The Problem With Ignoring Red Flags

Author’s note: This was originally written by your truly back in 2014 and was originally published on JoelDelgado.com and has been reproduced and slightly edited for clarity with permission from the blog host. Enjoy!

“But he has so much potential!”

“But I see so much good in her!”

“If he/she would change XYZ, then he/she would be perfect!”

Sound familiar?

These are the lines we often tell our friends, our family and ourselves when we’re caught red-handed in a relationship that we have absolutely no business being in. This is what we tell ourselves to justify one’s bad behavior in hopes that one day, they will change. It’s what we tell ourselves to endure the agonizing pain that comes with being mistreated by someone we love. I’ve told myself these lies on several occasions and the results have been less than desirable.

Many are quick to automatically associate this pattern to low self-esteem, and this may be true in some cases. But for others, this pattern stems from a deeply-held belief to see the good in everyone, the aspiration to give everyone a chance or a genuine desire to help others push past their personal roadblocks and become their best.

There is nothing wrong with these traits in and of themselves (helping professionals, like me, make a career out of these principles). Bringing this “savior complex” mentality into our relationships, however, leaves the door wide open for toxicity, disappointment and heartache to enter our lives, leaving all sorts of emotional wreckage in its wake.

To think that we are immune to the consequences of being in a toxic relationship and that our love will bring about radical change to one’s dysfunctional life and character is ultimately a side effect of pride. 

Now, it’s one thing to stand by a friend or a loved one during a difficult season in their lives. That’s always a good thing, albeit not an easy thing, to do. But when an individual shows blatant character flaws and exhibits harmful behavior that can’t be fixed within one episode of Dr. Phil, we have a problem.

So, what are we supposed to do? Only date, befriend and marry people who are absolutely perfect with zero flaws?

No. That’s impossible. What we can do, though, is be brutally honest with ourselves before we commit to relationships that are bound to leave us emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.

Proverbs 13:20 had it right: Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

It’s okay to keep your standards high. It’s okay to distance yourself or, if necessary, completely cut yourself off from people who ultimately drain you of your emotional and spiritual energy.

It’s not your job to save anyone. You let God do that. In the meantime, seek out relationships where both parties pour into one another, not ones where you give of yourself to the point of emptiness only to receive nothing in return. 

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