On Red Flags and Starting Over


Does he monopolize the conversation?  Does he fail to ask of my life?

Does he care more about his looks than I care about mine?  Do I get to be the pretty one in this relationship?

Does he treat Jen and Will like they are a nuisance?

Does he have friends?  Does he get along with his family?  How does he talk about his kids?  How does he treat a waitress or the clerk at the grocery?

Does he act entitled?  Does he lack empathy?

Does he smell nicer than my girlfriends?


 Ignoring Red Flags

I know what to look for.  I knew what to look for in past relationships, too.  That doesn’t mean I always see what I need to see.

Oh, those blinders can get so comfortable.

When the simple being with someone – sharing a meal, laughing about the day’s events, making plans – is so good, it’s easy to make the choice to not see any red flags.

Or worse, see the red flags and think, “Oh, we can overcome those issues.  We can love each other enough to fix those things.”

Doesn’t love conquer all?  Don’t “they” say that we need to keep throwing love at the messy parts, and all will be well?

I threw enough love at Mark to know what it’s like to be a starting quarterback.  The messy parts stayed messy.  Nothing could be fixed with all that love.


Searching for Red Flags

So here I am again.  In those first new weeks, I’d wake every morning, reach for my blinders and grab for the magnifying glass instead.

I’ve openly told him that I’m looking for red flags.   I know…  that should have scared him off right away.

He and I have long histories of not seeing the obvious flags.   We are both gun-shy about overlooking them again.

I’ve asked him to tell me what flags to watch for.   He answered, “Well, I dunno.  What’s a red flag to you wouldn’t be to me; and what’s a flag to me won’t be to you.  Let’s take it a day at a time.”


I’ve even handed Jen and Will magnifying glasses.

It’s become a game.

When he showed up at the house in a Halloween costume, it took us a minute to recognize him.  Jen took a long look at his Rastafarian wig and whispered – loud enough for him to hear – “Red Flag!”

When Nina leaves the room (she’s jealous) because I’m snuggled too closely next to him on the couch while watching a movie, Will says, “Red Flag.”


Red Flags Are Lessons

The other night – in the wee hours when many more problems are discovered than solved – it occurred to me that I might be tripping myself up with this Red Flag business.

Had I paid attention to the flags with Mark, would Jen and Will be blessing my life?

Had I paid attention to the flags with John, would I have started this blog?

Maybe Red Flags mark the gateways to lessons.

Perhaps a Red Flag is a signpost that says, “New Lesson Here.”

Instead of ignoring a flag, maybe I’m supposed to acknowledge its existence and work around it or through it.

Maybe I am supposed to throw more love at it in order to learn the next lesson.


Now I find myself reaching more quickly for the blinders than the magnifying glass.  I refuse to rob myself of the sweetness of this new relationship.  God knows I deserve the good parts that offset all those messy parts from past loves.

Jen and Will have tucked their magnifying glasses back in the drawer.

We are enjoying this – one day at a time.





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  1. My friend, I’m delighted for you. You deserve to have some enjoyment after dealing with some rotten apples. ;)

  2. Congratulations sweetie!

    You deserve a good one, and the fact he gives a very straight answer to your ‘red flags’ question says he’s got a good heart.

    Do take it one day at a time. You’ve earned this joy.

  3. YAY!!! Soak it up, bask in the glow, love, love, love….you sure as hell deserve it. :D

  4. I think each experience good or bad can teach us something about ourselves. I think we can be strengthened by our experiences, if we can reflect & allow ourselves to. I have fallen into a deeper understanding of myself because of my experiences. It’s good you are aware of the red flags, as you know what to look out for if needed. It was essential to protect you and your troop. I think in this situation it’s okay to waive a white flag. You deserve to be happy in life & love. Continue to take it one day at a time, and remember you both are walking this new path together.

  5. Meredith,

    Thanks for being happy for me. Yeah, I’m sick of the bad apples.

  6. Donna,

    Thanks, dear. He’s a patient one, that’s for sure. I do ask a lot of questions. ;)

  7. Z,

    Thanks! I forgot how fun this is.

  8. Kira,

    Thanks. It’s good to see you here again.

    So tell me, how does one keep from expecting the other shoe to drop? Doesn’t it always drop at some point? Or is that my track record haunting me?

  9. I am not Kira…but I always expect the other shoe to drop. I don’t fret over it like I used to and I will be hurt if it happens, but after 3 years, the relationship seems to only grow stronger. Is that a sign of forever? Well, you know I am pessimistic and don’t believe in that.

    I am aware of why he is here for me now. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am optimistic. I know that whatever happens, I can deal with it and will always appreciate him being here for me when I needed him so.

    You will get there. And it will be grand. :)

  10. Our track records can definitely haunt us. Our biggest worry is that we don’t have a repeat of those experiences. I think the “worry.” or rather the “expecting,” at times is inevitable. I think because we are used to how things were, we are always a little fearful or apprehensive that those same things will reappear. I think that’s normal. For me I may have a moment where I am expecting the other shoe to drop. That has happened, and its realistic. I try to catch myself fairly quickly now in those moments. I know the other shoe dropping is a real possibility. Sometimes it’s beyond our control. The big difference now, is I don’t allow the fear or worry to deny me an opportunity to experience something good. Why should we? We all deserve to experience the good. You know where you have been in the past relationship. You know what you won’t and can’t do again. You know what to look out for, and when something doesn’t feel right. You know what you need. The fact that you are asking questions is a great thing, and he seems receptive and happy to answer. All good signs :). The “expecting,” may not completely go away, but don’t let it overshadow something good.

