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Are You Settling for a Red Flag Guy?

are you settling for a red flag guy

“What do you do to your hair?” he asked. My red hair had faded to a nice shade of strawberry blonde through the years, and now a strip of white framed my face. “I know that women in this outdoorsy community like to let their hair go white, but I hope you won’t,” said the man with the white hair.

That same day he asked, “Do you like to dress up or wear makeup?” Um, you just took me to a movie, not Carnegie Hall. I’m wearing a cute sweater, my favorite jeans, dressy boots, and makeup, thank you.

Apparently, this man wanted me to change my outward appearance. It was a red flag. But I didn’t recognize it as such.

Are You Ignoring a Red Flag?

When it comes to relationships, there are a few puzzling, incomprehensible tendencies we women lean toward. One of them is not recognizing—or if we do recognize, then ignoring—red flags.

On our first date, this same man did most of the talking. The few times I spoke up, it didn’t appear as if he was listening. In my journal, I wrote: “I asked several questions because I wanted to hear his story, so of course he would do most of the talking.”

Did you catch that? I made an excuse for his lack of listening skills.

After a handful of dates, he called one morning and said, “This isn’t going to work.” My heart wasn’t broken. But it was a little bruised because rejection is never fun, and there were things I liked about this man.

When it comes to relationships, there are a few puzzling, incomprehensible tendencies we women lean toward. One of them is not recognizing—or if we do recognize, then ignoring—red flags.

I Made a List of Red Flags

And so I did a simple exercise, not out of meanness, but to help me process this situation with clarity. I drafted a list of reasons why I’m grateful God ended the relationship. Amazingly, there were well over a dozen items on my list. How could I not have noticed? What did I not understand about the fact that several small red flags add up to a significant color?

Once, while on a coffee date, he said he liked to do acts of service—like, bring the woman tea or open doors for her. But he didn’t open the coffee shop door on the way out or the car door even though he reached the passenger side first. In my driveway, he idled his vehicle and said goodbye, which made me feel as if I was being dumped out into my driveway.

dating tag boardHe couldn’t say my name correctly, even up until our final date. In fact, he preferred the way he pronounced it, he said. (Note to self: If he doesn’t know your name, he’s not that into you.)

We women would be wise to listen to the input of the people who know and love us best. They can usually see with clarity from the perspective of not being emotionally attached. It was a male family member who pointed out the ‘change your outward appearance’ red flag: “He wants someone who looks younger. For us men, that feeds our ego.”

It Takes a Strong Woman to Not Compromise

This from an author unknown: “As we gain confidence in ourselves, red flags are no longer red flags. They’re deal breakers.”

It takes courage to acknowledge the warning signs as deal breakers because there are things we really like about the guy. Or because it’s not a big deal to adapt a little for him. Or because we think we can train him.

But we’re not called to change people. They are who they are. It was Maya Angelou who said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” This man was showing me that he wished I’d change my hair, makeup, and how I dressed, and he wasn’t nearly as thoughtful as he professed to be.

Yes, it takes courage to acknowledge red flags for what they are. It takes grit and grace to stand, unbending and uncompromising, waiting for the right man—the man who isn’t carrying a suitcase full of warning signs around with him.

As we gain confidence in ourselves, red flags are no longer red flags. They’re deal breakers.

I’m So Thankful I Didn’t Settle for the Wrong Relationship

Back when I first awakened to the possibility of remarrying after a few years of widowhood, I listened to a teaching series by Ben Stuart titled, “Single, Dating, Engaged, Married.

5 Tips for when you want to re-enter the dating world PIN“Dating is not a status to sit in,” Stuart said. “It’s a process to move through to see if we’re meant to end up together. Dating is about evaluating: Is this the kind of person I want to run with in chasing the purposes of God? Are we meant to grab hands and run together?”

Had Red Flag Guy not called it off when he did, I wouldn’t have met Dan a short while later. Accidentally. While interviewing him for a story. Dan, the man who asked me to marry him and didn’t ask me to change anything about myself. Dan, the one who recognizes the value I bring to the relationship and cherishes me for who I am.

Instead of settling, what if we could grab hands and run with someone whose heart is going in the same purposeful direction as ours?

Speaking from experience, we absolutely can.


For more tips on avoiding “red flag guys” and dating good men, check out this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Dating? What to Look for in a Man – 073

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Marlys is a Chai tea snob who would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping.

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