This is for anyone in an exclusive dating relationship moving toward marriage. Here are three potential red flags. Think about your life with the one you like-like or love and make certain none of these are present. If they are, they need to be addressed. Evaluation now is better than heartbreak later. And beside that—you deserve a great relationship.
- They use the word “forbid” related to things they will or will not allow you to do. A controlling attitude is a serious red flag. It reveals thoughts that your role in the relationship is to serve their preferences and needs. It reveals thoughts of superiority. And it exposes insecurity—control is rooted in fear.
- They do not demonstrate affection for and allegiance to Jesus on days other than Sunday. Do not settle for one who knows the lingo and expected church attendance patterns but does not have a present-tense relationship with Christ. Don’t settle for one whose only stories of faith are from years ago. This is an issue of leadership and management—who is leading them while they are in a relationship with you? What well are they drawing-from as they act and react with you? Are they governed by Scripture? Are they motivated by what honors God? Be on your guard with one who gives only the appearance of living faith because they know it is important to you.
- They require you to do things to prove your love. This includes speaking certain words, being available on their schedule, dressing a certain way, or participating in sexual acts. Love must be unconditional, grounded in trust. A relationship that requires proof of love never allows you to settle into an accepted place—it forces you to continue to earn your place, to keep your place. Is it possible that your role in the relationship has become a string of inauthentic acts aimed at keeping the other person happy? That’s not good. Serving someone is different from appeasing someone.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU NOTICE RED FLAGS:
Talk about it before you bail. Find a time and place to talk privately without interruption. Work hard to avoid exaggerated expressions like “you always” or “you never.” Instead of accusing, start with your observations about the relationship—“Here’s what I am experiencing in the relationship, _______________________________. What are your thoughts?” Eventually, share what you need to adjust or change in the relationship. Note—you must think about what you want and need before the conversation. Don’t be afraid to write them out as notes on paper or on your phone. And be ready to give specific examples of what you have been experiencing—they will ask. If they get loud or upset—do not match their tone of anger. Speak calmly.
Seek wise counsel. Talk with an older Christian man or woman for feedback. Do not gossip in your friend circle. Do not ask his or her friends to weigh-in. This is not a sitcom; this is real life, requiring a grown-up approach. Your friends are wonderful and probably have your back, but consider the wisdom you could receive from a Believer several years down the road from where you are. Learn from their mistakes. Learn from their successes. Do not ask their opinion if in fact you only want them to validate yours. Submit yourself to honest feedback and discern what next steps to take.
Make hard choices. If ending the relationship is the clear best decision, do it. Do it gently and with caring for the other person. Give them a reason and then move on. But do move on. I do not know you or the other person or the details of your situation. But i do know that life is too short. If you are currently with the less-than-best person, then get on with discovering the best person for your own happily-ever-after. You are worthy of a happy relationship with a Christ-centered person who enjoys giving to you as much as they enjoy receiving from you.
What other red flags can you think of? Use the reply space below and let’s help some other people.
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