“You should never have to look for evidence that someone loves you. True love is crystal clear.”
~ Mandy Hale
We’re born equipped to notice.
But sometimes we blindfold ourselves….for fear of being alone or angering someone, or out of hopelessness that conflicts could be resolved.
So consider this: Just because you notice a partner’s flaws…… doesn’t mean you have to break up with him.
It means you see him as a whole person. It means you’re growing up. It means you have the potential to cultivate a nourishing relationship.
When you see the rainbow of your partner’s behaviors, you get information.
Information imparts awareness. And awareness allows you options for working it out, asking for help, accepting imperfection, or walking away.
So, what should I notice? Watch and listen for:
- His ability to accept feedback about his behavior or your feelings
- His ability to apologize and reflect upon his actions
- His sobriety and legal history
- His reputation with other people
- His willingness to reach out for help when he’s in crisis
- His relationship history: number and types of breakups, etc.
- His listening skills
- His empathy and/or compassion for the feelings of others
- Your shifts in mood when you’re around him
- Your shifts in self confidence
- Your sense of hope and creative energy as the relationship unfolds
- Your ability to maintain all kinds of other friendships, in addition to this one
Notice that items 9 through 12 are about you.
Life-sustaining love makes you smarter and feeds your friendships with positive energy. It makes you feel better about yourself because someone you love is paying attention to what you say – and your words matter to them.
Life-sustaining love gives you conflict AND hope: you feel every feeling (including anger), but find ways to work it out. Life-sustaining love requires both partners to be awake, sober, and emotionally present.
On the other hand, if you feel yourself slipping into a dark place, you may be in a relationship that will not sustain you……at least in its present form. You need help.
It goes without saying that verbal or physical abuse signals deep-seated issues that require professional attention. But even subtler forms of manipulation or lack of mutual empathy make for a lonely situation in the long run.
Ask for what you need and then watch for his response.
Ask for couples therapy. State your feelings clearly and wait. But above all, take off the blindfold and see what’s there.
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
The whole purpose of dating is to find out about your partner.
Ideally it’s a gradual process that takes some time. I want to emphasize the “time” part. Jumping into a relationship is fraught with peril.
In the beginning, there is usually a physical attraction that overpowers our thinking brain.
It’s a wonderful experience, that heady, romantic, sexually powerful feeling that engulfs you when you first meet someone. It should be savored and enjoyed. Just don’t make any big decisions. Your thinking brain is on holiday; it will take about six months for it to start the return journey (and it still might take a while for it to recover from jet-lag!).
While critical thinking is impaired in that first six months, it does return. The problem is that we usually don’t want to pay attention to it. It’s a downer.
It’s a serious mistake to move into denial. It prolongs the evaluation process and precludes addressing issues that might be fixable. While everybody has flaws, it’s important to let yourself really acknowledge them because some things you can live with and some you can’t. Maybe you can live with someone who’s messy, but you can’t and shouldn’t live with someone you can’t trust.
Being able to assess your partner ultimately comes down to how well you know and value yourself.
In the therapy world there is a saying that goes, “Like levels of differentiation attract”. This means that you will find yourself with someone who is at about at the same level of emotional maturity that you are.
Trust me, this is always true. What a good reason to spend time growing yourself up! The more you work on your own emotional growth, the more likely it is that you will attract someone who is worthy of you.
Lastly, learn how to be alone.
Usually if you are working on yourself you are becoming more independent. You will find yourself actually enjoying your own company. The more independent you are both emotionally and materially, the less likely it is that you will settle for someone who isn’t really a good fit.
Most people don’t want to spend their lives alone, but you need to be able to. We tend to turn a blind eye to danger signals when the fear of being alone overtakes the fear of choosing the wrong partner.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
You’re not sure if the signal you’re receiving are the signal he is sending.
It happens with friends, co-workers, family members, and dates. You’re not a mind reader, and that should never be your goal, not only because you’re bound to fail miserably, but because the expectation that you can intuit everything someone else wants you to know is simply a bad communication strategy for any ongoing relationship.
So how do you know if he’s flirting or not or if he’s serious about what he is telling you? Trust your gut.
