If you're aware of these issues early on, you can avoid potential problems down the road.
Dating is a time for getting to know each other in an environment of care and respect. It’s a stage when we pay attention to the habits and personality of the other person and we give each other the opportunity to adapt to each other and grow as a couple, so our love can mature and strengthen.
When we’re falling in love, we often see our love interest through rose-colored glasses, and ignore or downplay faults. What we love about the other person so captures our attention that we’re willing to overlook the rest, assuming it will all fall into place.
However, it’s a mistake to take the leap into marriage and start a family thinking that the other person “is going to change” if we do nothing in the face of negative behaviors. Unchecked, they will become habits which can harm or even doom our relationship. Indeed, bad attitudes and behaviors often tend to get worse as time passes if we don’t do anything about them.
It’s vitally important to recognize the warning signs of such behaviors before making a life-long commitment, so you can either opt out or work with the person (if they’re willing) to change these behaviors, possibly with the help of a professional counselor.
Here are some key red flags to watch for:
1Verbal or physical abuse
If the person you’re dating engages in any kind of physical abuse, you need to get out of the relationship, for your own safety. Intentional physical violence of any kind (except in cases of self defense) in a relationship is a line that must not be crossed.
Physical violence aside, if the person you’re dating habitually treats you or other people poorly, it’s always a bad sign. It’s not acceptable for someone to be constantly insulting or degrading other people. In fact, studies show that the effects of verbal aggression can be just as serious as those of physical abuse. In fact, verbal and emotional aggression can affect your mental health; the fact that such wounds aren’t visible doesn’t mean they aren’t real.
2Drug or alcohol abuse
Recreational drugs generally have damaging secondary effects on physical and mental health. This applies to many illegal substances, as well as excessive alcohol consumption. Occasional use is easier to bring to a halt; addiction is a more serious problem.
Addiction is a serious medical condition that requires professional treatment, just like any other medical condition. If the person you’re dating suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, you can support them through treatment and recuperation as long as the person has demonstrated a willingness to get help and persevere in overcoming this problem. If they’re unwilling to seek or continue treatment, you should think twice about the relationship. In any case, don’t make a greater commitment until real recuperation has been achieved.
3Contempt or indifference
Someone who is constantly contradicting you, criticizing you, or rejecting you, can have a strong negative impact on your self-esteem and your emotional health in general. Even if there is no shouting or physical violence, it’s wrong for someone to make you feel worthless or unimportant.
These toxic attitudes often start to manifest themselves simply as jokes, but if you don’t take action, this behavior will get worse, and you will find yourself being criticized, blamed, disrespected and dismissed more and more.
4A lack of empathy and self-sacrifice
If the person who says they love you isn’t capable of understanding your needs and making sacrifices to support you to the same extent you do it for them, it will be very difficult for you to share a life together. For example, if you have children, will you both be able to make sacrifices for the good of the family?
An ability to sacrifice yourself for others when times get tough is vital for a good relationship. It’s not healthy if someone neglects other people’s feelings and needs and only focuses on their own plans and desires. People can learn to empathize more and sacrifice themselves more for others, but if you don’t see that happening habitually before you make a real commitment, don’t expect to see it afterwards.
Infidelity is one of the most traumatic experiences in life. It causes very deep wounds and destroys trust and unity in a relationship. Fidelity is the foundation of a relationship in which we care for each other and live for each other.
The excessive use of internet pornography has increased the risk of “virtual” infidelity, where someone seeks happiness and sexual satisfaction through a third person. It takes a long time to cure this kind of wound and overcome such a serious betrayal. If you’re dating someone and have agreed you are in a serious, exclusive relationship, and that person is unfaithful to you, be forewarned: they’re showing who they are and what you can expect in the future.
Choosing a husband or a wife is a very serious decision that cannot be taken impulsively and purely based on the emotional high of infatuation. We need to be objective and take some emotional distance so we can analyze the viability and health of the relationship beyond the initial phase of passion. Although the decision is ultimately one taken by the two people involved, it takes prayer, discernment, and listening to the input of people who love us and want what’s best for us. Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions for our own good and the good of the children we hope to have in the future. Steering clear of these red flags can help us make the right choice.