Today, I was on set for a modeling job and got into conversation with a younger model. She was smart, fiery and beautiful and I took an instant protective instinct with her. As she started telling me about the guy in her life, I immediately heard fire alarms going off in my head. She asked me if she should stay with him and how she would know when someone was the right one. As I started listing off some crucial details I paid close attention to while dating Kris, she kept questioning why each one mattered. It hit me that so many smart and confident young women are in relationships and have no clue that aside from the external basics, there are forgotten qualities to be aware of that should make or break saying, “I do.”
It is with urgency that I share with you the “red flags” that should make it or break it.
1. He makes decisions based on feelings.
Does your boyfriend ever do something hurtful and when confronted he says, “I’m sorry, but I was angry” or “Well, you made me mad!” If so, consider that a huge red flag. If you want to get married, understand that you are looking for someone who should actually handle conflict better than you do. A husband is called to be our spiritual leader and that means he should set an example for us. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger, do not sin.” It is natural to feel emotions, which is why anger itself is not the sin. The way the emotion is handled is what matters. When you get married, you are entrusting your safety and well being to your man. Therefore, it is essential that you see a consistent pattern of doing the right thing even when there is conflict and when he doesn’t feel like it.
2. He holds himself accountable to himself.
Lord have mercy girls, this is big. Your boyfriend is in a stage now where he needs to do at least enough to keep you by his side until potential marriage. Therefore, he will hopefully be on his best behavior. But, is he doing what’s right only to please you? Does he do all those good things and act sweet because it’s easy and feels good now? In 5, 10, 20 years, when faced with marital adversities, you need to know that he is holding his decisions and actions accountable to God’s standards, not his own. You might be saying, “But he’s such a good person, he would never do anything to hurt me.” I was in a relationship before where I thought the same thing. The thing is, you will never have full trust and security when walking down the aisle until you are married to a Holy Spirit filled husband who has an intimate relationship with God.
3. He is a “Bridge Burner.”
One of the things I looked for when dating Kris was his relationships with people, not only presently, but across time and situations. I didn’t commit to being his girlfriend until 3 months in when I went home to Missouri for his family reunion. It was then that I saw how well-respected he was by his family, his old friends from high school and even a new generation of fraternity brothers. He also treated me the exact same way in these different environments as when we are alone. These things demonstrated his solid character and how he had treated people throughout time and circumstances. A bridge burner implies that they do not handle conflict well and probably do not own up to their mistakes with an apology. If you think that he will be any different with you over time, think again. You might be an exception now, but the way he treats his mother and your friends, is eventually how he will treat you.
4. Does not take responsibility for his mistakes.
It is common for humans to have a prideful nature. Being prideful means we always have to be right and of course, never make mistakes. However, this is an incredibly offensive quality that will prove frustratingly damaging in your relationship. It is crucial that you see your man can let down his pride, humble himself and admit when he is wrong. Not just with you, but in general relationships. If you notice your boyfriend is constantly blaming others when something goes wrong and burning relationships…RED FLAG. In a marriage, there is always going to be conflict so it is absolutely CRUCIAL that he will be mature and quickly admit when he is wrong, quickly apologize and seek to redeem himself.
5. Your friends and family don’t approve.
Ladies, love is blind. And sometimes we can be prideful ourselves and get defensive of our romantic choice. I know it all too well. My mom and sisters would have something unbecoming to say about my boyfriends, therefore I would stay with him longer just to prove them wrong. PLEASE learn from my stubborn mistakes. No matter what kind of parents you think you have, at the end of the day, they do not want their daughter with someone who doesn’t treat them well. They are wise and see things we don’t sometimes, so please trust them and honor their opinion.
6. Makes you feel crazy.
If your boyfriend makes you feel unworthy of love and has made you start questioning yourself or feel in a state of confusion, GET OUT NOW. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” 1 Cor 14:33. Sometimes, a charming boy will sweep you off your feet into a whirlwind romance and suddenly you start noticing gradual outbursts. No boy should play mind games with you, disrespect you or ever embarrass you in public. These are all forms of psychological abuse. The man you are investing your life in should only ever bring out the best in you and make you feel like the most beautiful, precious girl in the world…especially with no makeup on.
Ultimately, these red flags are important because you are joining your life with another person forever. I remember a retreat I went on in middle school. They showed an example of a boyfriend and girlfriend. One was standing on a chair and the other was on the ground. As a result, the one on the ground ended up weighing down the other, rather than the one on the chair lifting him up. You need to decide what you want your life to look like. And it starts with knowing your self worth first. If you are unsure what that is, your worth is immeasurable. Don’t settle for less than God’s best and for heavens sake, don’t make the excuse that “good guys just don’t exist anymore.” NOT TRUE. Define your priorities and pray for God to bring about the life he wants to give you.