I dated the most insane person. No seriously, I really think he was crazy. At the time, he seemed great! Thanks to my friends it only took me two months to realize my prince charming was actually a frog. When I broke up with him and nearly had to call the cops because he snapped, and filed a no-contact order due to months of stalking it was clear as daylight that I had made the right decision. Yet the months leading up to that I was fogged by the newness and all those fuzzy feelings that we all enjoy in a relationship. That is why they say “love is blind,” but there is a balance in knowing what flaws to look past and what are major red flags. Since my vision was blurred my family and friends helped correct my eyesight. There were three red flags that my friends and I picked up on that helped me avoid making a HUGE mistake by comparing true love to his counterfeit love.
1) Love is not self-seeking.
I am a very driven person who loves to work and get things done. I am very much a goals and checklist person. I noticed that I wasn’t getting as much done and my friends started complaining about me falling off the map because this guy was taking so much of my time. At first, it seemed sweet. Like he just wanted to know how my day was, what I was up to,and missed me. Who doesn’t like the feeling of being missed? There is a fine line, though, between someone missing you and someone who is needy or controlling. Even after explaining the importance of my work and my personality, he would still continue to insert himself in my life in inappropriate ways. He would crash my speaking engagements, plan elaborate dates and trips all the time, always be sick or dealing with something, and anything else he could to suck my time and attention. Love is sacrificial. It places the desires of the other person ahead of their own. So if he really loved and cared about me, he would respect my work and honor my requests. He wouldn’t have guilted me when I tried to create boundaries; he wouldn’t have forced his way into my life. In time, involvement in each others life will evolve naturally, but this guy was fast-tracking everything. He was obsessed, and I felt like I was suffocating.
2) Love is not forced.
I always bring a love interest around my friends and family right away because I know that “love chemicals” mess up your judgment big time. In the past there might be a few who weren’t nuts about who I was dating, but in this case, the vast majority was getting a gut check right away and warning me. I thought maybe they just didn’t know him and it would take some time, but their feelings only grew stronger. Random people who I only knew on an acquaintance level began warning me as well. I was so confused, though, because I had received, what I perceived, as confirmation on this guy. In case you didn’t know, our enemy can hear your prayers too and twist them to guide you away from God’s will. I had never considered that. Because I thought I had confirmation from God, I tried to make it work thinking this was it. This was the guy I was supposed to marry. Believe it or not, you can be wrong, and the people closest to you will help you discern that. Don’t forget the enemy is strategic and his plot is to “kill and destroy” you. The easiest access to us is through relationships because that is when we let our guards down, become the most vulnerable, and our basic needs of love, affection, and belonging are easy to taint with a counterfeit version.
3) Love is patient.
It is a good thing to date with a marriage-minded mentality. After all, that is the purpose of dating. It is not good to rush a good thing that takes time. You wouldn’t take a cake out of the oven too soon and dig in expecting it to taste just like the fully cooked, cooled, iced, and decorated version you love right? Not unless you are a fan of warm cake batter. You might have all the best ingredients in the cake, but unless you are patient enough to let it become a delicious cake it will never be that. You will have squandered what could have been a wonderful pallet experience simply because you could not wait. Marriage and finding the right person is the same thing. It takes time. Rushing it may only ruin it. If your love is real and true, waiting will not be an issue because patience is one of the core virtues of love. In that waiting, it is also faithful. It does not have eyes for another or tend to wander. Love is consuming, and true love can only be consumed by one person. What I mean by consumption is not a harmful consuming, but a fulfilling, life-giving one. It is the difference between a wildfire and a campfire. One has purpose for warmth and providing nourishment while the other is out to destroy. It has no plan; it just moves on a whim.
That is the kind of “love” I found myself in. It was confusing because it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be figured out because it wasn’t real. It was a counterfeit. It taught me a great deal, though, and I am grateful for the people who spoke up. Don’t disregard the warnings of those around you. The enemy will tell you that their concern is disapproval and they are against you. That they just don’t understand. Trust me, they do, and they are only doing their best to protect and cherish you. Even when it is hard and not what you want to hear, listen to the people who have been the most loyal and loving with nothing to gain. They are the most important voices you have in your life. Listen to them. Your community will confirm your circumstances if they are from Christ. If they are not, then let it go.
Lexie Smith is a graduate and guest trainer of Elevate. She received a BA in Psychology from Lee University and currently resides in Nashville, TN as an active member of The Belonging Co. Church and Marketing Coordinator at Dave Ramsey Solutions.