Like most of you, I have experienced my fair share of joy & laughter as well as pain & suffering when it comes to love. But when the joy & laughter stops and it all comes to an end I’ve often been left wondering, “What was I thinking?!” How did I miss the signs? I know we all do it (men and women alike), but that got me to thinking, would I want my kids to go through what I’ve been through? HELL NO. Not even close. So with that, I’ve decided to make a list of subtle cues we can share with our children as they enter the realm of relationships.
- Does the person you’re interested in make eye contact with you when they speak? If they don’t, they’re hiding something. NOT a good sign.
- Do they have outside interests & hobbies that they regularly participate in? How much time do they spend with that hobby? It’s IMPORTANT for each person to have hobbies in their life, but too much concentration on that hobby, or lack there of any hobbies at all is a definite red flag.
- Does he open the door or pull out the chair for you? Sure it sounds old fashioned and silly, but a guy that does these things for you is SO hard to come by these days and it’s the best feeling ever. You feel valued and cared for. We need to teach our sons the lost art of chivalry.
- How does he/she speak to their parents? A person that speaks respectfully & warmly to their parents is more likely to treat you in the same regard long term. A person that yells at their parents, curses, or hangs up on them is going to treat you the same way eventually.
- What are their spending patterns? Do they charge everything to a credit card, or do they use their debit card? Someone that charges their whims away is likely to create debt for your family long term, so it’s definitely something worth paying attention to.
- How often do they drink alcohol? Do they use recreational drugs? This is a BIG one. Oftentimes a person that drinks a lot or smokes weed will tell you that they don’t do it all the time, but 9 times out of 10, that isn’t true. Being in a relationship with someone with addictions (be it drugs, alcohol, gambling or sex) is BRUTAL and not something you would want your children to suffer through. A person with addictions is ALWAYS going to choose their drug of choice over you and will NEVER be a good partner in a relationship until they seek recovery.
- Do they care what they look like when they know they are going to see you? A person that takes the time to look their best when you’re around is a person that cares about what you think. They want to impress YOU. Someone that doesn’t, really doesn’t consider you a priority. It’s subtle, but something to think about.
- Do they return your calls, texts, IM’s, or emails in a timely manner? Even if your message didn’t contain a question that required a response, a person that cares about you will respond to your communication just to let you know they’ve received it. A person that blows you off does NOT consider you a priority, and in a relationship, your partner should ALWAYS be a priority, not an after thought.
- How does your partner speak to YOU? Do they call you mean names, curse at you, or use harsh words like STUPID, BLIND, CLUELESS, IDIOT, or IGNORANT? Trust me on this one, it doesn’t get any better. All that will happen is you will get SO fed up with the name calling that you will eventually start firing back, and nothing good ever comes of verbal wars.
- Do they ask about YOUR day and pay attention as you respond? A simple practice, but a person that gives you 15 minutes of undivided attention and interaction is a person that loves and respects you.
- Do they initiate contact or communication, or is it always you? An easy sign to overlook, but if you are ALWAYS the person planning your dates, or picking up the phone to say hello, the other person does NOT consider you a priority in their life.
- Can they hold a job? It’s one thing when a person loses a job due to company cut backs, but another when a person is let go due to their interactions with others. It WILL carry over to the way they treat you as well.
- Have they ever attempted to physically harm you? Sometimes it can be subtle, but if they throw things at you (or even just in your general direction), slam your laptop down on your hands, or squeeze your hands too tightly, you need to RUN. A person that is aggressive physically is likely to escalate their behaviors at some point, and you don’t want to be there when it does. A person like that needs anger management and no matter how much you love them, it won’t change their behaviors.
These are really just the tip of the iceberg, as there are so many nuances in relationships we need to educate our children about, but at least it’s a start. I would like to think that my journeys and lessons in love and life can serve as way to break the cycle for the next generation, rather than allowing it to rinse, lather, repeat. I know my choices in love have been in part due to my own dysfunctional patterns, but I do believe that recognizing them, voicing them and learning from them will serve as a road map for my own relationships, as well as for my children’s future relationships. Education is the key.