Today I have the honor of introducing a very special guest post written by Lorelle, who has written for PMS before. This topic is something I’ve struggled with my whole life: When things look devastatingly good on paper but in real life, you’re surrounded by red and pink flags. Lorelle, take it away…
We. Have. All. Been. There.
We know it happens not just with relationships, but dream job interviews, looking at a great house for rent or sale, a wonderful vacation package to Heaven on Earth, hotel deals that can’t be missed, that ‘must have’ item of the moment and the two for one offer that just couldn’t be passed up…
We are full of anticipation, excitement, a feeling of abundance and happiness. There we are, floating on a boat, out to a shimmering sea of great expectations and a beautiful view that has us smiling from ear to ear…
Or so it seemed…
SPOILER ALERT: This doesn’t turn out how you thought it would.
Remember that time you met a wonderful someone who seemed to tick all the boxes? That person who was refreshingly half full and not half empty. That person who was so happy to have you float into their sphere. You also felt the same way. A great match.
Life was indeed cruising along, full steam ahead, flags fluttering in the breeze…
Speaking of which, the breeze does seem to have turned rather icy just now. And what color were those flags that caught your eye?
What is that in front of us? Oh my, iceberg ahead?? But this is not the Titanic!
Yes, history can repeat. Your boat is not floating anymore and just so you know, those flags you saw were RED!
How many times has this happened to you? Why does it happen? And how can you get to the fine print sooner than later, to either change course, jump ship or not bother boarding at all?
I think this dilemma is an interesting, multi-faceted one. Everyone, by human nature, wants to project their BEST self to a new love interest. We all do it. It’s part of early romance and getting to know someone new.
Students also do the same thing in the classroom, exhibiting their best behavior at the start of the year, because what anyone is really trying to do is to put their best foot forward. We do it as adults when we start a new job. Make a good first impression and you qualify yourself as a person of quality who is also worthy.
Sometimes this behavior is really sweet. For example, the guy I worked with who asked for a recipe, so he could cook his new girlfriend dinner one night. She was so impressed. It only came out months later about how he pulled it off (cooking lessons at my house), but it was a really sweet tribute to her and said a lot about how he was willing to try new things and wanted to win her over and put effort in to please her. They are married now.
A little different, is the guy who tries to win you over by sending you links to love songs, suggesting he ‘loves the shape of you’ and then mixes signals and disappears for three weeks with no explanation…Um, no one got married.
So! Here we go… Since we can’t get a movie style preview of how someone will be three months down the road, we will instead look at the varying reasons something that looked so good on paper, can actually turn out to be a dead set case of “NEXT!”
It’s important to remember that we are not looking for perfection in others. We are all flawed. We are all imperfect. That’s the thing, real love, is able to embrace someone and all their flaws, and love them anyway. That is the healthy and grown up thing.
First, you need to know we are all chemically in love at the start.
LOVE is blind. Yes, it really can lead you up the proverbial garden path.
This is the element we are dealing with in the first three to six months where we have raging levels of feel good endorphins charging through us. Nothing looked or felt this good and we are feeling so loved up. After a time, this feeling of love becomes a more settled kind, less of a tidal wave and more like a flowing river.
To make this transition though, you both must be on the same wavelength, wanting the same things and both equally committed.
Expectations: what are yours? What are theirs? This can cause changes to occur early on. If things aren’t matching, then we reconsider. This is okay though. This is less about someone misrepresenting themselves and more about things just not being a good fit. It’s usually pretty harmless and easy to move on from.
However, if any gaping holes emerge in this stage of the relationship, you will fall through them. After some time you will begin to notice and rethink.
The problem with an endorphin overload is that you often can’t see the truth even when its right in front on you.
Sometimes, even when the evidence is right in front of us (AKA the brick wall), we fail to see it because when we are in love; we sometimes just don’t want to see it.
We are still in love with the image that was projected.
This can be harmless, if you are just not matched as a couple, however, if you are dealing with (as Natasha says, f*cktards, empathetic bankruptcy), predators and people who love mind games, you will quickly learn things haven’t gently turned into a flowing river, but more of a murky swamp.
