By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Dating is all about testing the waters and seeing if you can find someone with whom you want to form a lasting bond. After all, if a relationship doesn’t lead anywhere, why waste the time, right?
After more than 20 years of ministering to women who wish they’d heeded the warning signs in their dating relationship before pursuing marriage (and many whose marriages ended in divorce), I’ve compiled a list of the characteristics or scenarios that raise red flags and indicate you should look elsewhere.
Whether you’re engaged to be married, in a serious relationship, or in the first few weeks of dating a man, I encourage you to keep both eyes open and maintain a teachable heart so you don’t miss the warnings and red flags and commit to a relationship that leads primarily to heartache.
In case you’re already contemplating the question Should I stay or should I go? let me help you decide on what could be the difference between a successful marriage and a misery-ever-after or painful divorce. Here are 10 signs you need to not just put on the brakes, but all-out let him go.
1. He Can’t Be Trusted
Yes, everyone makes mistakes. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
But lying, cheating, or just being unaccountable to the point that you constantly wonder what he’s doing when he’s not with you isn’t normal. Nor is it healthy. Trust is something one must earn, not something to which one is entitled. If he has a habit of lying (there’s nothing little nor white about a little white lie), cheating, or simply not being where he said he would because something always seems to come up, that uneasy feeling in your gut is there for a reason.
If he constantly makes excuses you’re finding it increasingly difficult to believe, then believe this – it’s time to let him go.
2. He has a Hot Temper
Proverbs 29:22 warns, “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” One of those sins is abuse – whether it be verbal, physical, sexual, or emotional.
One in four women today is in an abusive relationship or has been abused. Most of those women either saw the signs ahead of time and ignored them, or married their partner quickly before seeing his true colors. Women often stay in a relationship with an abusive individual because they are repeatedly told by their abuser that it will never happen again. Or they become convinced they deserved the abuse, and if they leave the relationship no one else will love them.
Hear me clearly on this one, beloved of God: You are already loved. You already deserve more.
Ninety percent of the time, abuse is by someone who has an anger problem. If you have reservations about the abusive tendencies of your relationship partner, or how he deals with his anger, don’t just break it off, run.
Anyone who has an anger-management problem or repeatedly hurts you by what they do or don’t do, by what they say or don’t say, or by their silent demeanor needs professional help, not a relationship that enables them to continue their abusive or manipulative behavior.
James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” If that’s not him, please let him go.
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3. He Drops off the Grid without Explanation
Some men habitually do this. Women have yet to figure out why. Maybe these guys need their space more than others, or maybe they’re trying to figure out if they really want a relationship with you. Perhaps they are passive-aggressive and want to feel they are still in control of the relationship by simply disappearing until they are ready to resume things with you.
The problem is, if they get away with it a couple times there’s nothing to stop this evasive behavior from becoming a pattern.
One of the signs of genuine love is pain in separation. If he’s fine without you and can even go weeks without seeing you, then let him. And while you’re at it, let him go – for good. It’s safe to say if he drops off the map and feels no need to explain why, he either wants his isolation (so give it to him—permanently) or he has something to hide.
Either way, you’re better off losing him.
2. He Has a Repertoire of Women
Some women find it thrilling that they were able to snag the guy every girl wanted. But do you want to risk being on the losing side of a game like that with a man who is known as a player? If he has a profile on several dating apps (or just one called “Naughty Tinder”), or seems to have a harem of contacts calling him, texting him, needing his help, or checking in with him outside the office, he doesn’t need you to add to his numbers.
Proverbs 18:24 says “a man of too many friends comes to ruin.” How much more the man of too many girlfriends? If he seems to have a few too many women in his life, opt out for the kind of man who will make you his only one.
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5. He Has Secrets
Some women initially love that their man is a mystery. But, really? Wouldn’t you rather have someone who is open, honest and forthright with you about his life and behavior than a man who keeps secrets? If he is hiding something, it’s pretty safe to assume he feels threatened you’ll call things off if you found out. That’s not cute. Nor is it a sign of love. It’s called dishonesty.
Don’t keep following blindly after a man who may have more baggage than an air terminal. Men often don’t come clean with secrets after marriage. If he’s a secret keeper, he’ll keep those secrets from you as long as he can. So, let him have his secrets. And let him go.
