Red flags in dating, if only people came with a warning label.
First of all you should know something about me…I don’t read instruction manuals. I’ll leave them in the box and not acknowledge their existence. I will pretend they don’t exist until the very end. I wait until my stress level is in the red and I’m ready to return my purchase. Then, and only then, in a moment of desperation, will I pick up the dreaded instruction manual and see my mistake.
If people came with instruction manuals. Mine would be short and easy:
1. Feed her
2. Spend as much time with her as you can
3. Make her laugh
4. Let her cook for you
And my warning label would be in bold letters and bright red. The same red they use for danger.
1. Handle with care; she’s sensitive
Red Flags in dating: People show you who they are
In general, I think that people tell you who they are early on. It’s our job to listen. Of course they are putting their best foot forward as you start dating, but there are signs. We just have to pay attention to them instead of ignoring them.
My story of red flags
My ex-husband and I had a short marriage. Although at the time it felt like a life sentence. We dated for 6 months, rushed into matrimony and both regretted it for three years. We divorced with me holding his debt and his girlfriend pregnant.
Regrettably, it was easy to excuse or push aside niggling doubts while we were dating, but looking back the red flags are clear.
Red Flags in Dating: What I chose to ignore
He was dishonest.
• He called into work sick to watch a football game, and lied to me about it.
• He told me he had taken back a DVD, but it was in his truck.
• He lied about a girl he had slept with in his past.
He was not financially responsible.
• He could not clearly explain why he had bad credit.
• He used my credit card.
• He spent $3,000 in a month and laughed it off. At the time, this was more than his monthly income.
• He asked me to put a truck in my name for him. He could not get a loan with his bad credit.
• He wanted to spend an astronomical amount of money on an engagement ring, but because of his bad credit he
wanted to put it in my name.
He was not a responsible father.
• He never took initiative to spend time with his daughter or take care of her needs.
• He would leave his daughter at his parent’s house on his weekends.
The biggest red flag happened when I asked him to postpone the wedding. We had been together for 6 months, and I was feeling uneasy because I knew we were rushing things. I asked him if we could wait until we had been together a year, and he lost his cool. He said I didn’t want to marry him, and that we should call the whole thing off. I felt really guilty, like I was backing out of the commitment I had made and letting down the man I loved.
My moment of realization
So, we got married, and I cried on my wedding day. Before the ceremony, alone in the bride’s room, in my wedding dress, with my hair perfect and my makeup running. Because the red flags in dating, the instruction manual that I had waited to pay attention to until the last minute, was crystal clear. I was marrying this man who I knew was wrong, and I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I felt like I was too far in, too deep to run, and I thought I could make it work down the road.
Those 3 years of marriage were miserable. He stopped having sex with me almost immediately. He cheated on me from the beginning, but I didn’t know it. Ironically, I didn’t find out until he got someone else pregnant. He hid our mail so I wouldn’t see the past due bills. He got into a ridiculous amount of debt, all in my name. He never spent time with his daughter, and I was alienated from my family and my friends.
However, that is my side; what I experienced. I know there are always 2 sides. I was not a saint. I’m sure I said and did things that were hurtful. I know I was not always supportive or understanding in the way he needed me to be, but that does not excuse the deceit and mishandling of our lives.
Red Flags in dating: Hind sight is always 20/20
Looking back, I can see that I knew it all along. I pushed aside warning after warning to try and make something work that was not meant for me. At that point in my life I did not have enough introspection to understand why I was choosing that path. Now I understand and use my 20/20 vision of the past to avoid the same mistakes in the present.
My take away from the time we had together is to pay attention and don’t make excuses for someone else’s actions. Don’t leave the instruction manual in the box and then reach back in when times are desperate. Look at people’s actions, they reveal a clear picture of who they really are.