You have this wonderful gift of intuition for a reason. If it feels right, there’s a good chance it is. If it feels off, you might want to ask a few questions and explore a little more deeply. There’s no time limit on any of this, so feel free to take your time and be thoughtful and thorough.
People are great at telling us exactly who they are, but we don’t listen to them.
We excuse the many instances of bad behavior that we’ve seen because we really think there’s a good person underneath the hard exterior. We would rather not see things we don’t want to see. So look back on interactions, and you’ll know exactly what you need to know if you allow yourself to be truly honest.
The people around you that you trust can also be great resources. Talk it over with someone you trust.
You might be surprised by how talking it out can help you see another perspective and give you the insight you’re looking for. Just be sure this other person has your best interests at heart.
When all else fails, I’m a big fan of direct communication. Just ask.
If you’re getting signals that are confusing, there may be a perfectly good explanation (possibly that’s what you’re giving back). Ask him about his intentions and see where it goes. You might embarrass yourself, but it might be entirely worth it!
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.com
When we first meet that guy that we are attracted to and want to spend time with, even evolve into a relationship with, there are a few things you might want to know.
When you attracted to someone, you generally don’t pay attention to the red flags that may be flying. It’s not that you don’t see them, you most likely do, you just don’t want to because you are having too much fun.
One piece of advice I do give to female clients is to watch the man’s behavior.
(This goes for men too). People are very good at saying one thing and behaving another. If you notice that someone is not in alignment with what they say and do, that is a red flag.
One way to get good at paying attention to red flags is to be a good listener and pat attention to their body language.
If they seem open and look you in the eye, they are probably genuine and authentic. If you notice that your guy has a short fuse and seems impatient, there is a chance he could be pre-disposed to more violent behavior.
A client of mine met a gentleman she didn’t know well for dinner and while he was impeccably dressed and was attractive, he snapped at the waiter, then proceeded he was in therapy for road rage.
So pay attention and raise your awareness in the very beginning and differentiate a kind gentle man from one who has anger and rage.
An incident like my client had was enough to show her through this man’s behavior that she wanted nothing more to do with him. Some other signs to watch for is his kindness and compassion toward others.
If he displays these traits, chances are he will be that way toward you. If he lacks empathy or seems distant and aloof, you may want to make that your last date.
Notice if your guy blames others or takes responsibility for himself and his actions. And of course, if he seems physically or verbally aggressive, run for the exit.
You can begin to develop this skill of watching the behavior and always tune into your inner guidance system for your inner knowing doesn’t lie and you will get a hunch to see or not to see this guy again.
Constance Clancy, Ed.D. – www.drconstanceclancy.com
Actions speak louder than words.
It is important not to assume or interpret behavior from an idealized perspective. Often we struggle with cognitive dissonance when we want to believe what he is saying while ignoring what he is doing. Base your decisions about the relationship on what is actually happening versus what you want to happen.
Don’t sugarcoat his behavior and ignore the red flags. Ask these important questions
- What is behavior telling you?
- Does what he say match what he does?
- How does he express himself?
- Is there consistency in what he says and does?
- Does he withhold information or misrepresent himself?
- Does he always say the right things and does he always have the right answers?
- When sharing experiences, does he always come out on top?
- Does he seem too perfect?
- What are your expectations and are you trying to apply what you want rather than what you really see?
Check in with yourself and be honest about how invested you are in making a relationship work that might not be right for you.
Take your time and evaluate what you observe from him. Don’t over think it, but be honest about assessing his behavior and how you feel about it.
Remember your boundaries and deal breakers.
Stay in your integrity and maintain your boundaries. If you are violating your own boundaries to accommodate his behavior and this is just the beginning of the relationship, this is the foundation that is being set for future interactions with him.
Remember that another red flag is being rushed into a relationship or commitment.
It is important to ease into a relationship and get to really know each other. Give each other space to breathe and be yourselves. Remember that in the beginning of a relationship, we all put our best self out there.
Remember to look for congruency in what your partner says and does.
- How does he talk about his exes?
- Is he always the victim?
- Does he say he loves animals and then he kicks the dog on his way out?
Do not be afraid to confront the truth about who he really is. It can save you from future heartache and the need to heal from a bad relationship.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
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