Annmarie, Carrie, Pam, Barb, Jill, Julie, Mary, Lisa, Michelle, Alyce, Brenda, Melissa, Cheryl, Gail, Toni and Shelley.
The above is a list of the women with whom I have been on at least one date in the past 12 months. My goal with presenting this list is not to try and gain praise for my prowess in attracting a date, but as means to show what red flags I have spotted while dating. I currently am not dating anyone and have decided to take an indefinite break from the dating scene.
It is my belief that spotting red flags is is a major aspect of learning to heal, to learning to trust our gut instincts and act on them.
Below are some examples of how I’ve spotted red flags when I’ve been dating:
On a whim, I joined a matchmaking service. They have matched me 7 times. They were so happy to get a ‘decent guy with a job’ in their system that they waived the fee. Normally they charge $5000 for 12 matches. (As an aside: I later wondered what type of people would pay that much in order to meet ‘good’ people?) When I signed up for the matchmaking service, they had me take a slew of personality tests. The results were interesting. The lady at the service told me that I was “often too nice, and that’s where I get into trouble” based on my personality tests. How true.
The matchmaking service has been a GREAT way to try out my ability to spot red flags ->
Match #1 lasted 1 date. I sent her a link to my band website and she first responded with “Who are all these women in these pictures and who is taking all these pictures??” Umm… hello Ms. Possessiveness. Red Flag.
Match #2 lasted 1 date. She was computer illiterate and didn’t like to drive her car very far from home. She was so insecure that she was texting me from the parking lot of the restaurant we met at because she was afraid to come in. She had a total opposite work schedule from mine. It was never going to work
Match #3 made it 3 dates. We had a lot in common and got along marvelously. After the 3rd date I invited her over for a glass of wine. I was giving her the tour of my house and she told me “Your closets aren’t big enough. When we move in together we will have to get a bigger place” – umm, I didn’t know this was an issue? Red Flag. Then two days later she told me she wanted us to go to Vegas and get married. Oh boy!
Match #4 Iasted about 2 months. We went on about 7 dates. She has 3 at home children from a prior relationship ages 7,12 and 15. Her exH has EVERY trait of NPD. That’s a lot of baggage to take on: 3 kids and an NPD ex. I never met any of her children or her ex. I wanted to see if we had real potential in my mind before introducing kids into the relationship. I asked her if she had ever researched NPD. Her answer: no. I told her I thought it would be a good idea and help with her understanding of her ex. She would complain to me about her ex, and I would tell her exactly why he would do what he did. She once told me “It’s like you’ve already met him”. I may not have met him, but I had often met his ‘twin sister’. We have very opposite schedules and it was nearly impossible for us to get together for more than a few hours here and there every week. I let things roll for a while to see where they might go, although my gut was telling me it would never work. Then she told me that she “never wanted to hear a man apologize to her again” and it was “like fingernails on a chalkboard” when a man would apologize to her. Red flag. Serious unresolved issues from her NPD ex. I’m not going to get involved with a woman where I am unable to make a mistake and apologize.
Match #5 lasted 1 date. She told me I was “too nice” and that she wasn’t interested. Almost made me laugh, really. So she’s a very attractive, successful woman who’s somehow single in her early 40’s? Hmm… obviously dating the “not so nice” guys hasn’t worked out all that well
Match #6 lasted 3 dates. She showed many signs of Borderline behavior during our time together, with a lot of push / pull (come here / go away). We had a ton in common when it came to interests, etc, and it’s really too bad, honestly. Our first date went amazingly well. Too well, really (pull or abandonment). Our next date 4 days later was very weird, like she was trying to find reasons not to like me the entire time. Then 3 days later she calls me up and tells me she “just wants to be friends” (push or engulfment). OK, that’s fine. Then about 3 days after that she texts me that she misses me. 2 days after that she texts me that she has “fond memories of being in my arms” (abandonment). Seeing Red. We go on another date. During the date I quiz her on her push pull behavior without exactly saying those words. She seems extremely agitated by the entire conversation (engulfment). 2 days later she sends me a text that she no longer wants to be friends. I responded with an “OK” and told myself we were done. 4 days later I get another text from her asking me how I’m doing (abandonment). I didn’t respond. The last thing I want to do is to jump on the BPD roller coaster again!
Match #7 didn’t make it past the second phone call. On the first phone call she treated me like I was dumb because she felt I wasn’t picking up on her cues. At the time I had some critical business to handle with exW #2 and needed some time to work through it, so I told her it might be a bit till we could meet. Truthfully, my mind wasn’t at a point where I was ready to go on a first date right now (somehow dealing with exW#2 made dating seem much less attractive at the time – go figure). She insisted that we see each other within the next week or we “might as well forget about it”. Red Flag. I told her if that’s how she felt, it’s best that we don’t see each other at all. The next day she calls me from her treadmill on her bluetooth. I can hardly hear a word she’s saying. She made sure to tell me about how much she exercises, etc, all the while nearly breathless from running on her treadmill. I told her I was not interested in meeting her. The next day she sends me a text asking for a Harley ride. So many N red flags there it’s incredible.
Every time I spot red flags and heed them I learn to better trust myself and trust my gut. I may be overly sensitive right now, but that’s OK. It will keep me from ending up in another untenable relationship.
It’s experiences like these that have helped me to build trust in myself that I am capable of spotting the red flags and capable of keeping myself from getting entangled in another dysfunctional situation. I think one of the major keys is to be able to trust ourselves and our instincts. If we see red flags, what does our gut tell us? Does our gut tell us that, based on our experience with this person, the red flag that’s flying is a serious issue or is it just him / her having a bad day and they truly don’t mean to behave that way? Another behavior I had to learn was to confront bad behavior when I was exposed to it. I often would never do this, and let my abusers get away with bad behavior because I did not hold them accountable. When we confront the behavior, how does he / she respond? Does he / she say “tough, it’s who I am, take it or leave it”? Do they attempt to minimize the issue and rewrite our perceptions? Do they gaslight and pretend it never happened? Do they lie? Or do they own the behavior, offer a reasonable explanation, and / or apologize? I feel that their response to being confronted regarding their behavior is one of the most indicative signs of someone who could be an abuser.
I’m by no means an expert in relationships, but I have found an ability to spot red flags and heed them, which is something I never really had before. I would always overlook the bad behavior and focus on the scraps of good in my partner. It’s how I was trained to interact by my family. I’ve since learned to look at the whole picture and remain more objective initially in a relationship before I become overly invested emotionally.
And so far my new approach has been working.