Take a minute and think back to your first real crush. Think about the things that you thought were important back then. For me, I thought it was so cool that he could skateboard and play the guitar. What other qualities could a girl need for the rest of eternity, right? Truthfully, 12-year-old me didn’t know anything about what would actually be important years later.
Now, think about that same person. Could you actually see yourself building a forever with them? You’ve grown so much from then until now, it’s hard to imagine that your first crush is still your perfect match. The inconvenient truth about how we start relationships in present time is that we kind of make the same mistakes as our twelve-year-old selves. We tend to idealize someone new and exciting while ignoring the big picture.
It’s easy to feel caught between identifying a red flag and just trying to be open-minded about new people. The danger is that we can easily skim over the red flags and put those on a back burner. We make it a problem for our future selves rather than dealing with reality right away. Then, future you eventually shows up and is left to deal with that back burner problem which has now snowballed bigger and bigger. Yikes.
The truth is that the red flags you ignore at the start will end up being the reasons the relationship fails later on. Just because you don’t want to see the warning signs does not mean that they will go away. In fact, the early stages of relationships are where someone puts on their best face. Once the novelty wears off, you might find that those red flags are much more serious than you initially thought they were.
So why do we do it?
We do this because humans are exceptionally gifted at self-sabotage. We aren’t stupid. We know when something is not right. We feel it when the vibes are off. We just choose to ignore it sometimes because temporary pleasure feels better than planning ahead. It’s really hard to break these bad habits because, at the end of the day, we just want to find that surefire love we’ve dreamed of since we were twelve years old.
We want to believe that our true love is right around the corner and that being open-minded is all it takes for them to be our perfect soulmate. Everything about love feels great at the beginning. Honestly, though, love takes a hell of a lot of work. You have to make sure that the person you put up that fight for is a person who will fight for you too. You have to make sure that the person you choose will not spend their lives hurting you, neglecting you or dragging you down with them.
If you keep being too forgiving and letting every warning sign slide, we will end up right back where you started. You could get stuck with someone who mistreats you and holds you back from living your best life. You could sacrifice years of your life to the wrong person and then think back to the first red flags and wonder, why didn’t I stop this back then? It is worlds easier to step away from a bad situation at the beginning than it is to walk away after you’ve built a life around this person.
Those red flags will not magically turn into green ones. The way they mistreat you will not get better with time. The first signs of abuse, disloyalty or irresponsibility will not just go away. Your instincts got pinged for a reason and you have to trust yourself enough to listen.
The more time you spend letting just anyone into your life takes away from the chance to build a relationship with someone who will genuinely treat you right. You owe it to yourself to save your heart for healthy, passionate connections. Stop selling yourself short and allowing people to trample into your life with their bad intentions. You are worth more than a relationship that brings you down and kills your spirit.
From this point on, I challenge you to stop muting the lights and sirens while they are blaring in the background. When someone shows you who they are, don’t try to change the narrative. Believe the red flags and decide what you want for yourself. Don’t let anyone stick around that will just become a problem for your future self to sort out. We only have this one life to live, so you might as well make the most of every day and every connection.