Why is it that we can see the signs early on with a partner, and even feel it in our gut, and yet we ignore them? Whether they demonstrate bad behavior, treat us poorly, or perhaps something just doesn’t feel right even though they seem pretty perfect – we need to pay attention.
Not only that, but I think it would make sense to say that the sooner you can get out of the relationship when you feel or see these signs, the better. The more emotionally invested we are, the more we tend to overlook these things we should NOT be overlooking.
I Knew the First Night
With my marriage, I really knew the first night that he wasn’t the guy for me. He talked about himself the whole night, he was very dramatic and obviously liked attention, and he never asked me any questions. It was all about him.
But I was in a desperate place, so I ignored the signs. And besides, everyone else thought he was great! Impressive, charming, outgoing – he seemed awesome to them, so other people ‘sold’ me on him. Even when he started to be mean to me when we were alone, I continued to convince myself that I was making a good decision.
The Stink of Desperation
After my marriage I followed other ‘desperate’ dating trends. I dated a few different guys who people warned me about (one clearly had drinking problems, another was just totally self-absorbed). But did I listen? No. I thought I could ‘fix’ them, change them, create the perfect relationship. Is that possible? No. Don’t ever fool yourself into believing it. I should have listened.
Getting and Staying Out
Things you need to do to both keep and get yourself out of bad relationships:
- Listen not just what they say, but also watch their actions. They may be saying everything you want them to, and then flirting with waitstaff and saying some of the same sweet things to them when you are out to dinner. Or perhaps you notice that they can get hostile or quickly reactive with people. Or maybe they treat people who they feel are ‘beneath’ them disrespectfully. Their actions are as important, if not more important, than what they say. Don’t brush over these things or make excuses for them.
- When on your first date(s), pay close attention to how the conversation goes. Do they spend the whole time talking about themselves? Or do they spend equal time discussing you? And do they ask you questions to show genuine interest in your interests? Are they just trying to kiss up and throw you compliments, or are you having a deeper conversation about your passions and interests in life? Take moments to check in on this during the date – step away for a few minutes if you need to and think about it.
- Don’t get caught up in physical attraction.I’ve had some very attractive men ‘pull the wool over my eyes’ in many cases over the years, because they know they can get just about any woman and they use it to their advantage. While not all attractive men are like this, be cautious and aware. ‘Winning’ the most attractive or popular guy (or girl) in the room is not always a win. Find the person who is amazing in ALL ways and will treat you like the gem that you are.
- If you have a bad feeling about something, listen to that feeling. We often ignore our gut feelings. We talk ourselves out of it. Say it’s just our imagination. Sometimes we just don’t want to know. But the reality is, if you don’t listen to your feelings, they will get louder – and the proof will all be there soon enough. So trust your gut.
- Don’t let anyone talk you into staying when you know you shouldn’t. Whether it’s the person you are dating (or married to), or friends who think that person is awesome, you shouldn’t stay in it if it’s not right. Or for that matter if you know things about the person that they don’t. My ex was really charming to everyone, but treated me like crap when they weren’t around. Only you know what they are really like – so do what you need to do for YOU.
- Don’t take one minute of abuse. Whether it’s verbally picking at you or outright physical abuse, don’t tolerate a minute of it. A real, healthy relationship consists of two people who love each other unconditionally, respect each other and give each other space and independence, and are each other’s greatest supporter. They should be your best friend and the first person you want to share things with, not your greatest enemy or someone you fear. Why would you torture yourself that way?
- If people warn you about them, listen. I’ve seen people get ‘protective’ about their partner when it’s not justified. The facts all point to huge issues. People close to them who clearly love them are trying to help them and get them out of an unsafe or unhealthy relationship, and that person just pushes back and won’t listen. They just don’t want to see it or accept it, or perhaps accept that they were wrong about them. I don’t care if you’re a total rebel, this is NOT the time for it. Listen, let it sink in, accept that you may be wrong about this person – it’s ok to have been wrong. But don’t waste any more time in it. Let them help you.
- It doesn’t have to be physically abusive to be an unhealthy relationship. If you are with a narcissist for example, they will subtly manipulate you, blame you even, but they will mess with your confidence and ability to trust in your own judgement. There are many very smart people out there who are good at pretending to care about you, but then using you for their own means. Be cautious and aware, and observant of the relationships you may already be in. Some people will beat you down in a non-physical way to the point that you feel unworthy of a better life or anyone who treats you right. If you get into a relationship like this, get out – or seek help to raise your confidence enough to get out. It’s a deep dark hole that you will continue to descend into if you don’t.
Love Yourself First
Personally, I’ve seen a lot of this crap. We all have really. Been there, done that. I’m just not tolerating it any more. And neither should you. Let the people with these issues find each other! Haha! Seriously though. Please take care of yourself. Know that it’s better to be alone than with the wrong person.
Don’t let loneliness get the best of you, or a fear of being alone. Find friends and a support network for those times you feel lonely. Otherwise I think you will find that time spent alone can be confidence building. Because once you realize that you’re not only fine by yourself, but downright peaceful and happy, then you will no longer tolerate a partner who is anything less than wonderful.