You don’t have to make every relationship work. The whole point of dating is to get to know someone. Whether you’re looking for current companionship or an eventual long-term commitment, dating is an evaluation period. So evaluate.
If an aspect of the relationship makes you uncomfortable, don’t be quick to dismiss it because you’re in serious like. Or because they have the cutest dimples you’ve ever seen. Or because your knees get a little jelly-like when you kiss. Gut reactions and hair rising on the back of the neck is a body’s way of trying to be heard over the noise of a palpitating heart. Listen. It might be trying to alert you to one of the following red flags that it’s time to date elsewhere.
- You’ve broken up and gotten back together more than twice. If you’re working that hard just to keep dating, how hard is it going to be to stay married if you take the next step?
- You are discussing getting counseling. I’m not talking pre-marital counseling as you approach wedlock or individual counseling for issues in your lives. I’m talking about counseling to fix your dating relationship problems. Really? Couldn’t ‘relationship problems’ be an indication that you’re not a good long-term match? But, you may argue, I’ve already invested two years in this relationship. Well, let me ask you this: if for two years you contributed money to an investment account that consistently decreased in value, do you keep adding more money? No – you’re not getting a return on your investment. You stop putting money in the draining account you donated to for two years and find a better place to invest. Your time, your future, your piece of mind are worthy of even more respect than your money.
- Your mate is a victim. The traffic made them late. The boss that fired them is incompetent. They’re on the outs with family members because they’re tired of being taken advantage of. They only argue because you provoke them. Ready for a lifetime of it’s-your-fault? Just stick around.
- It’s all about the physical. The ‘dates’ seldom include dinner and a movie. You are not included in other areas of their life and you haven’t met their family members or close friends. Umm, do I really need to elaborate further here?
- Questions are increasing. Where were you? Who were you with? How long were you there? Where else did you go? These common questions could have a valid place in a healthy relationship. However, if you start feeling a little smothered, feeling that you have a third parent to account to, or feeling hair rise on the back of your neck when you are asked these questions yet again, know that the escalation of controlling behavior generally doesn’t reverse itself. Move on before the symptoms turn into disease.
- You become their incentive to get fixed. Problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, or any other type of addiction should be a dating deal-breaker. And yet, you’re in love. You hear yourself utter the ultimatum: “If you don’t get help for your problem with [fill in the vice], I’m going to stop dating you.” NO, NO, NO. You have that backwards. Flip that sentence right around: “I am going to stop dating you. I hope you get help with your problem.”
I’m not saying it’s easy or painless to end a relationship with someone you care about. I’m saying it’s less difficult and less painful to snatch your hand back from the scorch of a candle flame than to avoid being consumed by a forest fire.
Evaluate. Be discerning. Dating is a time of exploration as you head toward a long-term relationship. Each experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. Take all those well-learned lessons and find a fit for you that has no flame-red flags.
What was the warning sign you picked up on that enabled you to avoid making a bad long-term decision? Was there a warning sign that you, unfortunately, missed or ignored? Please comment below.