6. He Doesn’t Have Time
You know the story. You’ve been seeing him for a while and things were great, but now you’re hurt and discouraged because he doesn’t seem to have time for you. None of us has extra time. We each make time to do what’s truly important to us and to be with the people we want to be with.
If you’re not a priority to him now, you won’t be later. So if he’s not making the time for you, give him one less obligation in his life and let him go.
Sidenote: If he suddenly has time for you after you decide to break up, proceed cautiously. Sometimes men want what they can’t have…until they have it again. If he fools you once, shame on him. If he fools you twice, shame on you.
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7. He Doesn’t Share Your Faith or Passion
Missionary dating--sharing your faith with a guy, loving him to Jesus, and then being his spiritual mentor--has less of a successful track record than you may think. And it isn’t biblical. Scripture’s command to not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14) doesn’t just mean make sure you marry a man who shares your faith.
It means you should both be equally passionate about your relationship with God and growing at similar paces, spiritually. It means not just being in the same Book of Life, but being on the same spiritual page as one other.
Do you see Christ as the priority in your life and he’s still trying to figure out if his faith is going to “fit”? If so, it’s dangerous to commit to each other further until you see signs of him catching up or sharing your passion for Jesus. The last thing a woman wants after marriage, especially after she has children, is a man to have to push forward, drag to church, or try to appease when he’s years behind her spiritually.
Many women I’ve counseled through the years readily admit “it wasn’t that important” at the time they married that their husband share their faith or their passion for Christ. It became increasingly more important, however, as they grew in their faith (most of the time as a result of a difficult marriage), and when they had children and desired to instill spiritual values in them.
If your significant other is not a believer or is not “sharpening” you spiritually (Proverbs 27:17), you may find yourselves heading in opposite directions. Spare yourself the pain of traveling that difficult and dangerous road and let him go.
8. He’s Got a Wild Streak
I know this is exciting when you’re young and in love. He might make you feel “alive” at times and encourage you to live more spontaneously than responsibly. But here are the questions to ask: 1) is he trustworthy 2) is he responsible 2) do you feel safe with him?
The wild child/bad boy might make for an exciting first date or a fun motorcycle ride through Vegas, but chances are he won’t score high in the marriage department or on the list of parental qualities.
At the end of the day (or courtship) most women want stability, family, and a sense of predictability. If those qualities are important to you, let him go for the carefree never-wanna-marry wild woman who might be more suitable for him. There’s nothing like looking back one day and being able to say, “Thank You, God, for giving me the sense to get off of that wild ride.”
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9. He Takes More Than He Gives
Selfishness is in style these days. In fact, it’s our human nature. Yet, God’s spirit within us helps us be selfless and sacrificial when it comes to loving and serving others. Although you may have heard marriage is a 50-50 arrangement and you must learn to meet in the middle, it’s actually a 100 percent commitment and sacrifice for both parties.
That’s the kind of relationship Jesus taught--giving up your life for the other.
Philippians 2:3-4 instructs, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
If he tends to keep score when it comes to giving up his preferences for yours, or if he expects you to always be the one to make the sacrifice, he is a taker, not a giver. Best to let him always get his way with someone else... and let him go.
10. He Continually Needs Something New
Is he one to go the distance (like 200,000 miles or 20 years) with the same car? Is he the kind to stick with a project until it is completed? Or, does he switch jobs as often as he switches girlfriends? Does he have to have the newest gadget, vehicle, or device the moment it’s released?
If he doesn’t have a habit of sticking with something for very long, that could be a sign that he has trouble committing, or just learning to be content.
A man worth holding onto should have a track record of being able to go the distance with a job, car, home, project, and relationship. But if he’s always trading in the old for the new and doesn’t truly appreciate familiarity (or even something vintage), chances are he won’t stick with you, either.
In that case, best if you make the decision to not stick with him.
Let him go and you be the one who looks for something or someone new.
You are the daughter of the King, and you deserve to be treated as such. If reading this list reminds you of the man you're with, then remind yourself of your identity in Christ and what you deserve. Trust God to fill in the gaps, and let him go.
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