Part I

When people have long-term marriages and things are bad, we can work on fixing them. It’s better to resolve problems so kids can grow up in a home with two loving parents. But you aren’t married and you have your life ahead of you, so why get bogged down with something hurtful when you don’t have to? Why suffer? Life was not meant for suffering, not in my opinion.

Are you shocked to hear me say this? You thought I promote marriage. I do. If you’ve read my articles or if you know me, you know I am very pro-marriage. If you want to save your marriage, I will do everything in my power to help you. On the other hand, perhaps one of the reasons for so many non-committing singles is fear. Perhaps people have seen their recently-married friends get divorced within a year. Perhaps their own parents divorced or were unhappy.

I have figured out a way around this fear. If singles would know exactly what to look for – and avoid it like the plague – then they can relax about their dating experience with everyone else.

I think we were meant, like the Constitution says, to pursue happiness. Maybe it doesn’t come easily, not on a silver platter. But that doesn’t mean we can’t go for it. That’s why I wrote this. I want you to have a simple blueprint for your relationships that will help you stay on the road to pursuing happiness rather than being stuck in misery. I’ve boiled it down to the top seven warning signs that something is not right and you may be in an unhealthy relationship.

Sign 1: You are miserable in the relationship.

Another way of saying this is, “trust your gut,” or “don’t ignore your inner wisdom.” If something inside is telling you things are not right, it’s easier to push it aside. It’s easier to say, “Oh, that isn’t important.” But then, you are not honoring your own inner voice. And that voice is important. If it’s telling you that this person is making you miserable, then listen to it. Don’t push it aside.

You might want to argue that this person you’re with is really nice, really good, a wonderful person. And to prove it, you list the many gifts you are given and the sweet things you’re told. But you know what? If some voice inside you is telling you you are unhappy, that’s the real voice to listen to. And I’ll tell you why: Because what is deep inside you speaks the truth. It has access to little things that you want to ignore: things that are said that hurt at the moment but you forget later, or things that were not said but should have been that hurt and you forget about them also. Sure you forget them. Who wants to remember pain? But that inner voice does remember; it comes from your subconscious where everything is stored. That’s why you need to listen to it—and honor it.

Sign 2: Your date implies that something is wrong with you.

Some people are very obvious in how they put others down. They call them names, they use disgusting language; they roll their eyeballs at them. If you’re getting that message from your boyfriend or girlfriend, that’s clearly unhealthy. Get out of that relationship. Fast.

But the whole process of putting someone down can be very subtle. You can offer an idea and it just gets ignored without a word. That’s a put down. You say, “Here’s a fun thing to do,” and you offer a suggestion, but there is no response at all. If that happens a lot, I’d start to wonder. For sure if the response was sarcastic, like, “Oh yeah; great fun,” then you know you’re being put down. Don’t take it! Don’t allow anyone to treat you like that. Whether it’s name calling, sarcasm, or other put downs, it’s not a message those who care about you should ever give you.

Another way that someone can give you a message that something is wrong with you is through constant criticism and blame. Sometimes, this is very subtle and it looks like mere disagreement or even humor. But watch out for these types of corrections: “No, honey, we take a left at the next light. You really have a bad sense of direction.” If it’s unbalanced and you can never tease back, watch out.

No one is perfect, but the person who wants to draw attention to your imperfections—while ignoring his or her own—is using you for target practice. You don’t need that.

Sign 3: You get left out half the time.

There is no excuse for someone in a relationship to leave you out of important events in their lives. Friends wouldn’t do that. How do you let your special person do that to you? Do you start to think maybe you deserve it? See, that’s exactly what you must never do. If someone treats you badly it’s because they’re not a good person. Period. It’s not because you deserve it. No one deserves to be mistreated. Even criminals have rights!

Being included is the whole reason for being connected to someone. A connection that’s not connected isn’t much of a connection, after all. No need to blame yourself; just consider the relationship not to be worth keeping.


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