Listen, I know I’m a little late here, but the other day I started watching The Hills. Before you click off, let me explain! There was literally nothing on T.V. that night, and it popped up on my Hulu recommendation list, so I just went for it. Plus, I was just looking for some background noise as I worked on a home improvement project, so the contents of the program didn’t matter that much to me.
Well, I started the series from the very first episode. You remember what happens, don’t you? Lauren Conrad has just moved to L.A. to go to fashion school and to intern at Teen Vogue. Meanwhile, her BFF Heidi Montag has just dropped out of said fashion school to pursue a career in nightlife management (or whatever you call that job).
Early on in the season, Heidi is dating this new-ish guy (I think his name is Jordan) who is—quite honestly—a complete jerk. She eventually breaks up with him, but I was confused about why she stayed with him as long as she did to begin with.
The red flags were quite glaring. And that got me thinking—as a lot of reality T.V. shows do—Why do women allow men to treat them that way?
Listen, I know it’s more complicated than what we can see on the surface.
But wait…is it?
Beware of the Red Flags—They Tell You Something!
This seems pretty straightforward to me: When someone constantly demeans you and treats you like a mere object that can easily be disposed of, you’ve got to walk away.
To be clear, I’m talking to my unmarried friends out there- those of you who are single, casually dating, or in a committed relationship in the hopes of settling down with one person for the rest of your life. You haven’t yet made a vow to this person to do everything in your power to make your relationship work. So, if they don’t treat you with dignity, love, and respect, it’s time to let them know you won’t stand to be treated like that, and if they would like to learn to be more kind, they can go and do so—without you.
I don’t think so.
Dating is hard. I get that. Been there, done that. But friend, you know you deserve better, don’t you? You are precious to God—He would never treat you like a disposable paper plate. In fact, the way that jerk treats you pisses God off (can I say that?!).
Don’t stand for it. Despite common belief and stupid cultural lies, you absolutely do choose who you love. If someone constantly belittles you, tells you you’re worthless (in word or deed), plays mind games with you, or anything else that communicates you’re not very important, it’s time for you to stand up and walk away. Because you get to choose who to love, and you get to choose who you spend your life with.
That’s why I think it’s so crucial to have your eyes wide open when you’re in a relationship so that you can notice—and consider—any red flags that pop up. It’s like a check engine light warning you that something may be horribly wrong.
I especially caution you to keep your eyes wide open even after a few months of dating. Most people are on “their best behavior” in the early stages of a relationship (I’m talking about both men and women here!). They’re going to put in the extra effort to be patient, kind, and the best version of themselves because they’re trying to impress you. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Unless they become a completely different person six months later… So, just because you don’t spot these red flags right off the bat, don’t think they can’t come later.
Obviously every person and every relationship is different, but for the most part, if you’re experiencing one or a combination of the following red flags, I want to strongly encourage you to rethink your relationship and even consider cutting it off.
Because like I always say, what you experience from someone when dating will only be exacerbated in marriage. So, here are 10 red flags that every woman needs to catch.
Despite common belief and stupid cultural lies, you absolutely do choose who you love. If someone treats you with disrespect, it’s time for you to stand up and walk away.
1. He tells you to shut up (or constantly interrupts or corrects).
Among so many other red flags in Heidi and Jordan’s relationship, this one really frustrated me. A few episodes in, I heard Heidi’s boyfriend tell her to shut up more times than I could count. No, not just in the playful Oh, shut up! type of way (although I’m not a fan of that either). It was a serious, what-you-have-to-say-is-unimportant-and-you’re-annoying-me type of “shut up.” It was rude, unkind, and unloving in every sense.
So, if your boyfriend frequently tells you to shut up, ask him to stop and tell him why. You can say something like, “What I have to say is important, and I would appreciate it if you stopped telling me to shut up. It’s disrespectful and unloving.” I know many of you are confrontation-phobic, but you can’t expect someone to change the way they speak to you or the way they treat you if you don’t actually communicate it.
If he listens and respects your request, then there might be a future. If he doesn’t, I highly encourage you to think about how he will receive your opinion, thoughts, advice, etc. when you’re married.
I point out “shut up” because that’s how it was portrayed on The Hills, but this disrespect can manifest itself in other ways like constant interruption or correction. This is more subtle, but it communicates the same thing: What you’re saying doesn’t matter. What you have to say isn’t important enough for me to continue listening. No one should you make you feel that way, especially your partner.
2. He never (or rarely) offers to pay.
Okay, listen. I know we live in the 21st century, and women are equal and love their independence. Yes, I get that, and I love that, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong or offensive with expecting your boyfriend to pay for meals or dates. I’m not saying he has to pay every single time—I don’t want him to go broke either, but if he rarely or never offers to treat you, that’s a red flag. There’s something sweet about going on a nice date with someone you love and them making you feel like you’re important—important enough to splurge on.
If you’re dating someone who’s tightfisted with their money, imagine how tightfisted they will be in your marriage.
