Dating Danger Signals
- Dr. David B. Hawkins The Relationship Doctor
- 2006 4 Apr
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!
Ready to move forward? No.
Ready to deal with his alcohol issues? No.
Perhaps you can relate to Sheila’s plight. She is fifty and lacking self-confidence. She wants a man in her life and is tempted to compromise and ignore danger signals. Let’s consider her options. ...
She can disregard the danger signs about his alcohol use and reluctance to get more involved. But by doing so, she will risk having her heart broken. She can move forward, becoming more physically and emotionally involved while prolonging the inevitable Day of Reckoning, facing monumental pain and feelings of rejection.
She can hope to change his mind. She can believe that he will fall madly in love with her, pursue her with passion, commit himself to her and live happily ever after in her arms. In this fantasy, he quits drinking and seeks counseling for his alcohol abuse.
She can try to enjoy the relationship for what it is. She can be honest with herself about his alcohol problems and distancing maneuvers. She can compromise her values and struggle with guilt and inevitable shame. She can decide that what he offers is enough for her – at least for now.
She can heed the danger signals and bid Steve farewell. She can thank him for the wonderful times and wish him well. She can pray for new opportunities to meet a man who can truly satisfy her desires to be loved and respected.
The Scriptures are filled with danger signs God has given for our protection. Warnings are not placed in our lives to spoil all the fun but to increase our safety and joy.
The Apostle Paul offers a prayer of power and wisdom that could be very helpful to Sheila – and perhaps you.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:18-21).
Sheila has a difficult decision to make. Wisdom is her best tool for dealing with danger signals – red alert sirens. God has given us the ability to evaluate the character of a person. If you sense danger, if you have doubts about your partner, pull over to the side of the road and seek God’s counsel. Then proceed cautiously, listening to your heart, and you’ll be better prepared to find that someone who's right for you.
Click here to read the first article in this series.
David Hawkins, PhD., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years.
He is the author of over 18 books, including David Hawkins, PhD., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years.
He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest book is titled When the Man in Your Life Can’t Commit. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on Puget Sound, where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.