One of my latest guilty pleasures is watching the television show Being Mary Jane. If you are not familiar with the show allow me to give you a brief synopsis:
“The show is about a character named Mary Jane Paul (played by Gabrielle Union) who is beautiful, successful and well educated. She is the host of a popular news style daytime show on a CNN like network called SNC. Extremely good at what she does and very personable, Mary Jane seems to have it all. However, despite the trappings of a well-heeled life, she is looking for love in all the wrong places.”
How many of us can relate? We want so much to be loved that we settle for less than we know we are worth. Or as I read yesterday, ‘we remove jewels from our crown to make it easier for the man.’ But praise God we have been healed and have returned to our rightful position as the Queens we are and expecting nothing less than a King. But while we are waiting for our King and navigating through the dating scene, we must also be careful of the red flags. Red flags are the warning signs that are exhibited while dating that we sometimes ignore. Some red flags that I have experienced while dating are, (1) I could never go to his house; (2) Every time we spoke the conversation centered on sex; or (3) He can only be reached by phone during the day. These are red flags that signaled to me that something was afoot and to run in the other direction…quickly!
Red flags can appear early on while dating (as in the three personal examples I gave) or they can become more apparent the longer the relationship goes on. We see all of the amazing qualities this person has but there can also be some less than desirable traits that they possess which leave us unsure. When we first begin a new relationship we are excited about it! Our new beau gives us goose bumps and leaves our heart fluttering. Every moment with them is like a beautiful summer day and they can do absolutely no wrong in our eyes. It is at this very moment that it is so easy for us to overlook the red flags. We want to be married and this person makes us feel beautiful and special; as though we are the only woman in the world; and even though we are scratching our head over those less than desirable traits, we begin to make excuses for him or filling in those areas that we question with ideas of what we want him to be like. Then one day those excuses we have been making turn into bombs detonating all around us.
So what are some key red flag indicators that we need to be looking for while dating? I’m glad you asked.
- Lack of communication. This is the man that finds it hard to talk about certain issues or has a difficult time expressing how he feels. Difficult conversations cause this type of person to become distant, leaving their partner confused, hurt, and having to deal with the problem on their own. Because this type of person finds communicating tricky, they will often give their partner the silent treatment. I dated a man similar. The ironic thing was that early on in the relationship he expressed that one of the things that bothered him in his previous relationship was the woman’s inability to communicate. But after 4 1/2 years of dating I realize that he had just as much of a problem as he…or he was REALLY the problem.
- Irresponsible, immature, and unpredictable. I think I’ve dated this person before!! Some people have trouble with basic life skills—taking care of themselves, managing their finances and personal space, holding onto a job, and making plans for their life and future. When faced with a seemingly small crisis this type of individual may shut down thus leaving very little time for you. This individual may also be still in the “growing up” stage, which signifies you may not be able to rely on them for anything.
- Lack of trust. Trust or lack thereof is a relationship killer! When a person has a hard time being honest…when they are habitual liars, the relationship is headed for failure. They may not even know why they lie. It’s just like breathing for them. Whatever the reasoning, being lied to blatantly is a no-brainer. You will always feel like something is being hidden from you.
- Significant family and friends don’t like your partner. How many of us have had loved ones tell us they do not like the person we are dating? I have! And how many of us have ignored what they said only to find out that what they said was true? I have!! While I believe that regardless of what well meaning people will say about your new beau, until you are ready to see the signs and walk away, they are just wasting their time. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t take their opinion and put it in your back pocket. Pay attention to what is being said. They only want what is best and often times when we are in a new relationship, hearing criticism about your new beau is often seen as jealousy or people just not wanting to see us happy. But others may see things more clearly from an outsider’s perspective.
- Controlling behavior. At no time is jealousy or a controlling behavior a sign of how much a person loves you. A new partner may attempt to separate you from your family and friends; those who care about you the most. Your new beau may be jealous of the relationship that you have with others and will attempt to control your interaction with them. And in more extreme cases, they make you choose them over other significant relationships in your life. They may even try to control what you wear, where you can go, etc. Beware of all signs of jealousy and a controlling behavior.
- Feeling insecure in the relationship. Feelings of uncertainty, being uncomfortable or anxious in a relationship are a serious red flag. You seek reassurance from your partner that you are on the same proverbial path in the relationship but that reassurance only lasts for a short time. Because of it you find yourself constantly try to prove yourself, doing extra with hopes that he will choose you. This was a HUGE lesson learned for me. I was constantly dealing with feelings of uncertainty. Let me tell you, it is draining! If you have these same feelings ladies, please do yourself a favor and walk away!
- A dark or secretive past. We all have a past. But some things should not be overlooked. Behaviors that are suspicious, illegal and addictive are obvious red flags. Please do not ignore anything that seems strange or makes you feel uncomfortable. God gave us the gift of intuition. Always trust your gut feeling.
- The relationship is built on the need to feel needed. I fell into this trap. I was in a very vulnerable place and I looked to my partner to meet my emotional needs…to fill a void. But what I learned is that only God can do that. Putting that much pressure on a person…especially one who is not capable or ready…is unfair.
- Abusive behavior. Finally, and most importantly, ANY form of abuse is a red flag. Be careful not to make excuse for any type of verbal, emotional, psychological and definitely not physical abuse. Seek help and get out as quickly and safely as possible.
Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” Often times at the end of a relationship we can look back and see the signs–the red flags that we ignored. But by then its too late. We have already wasted time and find ourselves hurt and damaged. But this can all be avoided if we, “Learn to trust what we feel. Our hunch is probably right.”