Friday, June 14, 2013

Boiling Your Bunny: TSFG's Top 5 Relationship Red Flags

After watching this Huffington Post video, Red Flag: Why I Ignored The Red Flags In My Relationship And Got Married Anyway, I started thinking about some of the relationship red flags that I've learned during my nearly nine years as a widower and a single dad.

Clearly, if you ever see the woman in this video, run, don't walk, the opposite direction. Why would someone say, "I do," when she really doesn't. How can any person promise to do something, anything, from walking your dog or watering your plants while you're out of town to committing to "love, cherish, and honor until death do you part" if that person has no intention of keeping the promise? What kind of nutjob would do that?

Anyway, here are The Single Father's Guide Top 5 Relationship Red Flags that I've noticed don't bode well for a healthy, happy, or long term relationship.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
1) "I hope you're not a jealous person, because I can't stand jealous people." You've heard the adage,
"When you point your finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you?" Well, in my experience, when a woman tells a guy that she doesn't like jealous men, she is at a minimum among the top decile on the Jealousy Scale. At the very least, she'll give you an earful if you look at, speak to, or come within a thousand yards of another woman. At worst, you'll come home from work or an outing with kids and, a la Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, find your pet bunny boiling on the stove.

2) "I hate my ex-husband." If she's divorced and she hates her former spouse, dude, what chance to you have? It's sort of like looking at her mother to see what she'll look like in twenty years; it's your own personal relationship time machine. You're glimpsing the future. I understand that two people, after spending significant time together, can grow apart. Sometimes, there's a good reason a relationship ended: alcoholism, abuse, etc. Some relationships just don't work out. That's life. Vitriol, however, is another thing entirely. If she loathes her ex, the guy she promised to love until death parted them, what do thing will happen to you? Bottom line, don't have any babies with her.

3) "I know we've only known each other for five minutes, but I love you. When can we get married?" While I believe in lust at first sight, true love at first sight is something else. In other words, I think that our first level of romantic attraction is physical. We can only love someone else after we truly know a person, and knowing who and what a person really is doesn't happen overnight. There are a lot of reasons, ranging from  perfectly understandable to completely selfish, that a person may want to accelerate the courtship process: a biological clock may be ready to strike twelve, a meal ticket is expiring, revenge against an ex-boyfriend who jilted her, etc. A romantic interest who doesn't hold in high regard the importance of taking the time truly know the other person, most likely, lacks the emotional maturity or the understanding of commitment to make one.

4) "I'm just obsessed with . . . " There certainly isn't anything wrong with having a hobby. Heck, I like to collect first edition fiction and antiques. It's the obsessive and compulsive behavior that tends to be a difficult quality to navigate in a relationship. A tell tale sign of an obsessive partner is serially intense interests which could include exercise, a philosophical doctrine, sex, education, cleanliness, etc. As the obsession with one interest ebbs, that with another flows. A partner who is completely obsessed with you can be flattering and exciting . . . for a while. After the obsession wanes, though, what's left?
Courtesy of Kathie Austin Photography

5) "I'm already married, but I love you." At the risk of being redundant, we're all grown-up's here, right? What two consenting adults to in their spare time is none of my business. Really. While you may not have anything to lose, though, your married partner may. If you, single dad, want to have an affair with a married woman and she is willing, by all means, do your thing. However, if you find yourself something more than physically connected to your tryst, I'm afraid you're probably headed for disaster in one form or another. If that relationship develops, what chance does it have? Your partner, rather than trying to work it out with her spouse, is having an affair with you! What do you think is likely to happen when she has a problem with you?

Look, it's pretty simple. Dating is all about getting to know the person to whom you are attracted. You may be in lust. I, at least, won't judge you for how you handle that. When it comes to long term relationships and commitment, there's more at stake for you and your children. The bottom line is this: know your partner, and I mean really know her, before you say or do something you'll regret.