“Why do they have to disturb you when I am with you? Can’t they just leave you alone to be with me!?”
Such a seemingly sensitive question, it seemed as though he was trying to protect her. But over time she realised this was less about her, and more about his need to possess her. Possess her time. Possess her attention. Possess her every waking hour.
The seemingly protective questioning soon became an interrogation, which if answered incorrectly led to something akin to emotional punishment for not protecting him from his own thoughts.
I am convinced that some of us have to learn the basic lessons the hard way. Even with having studied psychology right from GCSE to Degree level, the red flags waved in the approaching storm, without me having any real understanding of the warning signs.
When we first enter into a relationship, we look at it through rose-coloured glasses. And because they’re rose-coloured, the red warning flags get toned down. What appears to be something positive, can actually be an indication of something sinister.
So how do we recognise whether something is off-kilter or not? How can we see beyond the charm and pleasantries of a new relationship, without putting the other person in the dock, whilst guarding our hearts?
1. Take a step back. If someone is consuming your time from the off, this isn’t giving you the space to really think, see and process what you’re experiencing. Neither is it allowing the Holy Spirit the opportunity to warn you. So take a step back. It’s ok to not see someone for a few days…. A week… A month! If they make you feel guilty for that, questioning your “commitment” to them right from day one, what will they be like when you marry and want to go out for a friend’s birthday without them?
2. Don’t be afraid to challenge them. If you’re concerned about the level of devotion being poured out toward you, or expected from you, don’t be afraid to speak what’s on your mind. If you feel intimidated, or as though you can’t really say anything because you’re not sure how they’ll respond, or because you want to keep the peace, already you have come under their rule. Yes. Rule. Because you will spend the rest of your relationship trying to keep the peace so as to not affect their mood, without any regard for your own heart.
3. Be real with someone else. You’re not a failure just because you have doubts about someone you’re in a new relationship with. You’re not a bad person if you express those doubts. Even if you do hide them away, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure either. But by voicing your heart’s warnings and concerns to an external friend, this will save you a whole heap of time and heartache and pain in the long run. Especially if they’re the type who pray. If you can’t hear God’s alarm – maybe they will hear it for you. Or they will offer you the reassurance you might need about the new relationship.
4. Guard your heart. If you’ve had difficult relationships in the past, or you’re not fully confident in your own worth as a someone to be in a relationship with, give yourself time to heal. A tough relationship journey leads to baggage we carry with us and try to make the next person hold. Are the concerns you are having based on the other person’s behaviour, or are they from old wounds and heartache you’ve not given yourself time to heal from with God? Again by talking with someone you trust, they can help bring clarity if there are still issues you need to deal with.
Don’t hide from your past, don’t hide from any red flags, don’t bury your head in the sand! Look up, look it straight in the eye and deal with it head on. Whether it’s in you or in the person you’ve just started dating.
You can’t slouch if you have the right cheering squad behind you!