When I was dating my husband, he was a medical student, which meant he had zero income besides some savings from his gap year. So, did I expect him to pay for every single date? Of course not! I was working full-time and was happy to pay for many of our dates.
But despite his situation, he often pulled out his debit card and said, “I got this.” There’s something about treating your partner that communicates: “You’re important to me. Important enough to spend my hard-earned money on. I want to treat you.”
3. He’s a different person around his friends.
If your boyfriend acts differently around you than he does around his friends, then he’s either extremely immature or embarrassed by you. Neither of which make for a healthy and loving relationship.
When a boyfriend is serious about you, he’ll want to show you off, not show off what a huge jerk he can be.
4. He belittles you in subtle ways.
I remember when I was in college, I had just finished a video I was really proud of (I studied broadcast journalism). I had worked really hard on it, and I was excited to show it to my boyfriend. When I pulled up the video, about 20 seconds in, he burst out laughing as he pointed out a mistake I’d made in the video.
I was so embarrassed that I remember immediately shutting the laptop, going into my bedroom, and shutting the door behind me. He had made me feel like an idiot.
If your boyfriend makes you feel like this in any way, please don’t stay with him. Your boyfriend (and potentially future husband) should lift you up, encourage you, and—as my husband calls it—be your hype man. Sure, there may be times when one of you needs to share honest feedback, but you do so in a way that is loving and helpful, not embarrassing or hurtful.
When you allow others to belittle you and treat you poorly, you only communicate to them, and to others, that you’re okay with the mistreatment, and you shouldn’t be.
5. He makes fun of you (or makes fun of your dreams, projects, etc.).
This one goes along with number four. If you’re afraid to share a dream, vision, project, idea, or any of your ambitions with your boyfriend because he might laugh at them or tell you they’re silly, then you need to rethink if you’re with the right person.
Your person should be your biggest cheerleader. They should be the first person you run to with a new idea because you know they’re going to help you brainstorm and pursue that dream. Imagine how much you’ll be able to accomplish in your marriage because you married someone who wants to see you become the greatest version of yourself. Don’t settle for less.
6. You hesitate about introducing him to your family and friends.
If you have any reservations about introducing your boyfriend to your friends or family, ask yourself why. Get honest with yourself and make a list of all the reasons you’re holding back.
That list will speak for itself.
7. He gets frustrated with how much time you spend at church.
In my early 20s, I had a friend who was engaged to a guy who got frustrated with her every Sunday because she was at church from 7:30 AM to 1 PM. She helped set up for the first service, served during that service, attended the second service, and then helped tear down.
She had a beautiful servant’s heart, and he selfishly made her feel bad about it because he wasn’t interested in spending his entire Sunday morning at church.
As believers, the local church should be a priority in our lives. I’m not saying you have to spend every waking moment there, but if your boyfriend makes you feel bad for attending small group, Sunday service, or serving on the weekends, think about how often he’ll make you feel bad for growing in your faith in marriage. Trust me, you don’t want that in your life.
Instead, find someone who will be serving right alongside you. Keep looking, they’re out there.
8. He gets drunk or experiments with drugs.
If your boyfriend doesn’t know how to drink responsibly or is experimenting with drugs, imagine how much more substance he’s going to need when real life sets in … when he’s working a job that’s exhausting and coming home to screaming toddlers. He’s going to need more and more to “take the edge off,” and you’ll be stuck dealing with the effects of that:
- The bad example to your children.
- The emotional distance.
- The wasted money.
- The potential violence.
Is that what you want your future to look like?
9. He treats his mother poorly.
Growing up, my mother always told me, “If you want to see how a man will treat you, watch how he treats his mother.”
Man, that is so true. A man who is sweet and generous with his mother will most likely be sweet and generous (and other things!) with you.
10. Others have warned you about him.
You can’t always believe what others say, but if you’re noticing a pattern of people warning you about this guy then I would advise you to pay attention. Ask yourself questions like:
- Who are these people in relation to your boyfriend? Does that make them credible?
- How has he treated women in his past relationships?
- Are the people warning you from his community?
- Does he have a good reputation overall?
This list of red flags is not comprehensive, but I do hope it’s helpful.
My goal is not to discourage you. Listen, no one is perfect, but when you’ve found that person whom people can rarely speak a bad word about and consistently shows good character, you’ll know they’re worth keeping around.
No man (or woman) is perfect, so don’t expect to find someone who will never fail you or disappoint you. But you are deserving of someone who strives to cherish you, someone who does their best to treat you like the treasure that you are.
I pray our persistence to pursue only the best will force the men who are slacking to step up their game. Are you with me?
No one is perfect, but when you’ve found that person whom people can rarely speak a bad word about and consistently shows good character, you’ll know they’re worth keeping around.
Are you questioning what your worth? You need to watch this…
You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Get It Girl! How Self-Respect Can Change Your Life – 097!