…continued from 2-17-17
So as I was being romanced by God and coming to the point of being happy as a single woman, He said it was time to get online and create a dating profile. Wait…WHAT!?!? Are you crazy? I argued. But over and over during the course of the next couple months, a Christian dating site kept coming up in bits of conversation with random people, until I couldn’t ignore it anymore and finally created my profile. I had very few expectations of actually meeting someone who could satisfy my mile long list of qualifications, but I was still quite nervous. How would I know if they were telling me the truth about themselves? But how do we know if anyone is really telling the truth about who they are?
A couple of years ago, about a year after my divorce, there was a nice guy that started paying me some attention. It became obvious he was interested in me. This was a guy whom everyone at church liked and he had a lot of great qualities, but there was something about the way he interacted with me that felt “off.” I tried to brush off the feeling, telling myself I was just being paranoid and should relax. However, the longer it went on, the more uncomfortable I became, feeling smothered and trapped, even though he never even asked me on a date. Finally, one night after a dinner out with some girlfriends, I sat in the car with my pastor’s wife trying to explain the panic I was beginning to experience, how incredibly uncomfortable this guy made me feel, even to the point of having a nightmare about being pushed into a relationship I wasn’t ready for. As I talked about it, it seemed a little crazy, even to my own ears. She sat patiently listening as I tried to make sense of the situation.
“I just don’t think I’m ready for a relationship yet,” I said as tears streamed down my face. “I don’t know why this is upsetting me so much.”
“Maybe he reminds you of your ex,” she offered.
That hadn’t occurred to me before. He looked nothing like my ex. But the subtle way he communicated, DID remind me of my ex’s controlling and manipulative behavior. Bingo!
“So, is this more me? Am I reading something into the situation that isn’t there?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. But if he’s making you uncomfortable, you are certainly free to say something.”
The thought of talking to him about leaving me alone terrified me. Why? Looking back, I understand now that, for whatever reason, this man did not feel safe to me and all kinds of PTSD trigger alarms were going off.
I looked into the loving eyes of my pastor’s wife and said, “I don’t want to be afraid if there’s no real reason to be afraid. After everything I’ve been through, I don’t want to get into a relationship with the wrong person.”
She nodded, her silence encouraging me to continue.
“It’s just…no matter how well you think you know someone…how do really KNOW them? How do you know they are who they say they are?”
“You don’t.” Her answer was simple, but it knocked the wind out of me. “You have to be willing to trust them and you have to be willing to take that risk. That’s what a relationship is.”
And there it was. I didn’t know if I could ever trust anyone enough to take that risk ever again.
I am in a much different place now. After nearly 2 years in Post Traumatic Stress recovery therapy and being separated and divorced from my ex for almost 4 years, it’s taken a lot of work, but I’m happily engaged to be married to the man of my dreams. And yes, we met on that Christian dating site. But not before I did my homework on recognizing “red flags.”
After a 15 year failed marriage, I was terrified that I wouldn’t see, or would be blinded by love and ignore, the warning signs that I wish I would have recognized before I got married the first time. So, I asked some friends of mine to share with me the red flags they wished they’d seen and paid attention to in previous relationships. Here they are:
#1) Being obsessively sorry for something not that significant (accompanied by a lot of crying) Some emotion in a sensitive guy is one thing, but being overly emotional about everything is more than just being sensitive.
#2) Always talking about himself and how good he is, the things he can do, his winning personality traits, etc. In this case, it’s definitely better he show me who he is than to try and tell me.
#3) Denying the feelings of the children, both his and mine. When his feelings are more important than anyone else’s, there’s a problem.
#4) Overspiritualizing. I want a man of faith, but when EVERYTHING is about God, to the point of becoming an excuse for poor choices, that’s someone who is using “God’s will” as a manipulative tool to control me.
#5) Pushing me into getting married quickly. Anyone who is not willing to wait until I am ready, is not someone I want to be with. No matter how good his reason may seem, like getting married before the new year starts so he can get the tax benefits, if he’s not willing to wait for me to be ready, my feelings on other matters won’t matter much to him either.
#6) Not wanting to invest in the relationship. If he’s not willing to go to PRE-marrital counseling because he doesn’t want to spend the money, that should be an indicator that he’s probably not going to be willing to go when things start getting tough.
#7) “I wish, instead of wanting to come in and ‘save’ him from his pain and anguish he supposedly went through with his ex, I would have actually listened to what he was saying, how pathetic it was, and ran as far away from him as I could. I had always heard to watch how a man talks about his ex, it says a lot about him. I wish I would have seen all of that as the manipulation it was, instead of thinking he was hurting and needed me. I spent literally hours talking to him about what she had put him through and how damaged he was. Instead of taking hours getting to know me, or even asking how I was doing, we were going over and over his ‘past abuse.’ I’m sure he told his new wife the same things about me that I heard about his first wife.”
I sincerely pray that you will grow to trust again, first in your relationship with God, and then with people. I pray that you will be free from the fear of being hurt, and that you will be able to wisely and safely take the risk of believing a person who is worthy to be believed by you, is who they say they are.
Below is link to an article about other red flags to look out for.