There’s a great quote from Maya Angelou that resonates with me: When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
There is no better advice for someone entering a new relationship…especially a dating relationship, but it can be a very difficult rule to follow. I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt to a certain degree, however, tread lightly if you see red flags (and for goodness sake, stay sharp!!!).
I recall a person I dated who fully admitted that he’s controlling, but his actions seemed to belie his words.
More likely, I was being a bit naive. There were clues: we seldom did anything on the fly. Someone had to “have the con” (have control of the date) as he puts it. It was usually him. He had certain dietary restrictions, so when we did dine, he scrutinized any restaurant I chose despite the constant reminders about his diet. I chalked this up to quirkiness because he was fun to hang around with and we laughed constantly.
After a while of knowing each other and dating, he kicked it up a notch, a trip to Boston.
He would be on business, I would be on vacation. I thought, “Ok, this could be fun and I need a break,” but there was a hum of warning just beneath the surface. The first night for dinner, we had to “stay within the $85 budget” (his company’s per diem…) after he ordered everything he wanted. The first morning, he wanted to go shopping for snacks for the hotel; seemed harmless. He located the carts, and called me over to grab it, as “pushing the cart is a woman’s job”. We’d had this conversation before, and in an effort to get along, I acquiesced. Apparently unloading the basket’s content on the conveyor belt was also on my non-penis-possessing to-do list. I was rather matter of fact when I asked if he was going to help. His irate and public response caught me off guard. All of this on day 2 of 5.
Just as he revealed what I’d already suspected about his personality, I realized, too, that he didn’t see me for who I am. He made assumptions that I would over pack (he packed WAY more than I ever would). He thought I would iron his clothes…a chore I hire out for because of my distinct disdain for it (and he knows this fact, so why even “test” me?).
I’ve always been a strongly independent person which we discussed, so why he thought I would stay in the hotel room while he was at his conference (yes, a date on the super cheap) rather than explore the city solo is beyond me. He’d made so many assumptions about me rather than listen to the words I’d spoken. I hadn’t misled him about my personality with subtle hints; I was overt. We shared stories about our exes, what went wrong, what went right. He clearly hadn’t revealed everything about his flaws or personality, however, I was completely honest about who I am. He chose door “B” instead of “A” because that fit his personality best. He wanted me to “act right” and “be on my best behavior”, however, the only person I can be, is me. And I’m not a child to be bribed into good behavior.
My advice is to go into dating with eyes wide open and listen to what your mate/date/friend is telling you. Don’t try to manipulate or coax out the qualities you’d rather he or she have. That never works. You can’t domesticate me by “asking for help” with ironing your clothes, when you’re fully capable of doing it yourself. That’s nothing but manipulation ESPECIALLY if you get angry and retaliate when I reply no. Neither can I make you a well-functioning, courteous, gentleman if you’re not.
Healthy relationships are about partnerships, not strategies. Going into it trying to “win” or further your agenda sets you up for failure. He can strategize all day about how to not pay a single penny for this “date”, and “win”, but he lost a valuable friend who saw his actions as extremely cheap, manipulative, and oh yes, controlling.
A healthy partnership is not about forcing someone to your will or winning, it’s about working together to create an atmosphere where you’re both comfortable and you BOTH win. You can’t do that unless you keep your wits about you, accept the warning signs, see the person for who they are, and THEN, act accordingly.
Andrea Wright is an author and life coach. Her premier novel, Trusting the Tingles (Learn to Listen to and Trust your Intuition) will be published this Summer (2015). Discover Andrea at www.thewrightpath.net. Follow her on Twitter @AWrighter247
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