How many times have you started going out with someone new only to discover that the more you know them, the less you like them?
I vividly remember being in that very situation during college. I had started dating a young man in the college group at my church. We had been seeing each other for about two months when I began to notice little things about him that didn’t sit well with me; some red flags were starting to fly.
The final straw came when we were at a party at a friend’s house, competing against other couples in a card game tournament. I inadvertently played the wrong card at a critical moment, and we lost the championship round. Needless to say, I felt horrible. But the worst part came when someone else expressed sympathy to us about losing, and my date replied, “Well, it wouldn’t have been so bad if my partner hadn’t been so stupid!”
Silence fell upon the room as every eye turned toward me. I quietly got up, gathered my jacket and purse, and walked out the front door. Also, needless to say, that was our last date.
Maybe you, too, have questions about the person you’re dating. Or perhaps you have some serious reservations about someone your friend or family member is dating.
Here are some practical, real-life signs you’re with the wrong person:
They blame their ex-boyfriends/girlfriends for all the problems in their past relationships. It’s vital to know about someone’s dating history. Constantly blaming somebody else and never apologizing or taking responsibility is a huge red flag.
They’ve stopped hanging out with their friends, and only want to be with you. This may be a sign of too much dependency.
They frequently say or text things that are hurtful or unkind. Even if they come to you later and say they didn’t mean it, don’t be duped into believing it.
They’ve made dramatic changes in their behavior since dating you. While it’s good to grow as a person, beware of big changes. Many people make drastic changes when they start dating (i.e., they stop partying or start rock climbing because you like to rock climb) only to return to their previous behavior patterns after the honeymoon period wears off.
They give you the silent treatment or withhold affection over small transgressions. That’s a clear sign of manipulation.
They constantly criticize or correct you. This is a sign of disrespect.
They treat your friends poorly or are unwilling to make an effort to build a friendship with them.
They pressure you for sex. That’s not love – that’s clearly self-centered and manipulative.
They frequently get caught telling little white lies. This probably indicates they are dishonest and may not be trustworthy.
They repeatedly struggle with pornography, alcohol, drugs, or any other addictive substance or action. This is a sign that they may have developed a compulsive addiction for which they need professional help.
They belittle you, call you names, yell, or “harmlessly” slap, push, or shove you. These are signs of emotional and physical abuse. This is a “one and done.” If it happens even once, then the relationship must end right then and there.
They are destructive or dangerous. (See above). If they threaten to hurt you or themselves if you ever leave them, it’s time to break up. They are emotionally unhealthy. Run – don’t walk – away.
Your friends and family advise you to break up. One or two friends may not like your date, and you may rightly decide that your friends just don’t know them well enough, but with time they’ll grow to like them. But when it's a clear majority of those closest to you, you should stop and give their concerns real consideration. They may see something you don’t.
Do any of these issues seem familiar to you? While this list is by no means exhaustive, it is a good place to start as you consider your decision to continue your dating relationship or end it. And although ending a destructive, unhealthy relationship may prove difficult, and perhaps even deeply painful at the time, it most certainly will grow to be unhealthier and significantly more painful the longer you remain in it. The wisest option would be to deal with it honestly and quickly. Don’t be afraid to get a support group of friends and family to help you follow through if you need to.
If we can be of help to you or someone you know, or if you have further questions, please feel free to contact us by email or call the CMR office as listed below. We are here to serve you!
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” – Proverbs 12:15
Alisa Grace ('92) serves as the co-director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class called "Christian Perspectives on Marriage and Relationships." While she speaks and blogs regularly on topics such as dating relationships, marriage, and love, she also loves mentoring younger women and newly married couples, speaking at retreats and providing premarital counseling. Alisa and her husband, Chris, have been married over 30 years and have three wonderful children: Drew and his wife Julia, Natalie and her husband Neil, and their unexpected blessing, Caroline.