Windows of Opportunity for Healthy or Toxic Relationships
Hi, Best Friend,
Are you asking, “How did I get in this situation…again?” The truth is those flags are there in the beginning- pink, red, or on FIRE – we see them and choose to run right past them.
In looking back over my failed relationships, I can honestly tell you there was something in my first encounter/date/conversation that made me feel uneasy or let me know this person was not for me; however, I said, “Let me just see what is going to happen.” On top of that, once I became intimate with them, it really made it hard to see their true character. If the sex was good, it makes it even harder to walk away (that’s a different conversation for a different post).
When I met my ex-husband in 2006, he had just moved to Atlanta one month prior. He was living with his cousin, sleeping on her floor, and did not have a car to drive. He told me that he had a successful business where he came from, but it failed. He wanted to start his life over. Friend, he had a job and “potential.” Now, are these abusive qualities? Nope! Were they consistent with my value system? Nope! I wanted to be married so badly that even though these things went against what I wanted in a man, I thought I could help him see his potential. Ironically, in the weeks before he shot me and my daughter, he told me in a moment of anger, that he only got involved with me because he wanted to leave his cousin’s apartment and I was so desperate for a man that I made it easy for him. Wow!
You have probably done this too. It was probably not to this degree but we have all had our, “let me see what is going to happen” moments in the first few dates or moments. Not sure of what I’m talking about? Amongst other things, you saw that he:
- Had a pattern of cheating on other girlfriends
- Did not have goals or aspirations for the future and you do
- Was extremely critical of his ex
- Did not have his financial house in order
- Didn’t treat the mother of his children well
- Does not take care of or spend time with his children
- Chose not to have a relationship with the Lord
- Wanted something you knew you couldn’t do but said you will try to do it anyway (I dated a man who told me on the first date he didn’t like affection. Friend, that’s my love language. Was that going to work? Nooooo).
- Did things that went against everything you believe – drugs, alcohol, gambling, illegal activities
- Did not have actions that matched up with his words
- Was married when you met him
- Checked his phone constantly when you’re together, but would not return your calls or texts when you’re apart because “He didn’t see them or left his phone in the car.”
And more…so much more…
We thought he wouldn’t turn those toxic behaviors on us. We thought that we could change him. We thought he would eventually love us the way we wanted. We were wrong. Now the relationship has fallen apart or you see that your “wait and see” approach is doomed for failure. Your feelings are hurt. You are questioning your worth. You feel used, betrayed, bitter, hurt, angry at yourself and him, and you’re in a space where you don’t care about anything anymore- you don’t want to feel or think. You are thinking to yourself “you didn’t sign up for this,” but you did…when you saw those flags and didn’t look at them as a hard stop. I remember saying to God, “I never want to cry again, unless they are tears of joy.” That was unrealistic, but there is hope for you and me. Let’s go!
Ok, Bestie, I want you to brainstorm a list of EVERYTHING you want in a mate. Go wild. Go crazy. I mean I want you to design what you deem to be the ideal characteristics in a man. Have fun with it. Friend, I ended up with 40 things on my list when I did this a few years ago. Now here is where the transformation happens. Begin by thanking God for ALL the things that are going right in your life. Then I want you to ask for forgiveness for your sins. Be very specific. Next, I want you to ask God to guide you in choosing the mate HE wants for you. After your prayer, take that list you just created and place numbers by the characteristics in order of importance or priority. For example, “has a relationship with God” is my #1. “Sleeps with the fan on and the TV” off might be #23 (LOL).
Now, take a look at what is in your top 10. I would say focus on what is in your top 5. That is where your value system exists. For me, I always compromised in my top 5. You probably have too. This is why we keep getting in toxic or unhealthy relationships. Next time you meet someone, I want you to think about your top 5 (or ten). This will become your litmus test for every relationship going forward. Ask yourself, “Does this person align with my value system?” If not, keep moving. If yes, this is the person you want to take the “let me just see what is going to happen” approach.
No matter what anyone tells you or what you may be telling yourself, you deserve to have a mutually satisfying, healthy relationship. You are worthy and you can have it when you let God guide you. Trust Him. He has the ability to look into the window of your very soul (mind, will, and emotions) and give you exactly what you need. We have not because we ask not.
P.S. I am redoing my list right along with you.