Okay, I might be mixing my literary references here, but whenever I think of a true stand being taken, I think of Gandalf and the Balrog and I am reminded that it is possible to be unshakeable when something that truly matter to you is on the line:
In my case, what really matters to me is being totally fulfilled in relationship with someone. Which is why I took on the man fast back in June - so I could figure out why that wasn't happening even though I was dating great guys. And then ... dancing with balrogs.
I recently finished reading If the Buddha Dated and was so clear at the end of it that I hadn't been willing to do the work required. I went back through and repeated some sections, including the chapter "Be A Spiritual Warrior: Set a Bottom Line." Given how I'd been spending my summer, it was previously incongruous to do the homework AND still do what I was doing. Instead of clearing the land and setting for myself structures and foundations that would support something worth building, I'd been slaloming through red flags and limboing under behaviours in myself and others that ultimately undermined who I really am and what I want, need and deserve.
And I'm going to be totally honest here - I gave as bad as I got. And I suffered. And wallowed. And I beat myself up for all of it. And then, finally, I did the work. While the cost of not having bottom lines, the steep cost of bobbing and weaving around red flags, is fresh in my mind, I did the work.
This is my list of red flag behaviours, in myself and others, that are bottom line deal breakers. The book says to post them in my house and share them with close friends (committee, are you paying attention?) but I think the more people who know the better. And, since a considerable number of my readers are single women, I'm guessing that there's one or two people who might glean something useful from my stripping naked here.
Just to clarify, these are warning signs that I've previously ignored or rationalised in myself and others. This is not (just) finger pointing. And it's a work in progress.
I will end the relationship if ...
- I sacrifice my own needs or values to attract, keep or please someone
- he makes excuses for ignoring me or for not responding to communication in a reasonable time
- he stands me up/cancels plans
- he talks about how attractive another woman is while on a date with me
- he checks his email or Facebook or answers texts while we are on a date (yes, that one cuts both ways)
- I 'mark my territory' on his Facebook page or when we're out in public (as opposed to just freely expressing affection)
- I go somewhere because I think he'll be there, not because it's something I'd do anyway
- I cancel time I've set aside for myself
- I cancel time I've set aside for my family and friends
- he has money or time constraints that get in the way of creating increasing levels of intimacy with me
- he expects me to pay on dates (I'm not saying I'll never pay for things - it's the expectation that's a red flag)
- I use physical intimacy to manipulate his level of interest
- he deflects conversations about the relationship when I express concerns
- he does not introduce my to his friends OR I am hesitant to introduce him to mine
- I am unclear of the status or nature of the relationship
- I am insecure in the relationship and cannot tell where I stand
- he isn't TOTALLY lit up by being with me*
I was thinking today as I helped BB2 clean his current apartment (he moves to new digs tomorrow), how important it is to leave things better than you found them. This is true for back country camping, or public bathrooms, or rental homes. And it's even more true with people - if the time you've spent with someone hasn't left them feeling appreciated, valued and more powerful in their life, what the hell are you doing?
And, I can really see that I haven't done that - certainly not for Cowboy, and maybe not for other lovers either. It's an uncommon thing to do, to be able to end a relationship and still have the other person know how amazing they are. And I'm truly grateful for the fantastic men in my life who have done that (I think you know who you are - if not message me and I'll let you know). Interestingly, they are also the exes who I still call my friends - it didn't work out because it didn't work out, but they and I get to be known and appreciated in spite of that. And, it turns out that I have until now had higher standards for friends than I do lovers.
So there's one more thing I'm changing in this year of endless changes.
And as for the rest of you ... well ... YOU SHALL NOT PASS!
* in my favourite moment in The Switch, my beloved Jason Batemen gets this totally dorky smile on his face when he gets a voice mail from the girl he adores. I don't think a dorky smile is too much to ask ... in fact, it's now a requirement!