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SUMMER THEME ON INTENTIONAL DATING: Recognizing Red Flags and Embracing Your Worth


 

To my Dear Single Sister,


I normally don’t start my Blogs with scripture, but I felt that this scripture needed to set the tone of where humanity is in society today and what distinct character flaws we need to avoid when dating and seeking a partner to build a life with.


The bible passages warn us in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (New International Version)

3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.


As you navigate the world of dating, it's crucial to approach it with intention and a deep understanding of your own self-worth as a child of God. It's important that we are not gullible, naive or played for a fool! In today's culture, it's easy to feel pressure to settle for less than you deserve or to overlook red flags in the hope of finding love. But as a Christian relationship coach, I am here to guide you towards intentional dating and help you recognize and receive the red flags of behavior and intentions so you can avoid unavailable men and truly embrace the love and respect you deserve. I want to empower and equip you with the tools to necessary to date healthy and strategically.


Women Intuit their Emotions


Most women possess the ability to read the body language signals of a non-verbal baby. Most women are able to detect a wide range of emotions from pain to gas, hunger, or even exhaustion. But these skills that God intuitively instilled in us, is to benefit us in more ways than just Motherhood. These almost “supernatural” abilities should bless us in our endeavors of “Wifehood” too. They should equip you to date and assess potential suiters accurately and these skills will bless you to be attentive, keeping him satisfied once the relationship begins.


It is imperative that we as women date as a realist and not for a person’s potential. The simple fact is women are not as physically as strong as men! So, women have been forced to learn to become reliant on certain nonverbal and verbal skills (both sending and receiving it) to assess the concerns or danger of a situation or relationship. The sad truth is that some of the people that are a part of the dating scene operate under deceitful intentions. Women intuit their emotions, which explains concepts of “women’s intuition”, “womanly wiles” or our keen “emotional intelligence”.


It's important that women pay attention to a man’s: actions; habits; moods; likes; dislikes; reactions; expectations; and their ability to manage, control and convey their own emotions.  Especially in comparison of how all these things align with their communicated intentions and words. Yes, we can extend grace, patience and be sensitive to a person’s situation, past or current circumstances. But if we are going to survive and even thrive without someone taking advantage of us, it will be necessary that we have astute emotional awareness, heightened sensitivity and clear-cut standards and boundaries.  We cannot choose to overlook how someone is treating us, for the sake of their chosen or how good they make us feel when things are “good”. The time for having “School Girl” butterflies and the “giddiness” of a first love, must be balanced with mature and intentional dating strategies, accompanied by adult wisdom if we want to choose a mate wisely and end up in a healthy relationship.


Sis, we are grown now, and the time for dating a man of questionable character and integrity, because he is attractive is long gone!


Tools for Our Own Emotional Wholeness


As a relationship coach with a passion for empowering women, I often encounter clients who are seeking to find and maintain healthy relationships that will lead to fulfilling marriages. Through my experiences and observations, I have come to understand that many women face internal and external challenges that prevent them from achieving their desires for a healthy and loving marriage. These challenges can range from personal insecurities and past hurts to societal pressures and unrealistic expectations.


In response to the needs of these women, I have written a Christian devotional titled, “Called to be a Wife” that seeks to guide and empower them in their journey to overcome barriers and intentionally pursue healthy relationships that will lead to marriage. This devotional is not just about finding a partner, but about becoming the best version of oneself and embracing wholeness in preparation for and to maintain a healthy heart that is required for a lifelong commitment to another person. We can want a “Healthy Love”, but the chambers of our heart are required to be healthy and emotional whole, to foster that type of love.


The foundation of this devotional is rooted in the belief that God intends for His people to experience love and companionship within the context of marriage. However, this devotional also acknowledges the reality that the path to marriage is often filled with obstacles and challenges. Many women struggle with feelings of inadequacy, fear of rejection, and a lack of clarity about their own worth. Furthermore, societal pressures and distorted views of romance can create unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment and heartache.

The first step in the journey towards healthy relationships and marriage is the decision to embrace wholeness. This means seeking healing and restoration from past wounds and acknowledging the worth and value that every individual possesses. As a relationship coach, I understand the importance of guiding women to confront and overcome the barriers that prevent them from embracing their true selves. In the devotional, I encourage women to seek inner healing and self-discovery through prayer, reflection, and self-care practices.


The devotional also provides practical tools and guidance to help women navigate the complexities of modern dating and relationships. It addresses the importance of setting healthy boundaries, cultivating self-respect, and understanding the true purpose of dating. Additionally, it offers valuable insights into effective communication, conflict resolution, and the building of emotional intimacy.