  11. Hi Jesse,

    I am very happy for you and proud of you for throwing your hat in the ring so to speak and trying again after being wounded so badly. These are signs of healing.

    Here is my “two cents” if you feel at ease and feel cherished and feel drawn to this person–like you can take a deep breath in his company and be yourself–then enjoy and be and cherish and be cherished. I will keep my fingers crossed for you–for all the best that you so deserve!

    Warm hugs and sending you snowflakes ; )

  12. Z,

    I’d hoped you would chime in on this. I know we are very alike in this area. I don’t believe in forever, either.

    That old…. “We come into each others’ lives for a reason….”

    Your perspective helps me. Thank you.

    I’m happy for you. He is one very lucky guy.

  13. Kira,

    Thanks for writing back.

    You make a very good point: “…. don’t let the expecting overshadow something good.”

    My INFJ brain over-thinks. Constantly!

    It is what it is. As I’m always reminding my kids, I need to focus on what’s good and be grateful for that.

  14. Lynn,

    Your “two cents” always add up to way more.

    Oh… those are good reminders. Feeling cherished is a big one for me. None of us should ever put up with being treated like we’re ordinary.

    Thanks, dear. All the best to you and your kids.

  15. The over-thinking is a pattern, which is hard to break. When you catch yourself doing it, it’s just reminding yourself in the same breath, “one day at a time,” “it is what it is.” I am soooooooo happy for you. Enjoy!!

  16. Kira,

    Thank you, thank you. ;)

  17. One thing I never ever expected to do was meet his family. They are across the globe, do not speak English, and we are not getting married so it wasn’t a consideration at all. Then I come home from work one day last month and he says, “Let’s go”… So we are going and will be visiting them all. Eek!

    My overthinking says… Where is this taking me? Is this someone else’s plan? I need a pepcid.

    But, I am excited! We will be traveling around a bit and I haven’t even been close to that vicinity. And we have a 10 hour layover in Paris. Bonus!

    Life is funny and sometimes you just need to let go and say, “yes, let’s go”.

  18. Z,

    I am absolutely thrilled for you! (So is Jenny. She has a thing for Paris.)

    Wow! You SOOO deserve this sweetness in your life. Enjoy every fabulous minute.

    Pack some Pepcid, but I’m willing to bet you won’t need it.

  19. Thank you! I will probably do something silly and drink the water….better pack the Imodium instead. Lol!

    For once, I am looking forward to going on a vacation. I know he will take care of me with no criticism, alienation, and demands. I have been to Zurich, Rome, Curaçao, Maui, and Jamaica in my previous life. Not a large list, but enough to make me want to stay home. Traveling with a N spoils it all. This is a whole new adventure! I am a very lucky girl.

    The point is not to brag about my travels but to show that life after repression takes some getting used to and can be so so sweet if you let it. xx

  20. Z,

    Oh I know. I’m so glad you are showing us how life can improve… how there is hope for something shiny and fine.

    Lynn!? Are you there? Do you hear her?

    It truly is possible!

  21. Dearest Jesse,

    Weighing in here. Is he a Narcissist? Okay, no. Then no worries. You can handle anything else, and anything else is worth handling. Count the green flags!

    Enjoy every minute!

    I’m a big fan!

  22. Hi Toni,

    It’s so nice to see you here!

    You know, that has become my litmus test for any interaction – is he/she a narcissist?

    You are SO right! Anything/anyone else is worth handling. :)

  23. Well . . . I know that about you—that N is your litmus test, which makes me think about what Marci said once and I’ve repeated tons a times since because it sounds right to me. Because the things I wanted most were always the most scary. Anyway, here’s what she said, though I’ve probably told you this before:

    “They’re two kinds of fear: One that screams danger, danger, RUN! and the other one that says I want this so badly, but I’m terrified it won’t work/I can’t have it/it’s too good to be true/etc!”

    I think you’re experiencing Fear #2. So here’s something else to consider. If it’s too good to be true, it must be true. Right, because truth is good.


  24. This was nice to come back to. (Thanks, Toni!) I have been itching for Turkey, especially since he is there without me right now. Hard to believe that was almost 3 years ago already! Even harder to believe we are on the brink of 6 years together. Where does the time go???

  25. Toni,

    You always know just the right thing to say at just the right time.

  26. Z,

    And just think of how you’ve both grown in those almost six years. sigh …

  27. Thank you for that reminder. Yes, it is true, we have both grown as individuals and with each other. I continue to be amazed all the time…not at the excitement or entertainment of it, but in the comfortable mundane low expectation of it all. It’s really an introvert’s dream come true. lol! Good thing he is one too!

  28. Z,

    It sounds like the right kind of good.

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