by Jeff Bethke
In this post I hope to give you some practical advice from a guy’s perspective on how to spot red flags in your dating relationship (ones that would be detrimental to a marriage in the future).
Ladies, it’s important to remember that marriage is a lifelong commitment before man and before God. When you enter into that covenant, it is permanent. The relationship no longer is about the feelings, the attraction, or whether you’re still “in love,” but rather it becomes about the vows, the promises, and the commitment to a lifetime together. Unfortunately, couples don’t usually ask the hard questions until after they get married! This leads to huge marital strife, disconnect, and false expectations.
The first piece of advice is to always remember that a guy is on his best behavior while dating. Whatever weaknesses he shows and whatever flaws you see most likely will be amplified in marriage, not stifled. Now of course if Jesus is the center, and confession and repentance is a habit in the relationship, then growth will certainly happen. However, it’s important to consider any flags that might show up during your dating season that are usually only the tip of the iceberg for problems in the future…
1) He wants to read your texts, have all your internet passwords, and keep tabs on what you are doing at all times. If this is the case, he probably has a controlling heart that will only grow in marriage. I was that guy before I knew Jesus. Usually this type of guy is extremely insecure and to combat that he tries to keep every possibility or piece of information in view. It’s a bad sign, and can be extremely destructive.
2) You regularly catch him looking at other women. This is a huge sign of what’s going on in his heart, mind, and soul. I wouldn’t be surprised if a guy who has a habitual wandering eye also has an addiction to pornography. It’s important to note that confronting your guy about pornography usually should be brought up only when you’re in a serious relationship, but ladies you definitely need bring it up before you tie the knot, and even get engaged (to be honest, it’s usually not an issue of if your boyfriend struggles with it, but rather how much he does).
Nothing wrecks marriages more than porn. It’s idolatry at the deepest level and causes myriad destructive problems. My advice is to prayerfully discern if he is living a life of repentance and pursuing Jesus daily, or if he is living in secret sin that he wants no one to know about. If it’s the latter, then break up with him for good. You don’t want that.
3) He doesn’t like to hang out with your friends and family, and you’re constantly struggling to convince him to hangout with your group of acquaintances. If a guy wants to go out with you and then isolate you from your family, your friends, and your peers, it’s usually because he is shady and doesn’t want to be held accountable for his actions. He knows others who aren’t blinded by the relational love will see things he doesn’t want them to see.
4) He plays the church “game” so he can date you. The biggest red flag in my opinion is if he pretends to love Jesus so you’ll like him. Do you have to babysit him (paying for his stuff, dragging him to church, etc) or does he lead like a man truly should? Does he have a fervent, growing relationship with Jesus, and even though he might mess up, does he constantly lead a lifestyle of repentance and grace? Is he quick to apologize when you two argue? Does he pray with you? Does he talk to you about the scriptures? If so, that man is a keeper. No matter how much he messes up, if his face is set towards the King of Kings then you’ve got yourself a winner! But, if he is merely a responder to spiritual things, and not an initiator, break up with him, and call the daycare to come pick him up.
Do you have any stories of seeing a red flag and getting out before it got worse? What are some other red flags not on this list?