Red Flags: 10 Relationship No-No's!
Everyone wants love. If you ever meet someone who says they don’t, they are lying to themselves. We were created to love and receive love. We know that God is love and his love is unfailing. The problem is most of us have never spent enough time with God to know what real love is. And, so we go looking for love in all the wrong places. We often substitute our need for love with lust, material things, and twisted concepts of what we think love is. Which leads to a mass of broken people, walking around like damaged goods. And, so the cycle continues as those who have been hurt continue to hurt others all in the pursuit of love.
At the age of 31, I realize I’ve been in some pretty twisted relationships. Losing both my parents by the age of 15 gave me abandonment issues, and so any relationship I was pretty much in, I sought control. My plan was always the best plan because I just figured I knew best. I knew how to manipulate situations to get what I wanted and as I reflect, I don’t even know where I learned that from. When I finally realized how much Christ loved me, my world changed forever. He gave me a foundation in his love which changed my perception of what love was. I learned to give away my desire for control to God and allow him to control. Plus, I realized whenever I had plans they never worked out. When he had plans, they always worked out and for my good.
Looking back, I’ve learned some important lessons and now seek to share them with you. Transparency is our best healer. Your story is never for you, but for you to help someone else. Here are 10 Relationship No-No’s that I wished I had known earlier in life:
1. God is not the center of your relationship.
If you’re dating someone who doesn’t love God, that’s grounds for the immediate pause zone. God is love. God is the sole creator of relationships, his heart for relationships is that we become one over time. And, that can only happen when two people are headed in the same direction. Having God at the center of your heart is important because his love in you enables you to show his love to someone else. When God is not the center, flesh is the center. Flesh is egos and mindsets that are contrary to wholeness of your heart. Although, I’ve heard brilliant love stories where one individual didn’t know God and through the influence of their mate, they came to know his love. But, I must boldly state, that is not everyone’s experience. The best advice I can give is to seek God in the direction of your relationship. If you have perfect peace move forward, if you are hesitant, walk away.
2. You make all the effort.
Naturally, at heart, I am a giver. I am sentimental and love to do things for people that make their heart smile. But, there have been various times, when I have been in a relationship and found myself making all the effort. There is nothing worse than being with someone and feeling unsure that they feel the same way. If you find yourself always doing for someone, helping someone, apologizing first always, or going out of your way for your good deeds to be noticed, something is wrong! If your partner is never able to make time for you, that’s a big red flag. Just think about it! When you like someone, you naturally want to spend time with them, talk to them, and do for them because love makes you give. You can never love and not give freely because giving is a fruit of real love. For example, if you have children or know someone who does, you’ll find that there is nothing a parent wouldn’t do for their child because they are in love with them. Relationships are the same way!
3. You aren’t free to be yourself!
If you find yourself guarded in your own relationship, that’s a red flag. God created us to become one with another for those who desire marriage. But, if you already feel as if you can’t be yourself or you have to be on guard, it may not be the best relationship for you or some real changes may need to be made. When I look back, there’s one relationship I was in where I felt I always had to be perfect. My clothes, my hair, my look, my diction, just everything! It was so stressful being in a relationship like that because I could never just be me. Which is the silliest person, you will ever meet. God wants us to be free in our relationships because in our relationship with him we must be free. Freedom breeds a different kind of love and it’s important to note that hidden things always come out in some way or another.
4. You (or they) aren’t willing to change!
Relationships require work and work requires change. If you or your partner is unwilling to grow together, this relationship may not be for you or it may not be the right time to pursue a relationship. Being in a functional relationship requires “checks and balances”, meaning being honest enough to confront lingering issues and being bold enough to change those issues. Anyone who has been married will tell you that marriage is work, and if you are not willing to put in the work, you definitely aren’t willing to change.
5. You frequently compromise your values.
As Christians, we desire to date without lust or sex involved, not because we are super “holy”, but because sex or the temptation of it can taint a relationship, not to mention it’s not all that great in God’s eyes. God made sex to operate in the safety of marriage. A sexual connection should be the last connection you make with your mate because it is the strongest. It is the bonding of your spirit, mind, and body, which gives access to the other partner. I know many people who got married because the sexual attraction was so strong, only to realize years later that their sexual attraction was the only thing that brought them together. And, in the end, they were left with someone that they didn’t even like. Now, if you have already slipped up and made a sexual connection with someone. No problem! God loves you and can still use every situation for his glory. If it’s a frequent temptation in your relationship, I would advise speaking with a leader you trust and consulting God about your next steps.
6. You don’t have peace in moving forward.
You have no idea how many people say “I knew something was wrong! Why didn’t I listen?” If you are already having uneasiness about your relationship, it may be time to pump the brakes. Although doing this is difficult, it is a necessity to your happiness and destiny. If think there is an issue or concern, take some time to analyze it, and maybe even speak with a trusted friend who has experience in that area. It’s important to get advice from someone who has been there and done that and to ask God what to receive from that conversation. Advice is great, but God’s advice is better. Whenever we seek the opinion of others, we must make sure we consult God first. So, that he can filter the advice we are about to receive. If you don’t have peace in moving forward, trust your gut (the Holy Spirit/Christ in you). Ask God to reveal any important information you may need to know.
7. You (or they) aren’t whole.
Many people jump into relationships with the assumption that two people are coming together to become whole. The truth is that if you are “a half”, nothing and no one will make you whole, but Jesus. God’s plan is that two “whole” people come together and merge into one over time. Why? Because marriage models our relationship with him. When we meet Jesus, we are often broken. Over time, Jesus heals us, restores us, and we abandon our identity to become one with him. This happens in marriage as well, as we walk together, going the same direction, we should grow together becoming reflective of each other. Those who are married will tell you marriage is a mirror. Through your mate, you are reflected and vice-versa. If you aren’t whole and feel broken, don’t go into a relationship assuming someone can heal you or help you. That’s a big responsibility to place on one individual. If you are dealing with someone who is putting that pressure on you, lead them to Christ as their source. Follow Jesus! Become one with him and be prepared to become one with the mate God has for you!
8. You feel rushed or you’re not ready!
Nothing ends worse than a rushed relationship! There’s no need to rush! Take your Time! Time means “Till I’m Mature Enough”. Take all the TIME you need to get to know the person you believe is for you. The ultimate goal in relationships should be marriage, and if you’re not ready be honest with yourself and your partner. Don’t lead someone on in thinking you are ready for a committed relationship when you’re not!
9. You aren’t willing to serve!
A relationship is not solely focused on one person, it is focused on both people. Dating or Marriage is a form of servant-leadership. A servant leader is one who serves and leads. A servant leader understands the importance of serving another individual more than themselves. When we date, both parties have to be willing to serve the other individual. If you find that your relationship focuses solely on one person, that’s a red flag. Relationships are about compromise, which means you won’t always get your way and vice-versa.
10. Your relationship doesn’t put God first!
An idol can be money, things, or even people. Although, we serve others in a relationship, it is important that we don’t idolize them. I’ve seen people put their partner on such high platforms that when they didn’t live up to their expectations, it absolutely crumbled them. Your existence should never be dependent on another person. God and your relationship with God must come first. For, God is the one who gives you the wisdom on how to honor your relationship and keep it healthy. When God is not first, and not at the center, we can get into ourselves, our needs, our wants, our desires, and we can begin to put ourselves at the forefront of our relationship. A relationship is never just about the “me”, it’s about the “we (you, your partner, and God). Together, all three make a strong team, a cord that is unbreakable. I’d like to think of God as the super glue to our relationships. He holds us together, correct us in love, and gives us wisdom on how to change for the better.
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