I often say I’m good at giving advice, but very, very bad at taking it. In fact, if I gave myself the advice I give others, I would guess that much of the drama that somehow finds its way into my life would immediately dissipate. (Though I’d have very little to write about, so I suppose there’s the tradeoff.) And yet in my conversations with girlfriends, we only in retrospect discuss the red flags.
Red flags: you know, those little twinges of "uh oh" that happen in the initial stages of the relationship, long before you’re way too invested and when walking away isn’t yet out of the question without too many repercussions. The fact that he cheated on his ex-wife. The fact that he rides a crotch rocket. The fact that he’s still manipulated by his ex girlfriend. His nostrils. You know, the normal things that send you heading straight to The Land of Ick, or at least make you question if this is going to ever go anywhere. And I don’t think I’m the only one who’s found herself, for one reason or another, ignoring them, because we WANT THIS ONE TO LAST. This one has POTENTIAL! We met BY CHANCE ON AN AIRPLANE! We SHARE THE SAME BIRTHDAY! We both love DOGS! And, for God’s sake, WE BOTH LIVE IN AMERICA! I mean, coincidences like this don’t often happen, so when they do, so when we see something in the other person that we can connect to, see something that sends our engine revving and our tummy aflutter and even our brain all stimulated, well, we want to keep that around. We want to keep THEM around, whatever the consequences.
And so we ignore the red flags, pushing them down into the "must have been a one-time deal" category, and attempt to forget that initial "uh oh" feeling that will eventually rear its ugly, repressed head when the other shoe drops. And it’s only when it does that we bring them up again, that we finally reveal the whole truth, that he waved at you from across the bar the same day that you slept with him, that you find pictures of other blonde girls at other baseball games with him that aren’t you, that you know he doesn’t want a relationship but maybe, just maybe, he’ll change his mind. Which brings me to my next point: Settling.
If we were only honest and forthright about what we wanted, we would never settle. Yet we convince ourselves that maybe we really DON’T have to be treated the way we deserve, that perhaps we’ll take "Friends with Benefits" instead of holding out for the real relationship we’re seeking. We choose to turn a blind eye to the reality that the situation is less than optimal, in essence lowering our standards and – sorry to get all new-agey on ya here – betraying our authentic self. We’re taking the easy way out because for some reason we decide that something is better than nothing.
It’s similar to the adage: "If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything." And I think it’s time for us to stop this behavior, to start standing for something, to start standing up for ourselves and stop settling. Because at the end of the day, I’d rather be with myself than be with you who won’t ever fully get me. Sometimes, being alone is the best choice.