I’m talking about the sociopaths/narcissists of the world we learn to deal with, although when you realize how they operate, you can detect one of these early on. The thing here is, these are the people who pretend to care for you, but in reality, don’t. These kinds of people have no empathy. This is a HUGE red flag and one that will stand out quickly. If someone can’t relate to you emotionally, unless it is through sex (which still isn’t an emotional connection for them anyway), you will need to step back a bit and put the focus on their behavior, not your feelings. Watch out for manipulation.
I am someone who needs mantras and words in my life, and when I see quotes I love, hear words I think are powerful, I write them up and put them up on the wall. True! Here is one I think is beautiful and I like to think of it as the…
Honesty: Speaking the truth.
Integrity: Doing what one says they will do. Being consistent.
Transparency: This is related to honesty, but it is where people can see your intentions and heart and know it to be true. No hidden agendas. Think of authenticity.
These are beautiful qualities. They aren’t a given though and can bite extra hard with online dating. These are the hallmark qualities that you should be looking for. Make sure you are exhibiting these qualities too. Like attracts like. Keep your standards high. You deserve love, not crumbs.
If this trifecta isn’t present, manipulation of you will happen, so they can get what they want. You won’t be taken care of though in the process. This can take a while to notice at times, but remember…
Actions must always match words.
If you are often paying the emotional bill, catering to another’s needs and unsure of where you stand with them, then at least one of these three is missing.
Triangles need three things. Remember this! Learn these words and think of them when your intuition speaks. Ask yourself, “which one of these is missing right now?” You will cut through a lot of unnecessary pain if you can make this part of your daily way of thinking.
These qualities ensure you are in a healthy, functional relationship, where there is room for intimacy and loyalty to grow. This brings us back to what I said earlier: Actions TELL you the truth. Not the words that someone says.
Often, words are used to manipulate, deceive, and paint fantasies for you to live in and believe.
I promise you this, if you weigh their words against what is actually happening, you will see the truth. They MUST match. Once you realize this, it becomes simple.
You will waste less time and energy on people when you start to notice what is going on. Dysfunctionality also activates your emotional GPS so you will have no need to doubt yourself. Stop doing that. Your innate intelligence will always be honest with you.
Some examples of mismatched words/actions:
- Saying “I love you”… Then going missing for days without caring you are upset by this and returning like nothing happened. Someone who loves you won’t do this because they would never risk losing you. When we love someone we don’t treat them like crap.
- “You’re so beautiful.” Easy to say. Great to hear. But what do they do that makes you feel beautiful and that they value and treasure you? Words can be very cheap. Don’t sell yourself short on words. If they are just saying things to use and manipulate you, but they aren’t consistent or there when you need them, that isn’t beautiful.
- Cancelling on plans at the last minute with questionable excuses. If you get a text telling you: “Sorry I can’t make it. The next-door neighbors grandmother’s cat is coughing up fur balls,” then know you are being brushed off. This is not the real reason. People who care WILL FIND THE TIME. They won’t cancel/be hit with amnesia/let you down/be unavailable unless they are seriously ill or something tragic has happened. Watch out for lameness. It tells a story all its own. Don’t be part of that story.
- Being distant/unavailable around holidays and other special times, like your birthday. Or not wanting to celebrate your happiness and achievements. You are worth someone’s time. You are worthy of being acknowledged when special days come around. These are opportunities to show love to you. If they aren’t beside you to share these times, they don’t care about you.
- Failing to tell you about certain parts of their lives, going to events without you/not introducing you to their friends/not including you in social things. This is not good. It does carry a message though – you are not a priority.
