic companies for more red flags to look out for when first starting out for an organization, to vet whether their culture and workforce is toxic.
  • You check in with yourself and notice your demeanor, personality and mind state have changed for the worse since you became involved with this person, yet you ignore it or rationalize it away. Your body never lies on this, so pay attention to it.
  • You also notice you have been isolated from support systems you used to have, like friends and family, since you met this person.

These are all things that little voice of intuition inside does pick up and alert us about; it is just that we either have a massively dulled sense of our intuition, or we do spot it but choose to ignore it anyway. Can we really then blame anyone else when it all goes sour?

They key in these cases is to learn from our mistake, and pay better attention to our intuition in future. We spot the red flags, but this time, we don’t let them go and instead follow up them with a curiosity.

We start asking questions; if the answers don’t convince us, we ask more questions. If we have doubts about someone, we actively seek out people from their past and ask them questions to see if things square up. If we see major problems, we don’t overlook them; this time, we get out before it’s too late.

Thinking Patterns & Habits To Avoid in Relationships

Here are some common mistakes in thinking and perception that we can also fall into, that leads us to get drawn into relationships and situations that aren’t good for us, or staying in way too long once we are caught up and know something is not right.

  • Ignoring clear evidence the person themself gives us! For example, someone openly tells you there are a bad person, or they cheat on others. We ignore it, assuming they’ll somehow make an exception for us
  • You see someone treating others badly, but we ignore it because they are at least nice with us, for now. Later on down the line, we find we are now the target of their unpleasantness. This can also happen at work with mid/upper level managers.
  • Simplying burying our heads in the sand, blocking clear problems out despite out body and minds tellings us something is off.
  • With more severe and toxic personality types (psychopath, sociopath, narcissist, borderline), ignoring our body, which never lies and will always get irritated when something is off to send us a clear message we need to do something. Never ignore continued anxiety, welling up, anger, irritation or other physiological signs in the body – it is sending us a message.
  • Jumping head first into serious relationships and committments a few weeks after you meet someone – eg. moving in together, co-mingling finances, getting pregnant – before you have had time to properly and thoroughly vet the person’s character over time.
  • “It’ll get better. They’ll change. There’ll be better days down the road somewhere”. Or some similar variant of mindset.
  • A want or need to “fix” and “change” toxic or troubled people.
  • Too forgiving a nature; always willing to give people not just second chances but third, fourth, fifth and twentieth chances, despite them showing no signs of really growing and changing.
  • Constantly making excuses or rationalizations for others, when their behavior towards us and others is simply repeatedly toxic and abnormal.
  • Being too egotistical and open to being charmed, schmoozed and told what we want to hear. People who like having their ego stroked and aren’t self aware of their flaws in this regard are a manipulator’s dream.
  • Being overly agreeable and accommodating to a fault, to the point where we refuse to confront someone on something which is clearly wrong, and continue to tolerate increasingly unacceptable behavior without setting boundaries and fighting back.
  • Related to this, never wanting to make a fuss or a scene to the point where we never do what’s best for us even if it’s uncomfortable for us. That may mean walking out on the first date and ending the nonsense right away!
  • Overlooking serious flaws and toxicity in a person’s character because of some other shallow benefit eg. beauty, great sex, money, “fun times”, ego fulfilment and stroking etc.
  • In general, a kind of magical “Santa Claus” thinking where we see the red flags, but we just magically hope they’ll somehow go away or get better, because everything seemed so great with this person at first.

Resources For Paying Attention To Your Inner Voice and Intuition

Here are some great online experts and resources which are on this same wavelength of getting ahead of heartache, and paying closer attention to signs, clues and that inner voice we all have.

Dr Ramani Durvasula – a fantastic resource on spotting toxic personalities, with strong knowledge of all the major personality disorders. Communicates ideas and information in a down to earth, concise, helpful and validating manner which really helps increase awareness and move the bar for victims of toxic relationships.

      • See her introductory videos on psychopathy here.
      • See here introductory videos on narcissism here.
      • See her videos on borderline personality here.
      • See also her growing library of MedCircle Podcasts for more in depth video series on personality disorders and toxic relationships (premium resource)

Jackson Mackenzie – fantastic author on abusive relationships with personality disordered individuals. His books in our Resources section will help you spot toxic personalities and abusive relationship patterns so you can put a name to what is happening to you and get out sooner.

Before the Trainwreck Video Series – More aimed at men but useful to anyone – A weekly Youtube broadcast (8pm EST Mondays) run by Rich Cooper and Dr Shawn Smith, where they allow viewers to call in specifically to vet for red flags in relationships, jobs and other scenarios. Series was designed specifically to help people make better decisions before “trainwrecks” happen in their lives, hence the title. Constantly emphasizes the importance of paying attention to our intuition and inner voice when looking for red flags. Episode 12 on the Dark Traid Traits is especially informative for men on spotting toxic personalities.

Sam Vaknin Youtube channel – A real expert of all major personality disorders, notably psychopathy and narcissism, with hundreds of videos on identifying toxic people who have entered your life. Strong diagnostic abilities and plenty of example scenarios and stories.

Inner Integration – Excellent Youtube channel by Meredith Miller covering narcissistic abuse in particular. Plenty of great resources and interviews with experts on spotting red flags in relationships.

Portia Nelson on Listening To Your Intuition

We should finish off with a great little poem by Portia Nelson which brilliantly sums up this issue of getting one step ahead of heartache by simply spotting what is happening sooner and getting away before the same nonsense repeats all over again. Eventually, the goal is spot the red flags immediately and simply do not get involved with toxic character types and situations in the first place.

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

Getting in touch with our intuition and voice of reason and learning to spot, and more importantly act on, red flags, can much more quickly get us to the point where we “walk down another street”. Instead of replaying the same dramas over and over again in our lives, we simply spot the warning signs earlier and either don’t get involved, or get out straight away before it can go any further.


I like to draw on my personal experience and research to write and raise awareness about pathological personalities in the modern world

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