Dating Danger Signals
- Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I felt a sudden panic as the sirens blared from somewhere behind me. I quickly scanned the area to see if the alarms screamed from an ambulance or police car? Had I done something wrong? Every nerve was on red alert. I noticed the ambulance behind me and pulled onto the shoulder of the road to let them pass. I began to breathe again as I was not in any immediate danger.
The sirens were effective. They warned me of impending danger. The danger signal warned me to take notice, pay close attention and take immediate action. Danger signals are effective in the wooly world of dating as well.
Recently, a client named Sheila came in to see me to assist her with lingering feelings of discouragement about not finding Mr. Right. She wondered if she was doing something wrong.
Fifty years old and divorced two years, Sheila was unhappy. Though dressed sharply, this attractive woman has been discouraged in love, time and again. We agreed to explore what she might be doing wrong and how to correct it.
Sheila was anxious about her relationship with Steve. With a twinkle of excitement, she shared about the man she had been seeing for the past few months.
“I have some questions to ask you about the relationship I am in,” she said. “I need professional advice about this situation.”
“Tell me about it,” I offered. I had a hunch that she already knew the answers to some of her questions.
“Well, I met Steve at our singles group at church. He’s a nice guy and I’ve enjoyed spending time with him. But, he told me that he’s had two DUI convictions and still drinks. I try to tell myself that isn’t a problem, but I’m not so sure.”
I watched as Sheila’s eyes avoided mine, evidencing her discomfort.
“I like being with him,” she offered enthusiastically. “He is a great conversationalist and accepts me. I’ve really missed just having someone to talk to. He pushes for a physical relationship even though we’ve talked about that being something I don’t believe in before marriage.”
“So, you’ve got concerns?”
“Yes. He told me that he liked seeing me, but didn’t really want an exclusive relationship. That he wasn’t ready for any kind of commitment, but wants to be physical. He says he has a busy life and can’t fit a serious relationship into his schedule.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“It hurts. I like him a lot and feel rejected. But, I don’t want to give up seeing him even though I know there are problems. What do you think?”
“Actually,” I said, “I’ll bet you’ve given this a lot of thought and have Steve figured out pretty well. What do you think?”
I let my words sink in. I had a strong sense that Sheila sensed the danger signals yet had mixed feelings about heeding them. Many times we avoid the truth when it goes against our wishful feelings. Perhaps Sheila needed me to confirm what her heart was already telling her.
“Well,” she said softly. “He pushes for more but isn’t willing to commit. I don’t like that. He wants the freedom to date other people. And then there’s the issue of his drinking. I try to ignore it, but I suspect that would be a problem for us.”
“You’re picking up danger signs. He is clearly applying the brakes to your relationship, yet wants to take advantage of your vulnerability. And, he has shared danger signs about his history with alcohol – and the fact that he still drinks.”
“This is exactly what my friends tell me. I was pretty sure I’d hear the same thing from you. But finding a good guy is incredibly hard. I am so tired of looking for Mr. Right.”
I sensed Sheila’s struggle. She enjoyed spending time with Steve. He enjoyed spending time with her. But, he pushed for a physical relationship without any commitment. And, he was a practicing alcoholic!
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