- Love bombing. You have probably heard this one, but it’s when you are receiving constant praise, flattery and compliments at the beginning of the relationship. You believe them, it makes you feel good and you are convinced this relationship is the one because it’s like no other. This doesn’t last though, and once you are hooked on them, they back off, become totally inconsistent, are hurtful and cause emotional turmoil. This behavior is incredibly deceptive, because they often call, text, and want to see you ALOT. Remember this: Balance is key. If they are moving fast, that’s your cue to watch carefully and know where the exit signs are because moving fast is a big clue. Message: They are trying to sell you something that doesn’t actually exist. Bad deal.
- Excuses. Excuses are NOT reasons (closely related to the fur ball story above). Watch and listen. If things seem shady, aren’t adding up, are inconsistent, or this person can be randomly hurtful towards you, then things won’t get better. This is not what loving, emotionally available people do to those they care about.
People reveal themselves over time: If you meet someone amazing and they unexpectedly start treating you badly, they are just revealing themselves. The message: Same ship, different route, same crappy service. (They were like this before you, they will be the same with the next person too).
Mind Games: Are easy ones to spot, but incredibly, so often overlooked!
- Hot/cold. Push/pull. Yes/no
- “It’s not you, it’s me…” ‘I need space’ (for three months…)
- Silent treatments for days/weeks
- Refusal to acknowledge your feelings
- Poor or intermittent communication
- Devaluing/valuing you
- Promises to never repeat hurtful behaviors again (but of course, it continues)
- Refusal to apologize for hurtful or neglectful things said or done
None of the above indicate a healthy, functional relationship. If these behaviors start occurring out of the blue, that’s your red flag flying. Notice it. If you don’t, this behavior will not only continue, but get worse and you will suffer in spades.
Still unsure? Try this litmus test: What are they actually doing for you/with you?
Always go back to this one! If it is nothing much, then you need to ask yourself, “is this good enough for me?” Ask yourself, “does this person deserve me?” You deserve to be loved and treated like you matter. If you matter to them, then you will know. Not being sure of where you stand with someone is an answer. It means you aren’t a priority. If you are getting nothing – NEXT!
Occasionally someone wonderful in your life turns out to be a person who looks at you and sees something that can benefit them (what they perceive you can DO for or GIVE them). Specifically, how you give them an advantage, through either your status, money, talent, skill or social connections. People who want something from you can be very subtle in their deceptiveness.
Despite any attributes you may have, THEY DO NOT DEFINE YOU! They are gifts you have or things you do, these are not part of your essence. You are a human being, not an advantage/opportunity for another. Remember this.
No matter how clever you are, how much money you have, how good looking you are or how many people know you, these things are not part of your essence. Fame, fortune and image don’t feed your soul or love you, for YOU.
So, if someone wants you in their sphere because of the light you shine, remember that your inner light is what shines the most. Don’t ever forget this. You need people in your life who love YOU, not just because of what you can do for them. Your talents are a bonus, but they are never going to be the reason someone will deeply love you.
I often think of people I have met who are extraordinary in some way. They seem to have it all. I often look at them and think how effortlessly they seem to deal with life. How they are so seamless and in control. But then I also think, how much of what people say to them carries real weight? People can be shallow and self-serving. Sometimes people say things that make us feel good. They seem to be invested in us, to care for us and we believe we matter to them. However, sometimes they are only around us/with us because of an ulterior motive. You will learn this over time, because your transactions with someone like this will lack depth. You will feel it. They will lack integrity and honesty.
Things to remember:
- Endorphin highs are hard to argue with. When you feel good, you believe the connection is good for you. You will see what you want to see and make excuses for behavior that isn’t loving or doesn’t add up. BE BRAVE and stop doing this. Healthy connections with loving people will NOT put you through this.
- Trust: we all want to believe the best in others. You can still do that, but you need to temper it with gut instincts. They tell a different story than your heart does. Trust also takes time to develop. You need to watch and wait for awhile before you fully trust a person. Take your time. Open up slowly, you don’t need to share everything about yourself in the first flush of love. Watch for what they are telling you too. If it is very little, or too much. Pace yourself. Flowers don’t bloom overnight. They start out as tiny, green buds, then slowly and finally open. Bloom when you are ready. You need to feel comfortable. If things are moving too fast or too slow, you will feel
You need to trust yourself before you can trust others. Back to what I said earlier about people who want you because of what you can do for them – Be careful about who you invite into your personal space. You can share yourself over time. No rush. Beware of those who like what you have to offer them in material ways. You are not a commodity. You are a human being. That is priceless. No sale!
