Even though we're often surprised by the unexpected, and even though there isn't really such a thing as "The One," I do believe that there is such a thing as the wrong one.
There are red flags.
There are warning signs, things that should tip you off that maybe this person isn't right for you.
First and foremost, dating someone who isn't the same faith as you are, that's a big red flag. Your values will be different than his, your background and history and priorities and understanding of some fundamentals will be different. And trust me, it causes problems. Red flag.
Our friends are often the reflections of ourselves. If his friends don't like you, it's a warning sign that he may be acting differently around you- that he's not being true to himself. And if your friends don't like him, find out why. If it's something superficial (he stepped on her toes in third grade and didn't apologize), that's one thing- but if it's something bigger, be open and receptive to what your friend has to say.
You decide how you allow yourself to be treated in a relationship. If he makes you feel bad about yourself, even in the guise of teasing or joking around, tell him. And don't tolerate it. You are a beautiful person on the outside and the inside, and you are a child of the Most High God. You deserve respect and to be treated with kindness.
... including his parents or your parents. Disrespect for authority shows immaturity, defiance, arrogance, and trouble submitting to God. None of those things are healthy in a relationship. Down the road, if you marry him, chances are that he'll start seeing you as some sort of authority figure and resent you, or he'll just act like a spoiled child. Going against "the man" might seem cool or socially informed or whatever, but it's a sign that there are underlying issues here.
We've talked about this already a bit- but seriously. Not being yourself around this guy is a red flag. It signals that you're not really meshing well- your personalities or senses of humor or conversational styles just don't match up. That's okay. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, or with him. But it does mean that pursuing this relationship probably isn't a great thing. You should be a better, more true version of yourself when you're with this person- but you shouldn't change into someone you're not.
And, of course, if he's violent, abusive, emotionally damaging, if he yells at you or hurts you, if he tries to violate the boundaries you've determined for yourself, stay away. I wish that it didn't need to be said, but unfortunately, we still live in a fallen world, and it happens. Don't think that it won't happen to you- be prepared, and get help if you need it.
I'm all for giving people chances- my life is one big huge second chance- but I also believe in guarding our hearts, in protecting ourselves. Here's the thing- you have to decide these things for yourself.
Maybe you see a red flag, but you're going to proceed. That's up to you and God. But I know that had I gotten some better advice as a young woman (or actually taken some of the advice I was given!), I could have avoided lots of experiences that took a long time to recover from.
What do you consider to be a Relationship Red Flag?
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This post is part of a series on Christian Singleness and Dating.