Welcome to the third part of our series “Eight Warning Signs You Might Need to Break Up.” Regardless of whether you are in a serious dating relationship or not, today’s message shines light on people’s character and what we do with what we see others do, which is important. As with other episodes in this series, parents will also receive good tips, as this series addresses warning signs, which should be helpful as parents help their teens and young adults navigate the dating world.
Vincent and Laura are therapists, and often work with those entering the dating world. Vincent describes how many times when someone is “in love” they overlook important things. (Be sure to check our episode 064 “The Psychology of Love” to learn more about how we fall in love.)
A Character Test?
Today we look at a true character test: How they treat wait staff or service people. Although this may seem to be a very specific quality, it is very telling as to how they will treat their potential significant other. This test of their character is a window into how they may be when they let their guard down.
There is a sense of familiarity and complacency that can occur in marriage and often times spouses get taken advantage of. If you notice some of the negative behaviors mentioned today, it may be a warning sign that the person you are dating could be trouble as a spouse.
3 Behaviors to Pay Attention To
1. Attitude Towards Service People – Those Who Are Helping You
What is their attitude like with those serving them? Do they have manners? Say “please” and “thank you?” This applies to wait staff, mechanics, the cable company, internet service providers, etc. How do they treat these people in person AND on the phone? Do they treat others like REAL, breathing human beings?
Do they express gratitude towards those offering their service? Do they come across as egotistical and better than the person helping them? Do they have a sense of entitlement about the service they are receiving?
Do they seem to value the people they are receiving service from? (it sends the message that they do not value others who do things for them & may not show that they value you when you do this in the future.)
What Does This Say About Their Future Parenting?
Not only are these behaviors clues to how a person will behave as a spouse, but they also speak to how someone will be as a parent. If the person you’re dating is unable to be patient with waitstaff or other service people, how will they parent a fussy toddler?
Does the person you’re dating show that they are empathetic to waitstaff? If not, how does that bode for this person to be a future parent? NOTHING REQUIRES MORE EMPATHY THAN MARRIAGE OR PARENTHOOD!
2. Attitude Towards Those in Authority—People Who Require Them to Submit or Do Things
People in authority range anywhere from a police officer to anyone who places you in the position of having to do something (fill out paperwork, etc.) Examine how your significant other interacts with people who require something of them.
If they do not respond well, it may show you that they are not teachable, resistant and unwilling.What does this say about someone who could be a future spouse and/or parent? NOTHING MORE THAN MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD REQUIRES SOMEONE TO BE FLEXIBLE.
When someone is unbendable, they are not submitting to God and do not seek brokenness. These people do not have a broken and contrite heart. In Ephesians Paul says that when you get married you submit to one another. Vincent feels that this means that we are to be “teachable”.
Are You Taking Course 101 of Your Partner?
Laura mentions how in their marriage Vincent should be taking “Laura 101” and that she should be taking “Vincent 101,” but also that she should be taking “Laura 101” and Vincent should be taking “Vincent 101.” We are to be students of each other, but we should also study ourselves to recognize and work on our own weaknesses. The challenges of marriage are God’s way of “bending us to each other.”
Another important aspect of your significant other’s behavior is how respectful they are towards others in authority. Are they respectful to their parents? Their elders?
If you are with someone struggling with authority, they will have difficulty being a parent themselves. They will struggle with being in a position of authority and will have difficulty modeling healthy respect of authorities. Are you prepared to enter a marriage/parenthood with a person who does not model healthy respect to authority?
Do they listen to other’s ideas or points of view? How open are they to listen to differing opinions?
Vincent and Laura explain how Relationship Helpers aims at helping people to be proactive in their lives. As therapists, they often see the ramifications of people not being intentional as they enter into relationships, and have the uphill battle of trying to change unhealthy behaviors that have lasted for a long time. Their goal is to help people recognize their blindspots and to develop new skills in personal growth and with relationships.
3. Do They Flirt or Behave Too Friendly to Service People
This is the most obvious problem behavior that Vincent and Laura discuss in today’s episode. Do they behave too friendly with co-workers or people in authority?
Vincent and Laura often encounter clients who are struggling because a spouse is too friendly at church. Many times people are a little too “touchy feely” during the meet and greet time during service, or hug someone a little too long. This applies to pastors, too.
What does this say about their boundaries? It can communicate an area of vulnerability in your relationship that “users” can take advantage of. A lingering hug at church can cause tension in a relationship as one accuses the other of being too close with someone and the other then responds with “What was I supposed to do?” Justifying the behavior because they did not initiate it. They are not setting a boundary.
Vincent gives an example of someone who was in counseling because his wife was complaining about his flirtatious behavior. The lights did not really come on for this person until someone who did not know him compared him to a notorious flirt at the office.
He felt convicted when this colleague basically affirmed what his wife had been saying all along. Sometimes we don’t listen to people closest to us, and receive real revelations when we hear from those we are not so close to.
Loose Boundaries Can Lead To Affairs…
Sometimes these loose boundaries result in affairs. Many times emotional affairs. Those who have affairs often are passive and people-pleasers and are being manipulated by users. They may not be willing to make a stand on their own physical, personal boundaries.
Vincent gives the example of someone at work who goes into another person’s office and shuts the door and stays in there for an hour. To those co-workers on the outside, it creates fodder for the gossip mill which could make it to the other spouse and hurt their relationship. Nothing may have happened in the office, BUT loose boundaries were in place which is a cause for alarm. It also communicates a lack of respect for the relationship.
Some people with loose boundaries are passive, but others can be aggressive. Be aware of your significant other’s boundaries. Are they passive or aggressive about it?
Hopefully, today’s episode has been helpful in looking at some things you’ve never thought about before. Consider the questions today and how they apply to your relationship. Be sure to tune in next week as we delve into our next warning sign that you may need to break up!