- Again: Gut instincts don’t lie. Intuition doesn’t break. Hearts break. When you feel your emotional GPS kick in, you need to stop and listen. Your face isn’t going to feel or look good if you keep hitting brick walls. You will also drown on sinking ships that don’t have life boats.
Tips for moving on when the fine print reveals a different story:
Firstly, don’t blame yourself for things not being as they seemed on paper. When another person reveals themselves to you, and it doesn’t match the initial image, that’s a gift. It means you don’t have to invest any more time or energy into this person. You have a “get out of jail” card for free. Bless!
Remember these words: If it is what YOU are saying and doing, that is YOUR stuff. If it is what THEY are saying and doing, it is THEIR stuff.
Don’t confuse the two. You are not responsible for how someone else behaves. Even if they try and tell you that, know it is not the case.
Learn to gauge your feelings:Your emotions are your barometer. If you are feeling hurt, confused, uneasy or angry in response to things said or done, then you need to reassess. If you feel unimportant, overlooked and not like a priority to this person, then you aren’t.
When someone cares for us, it matters to them that we are happy and feeling good. Think of how you treat someone you care for. You want them to be happy and know you appreciate them.
Let your emotions guide you. If you aren’t feeling good, then don’t make excuses for this person based on the package they appeared to be when you first met them. Appearances truly can be deceiving.
If you are getting over a break up, try treating yourself like you treated your ex. Lots of love. Spoil yourself. Watch a DVD wrapped up in a warm blanket. Eat well, exercise (you will get another endorphin high out of this and unlike the other, it will always feel good!). Buy something new to wear, have a facial, buy a gym membership, go to a new restaurant, buy yourself flowers, go watch a live game, clean your house top to bottom, call a friend… So many things will help you feel better. Be with people who make you feel good. Just be kind to yourself.
Part of what makes someone who is not good for us so attractive is they fact they often treat us badly and then flood us again with promises, endorphin rushes, happy times, great sex and soothing, beautiful words.
The high you get from this can be confused with love, because you have been on a diet of nothing but crumbs. STOP. This isn’t love and intimacy. This is just intensity. Intense pain when they hurt you. Intense pleasure when they come back and start dosing you up again, until the next time they throw an emotional punch at your heart. Stop living for highs that come after deep, dark, depressing lows.
Celebrate yourself! Kudos to you for noticing the signs and reading them. Paying attention to the red flags and deciding to opt out. Smile to yourself. You were onto them! You trusted yourself. You’re a white horse warrior. Ride on.
Know that love isn’t meant to be hard work. And you are not hard to love. When you feel like things are always up and down, hot and cold, filled with drama, that you aren’t good enough, that you must be doing something wrong to upset them or cause them to go silent for days/weeks… there is a message in that for you: Wrong ship. Get off.
Even if it looks good on paper and your heart is all aflutter, when your gut doesn’t want to sign on the dotted line, then it’s not good for you. The final word here: when it looks good on paper, but turns out to be fraudulent, or at least not worth your time, then you are free. The knowledge you have gained is powerful. You are safe. You can move forward.
The world is full of men and women. But there is only one you. And you know your worth.
You know that you don’t just look good on paper, you know you are who you say you are. You row your own boat. You understand and live by the golden trifecta. Remember it.
Honesty. Trust your truth. Uphold your truth. It’s powerful and beautiful. It also helps create your boundaries. You need strong boundaries. Never give up your personal truth.
Integrity. Be YOU. Actions always matching words. Not everyone can do this. You can!
Transparency. Live your truth with authenticity. A clear conscience. Show who you are through the way you live. On the daily.
The golden trifecta that rules all. This. Is. Your. Standard.
Don’t drop it.