Practical Guidance of Intentional Dating



Understanding Your Worth:

First and foremost, it's essential to recognize your worth as a daughter of the Most High. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and your value doesn't come from finding a partner; it comes from the love of God. When you internalize this truth, you'll approach dating with a healthy perspective, knowing that you deserve a relationship built on mutual respect, honesty, and love. No, you are not perfect, but prayerfully you believe in accountability and are constantly striving to be better.


Know Yourself and Your Standards:

You must know exactly who you are, and why you are here! A person who does NOT know the purpose of a thing, it’s easy for them to allow it to be misused, mistreated, and mishandled. You must intimately learn yourself, your relational strengths and weaknesses, to know exactly what you desire in a mate. This will also teach you what you can compromise on, and what are your hard non-negotiables. It’s important that you know these, so when you encounter them Understand your own values, goals, and what you want in a partner. Clarity about who you are, assists you in setting emotional/relational standards, healthy boundaries and what you actually need in a mate, which helps in choosing better partners. If you operate on the dating scene with no requirements (except that their breathing) your bound to get ANYTHING!


Setting Healthy Boundaries:

Establish and communicate your boundaries early. This promotes mutual respect in the relationship for both parties and ensures you are treated the way you want to be treated. They help create an environment where each person feels like they can still be accepted for their true authentic version of themselves, and each person feels valued and understood. Discussing and setting boundaries necessitates open and honest communication. This process helps partners understand each other's needs, expectations, and limits, leading to better overall communication and a stronger emotional connection. When boundaries are clearly defined and respected, it prevents situations where one partner might feel taken advantage of or disrespected. This reduces the likelihood of resentment building up over time, which can be detrimental to the relationship. 

Clear boundaries prevent the development of codependent behaviors, where one partner relies excessively on the other for emotional support and validation. Healthy boundaries promote interdependence, where both partners support each other while maintaining their independence. Consistently respecting each other’s boundaries builds trust. Partners feel secure knowing that their boundaries will be honored, which fosters a safe and trusting relationship environment. Healthy boundaries help maintain each person’s individuality and personal identity within the relationship. They allow both partners to pursue their interests, friendships, and personal growth, preventing the relationship from becoming all-consuming.


Setting boundaries encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own emotions and actions. It helps partners understand that while they can support each other, they are not responsible for each other's happiness or well-being. Discussing boundaries early on helps determine compatibility. If partners have vastly different expectations and limits, understanding this early can save time and emotional investment, allowing both individuals to make informed decisions about the relationship’s future. Knowing that boundaries are respected creates an emotionally safe space for both partners. This safety encourages vulnerability, deeper emotional intimacy, and a stronger bond between partners.


Recognizing Red Flags:

When you're dating, it's crucial to be attentive to red flags that may indicate potential problems in a relationship and that someone is not ready or willing to offer you the love and commitment you deserve. Some common red flags include inconsistency in communication, reluctance to commit, lack of respect, and a pattern of broken promises. It's important to remember that the way someone treats you in the early stages of a relationship often reflects how they will treat you in the long run.


Here are some important Red Flags to Avoid:


1. Lack of Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. If your partner consistently avoids meaningful conversations or is unwilling to discuss important issues, it can signal deeper communication, emotional, intellectual or spiritual problems.


2. Dishonesty

Honesty is vital for trust. If you catch your partner in lies or if they seem secretive about their life, it's a major red flag. Transparency and honesty are essential for a trustworthy foundational base of any relationship.


3. Disrespect

Disrespect can manifest in many ways, such as belittling comments, ignoring your boundaries, or not valuing your opinions. Mutual respect is foundational for a healthy relationship.


4. Controlling Behavior

We live in a crazy world sis… And I teach and preach relational accountability and believe that no woman or man should be with a partner that they don’t have enough respect for, to offer them transparent accountability. I make sure that my husband knows where I am at all times. But a partner who tries to control where you go, who you see, or what you do is exhibiting a major red flag. Healthy relationships are built on mutual trust and respect for each other's autonomy, judgement and individualism. You and/or your relationship can never grow if it is stifled!


5. Jealousy and Possessiveness

Let’s be honest, while a little jealousy can be normal and even flattering… And each partner should be open to the other sexes point of view concerning a person or activity. But excessive jealousy and possessiveness can be a sign of insecurity and control issues. This behavior can escalate into more serious problems over time. Let’s embrace a healthy version of love, not extreme attempts from a “Broken Man” to establish and maintain his control, masqueraded as love.


I started being submissive to my husband while we were dating seriously, to convey what it would be like for me to be his wife. Because worked to establish trust and transparency, it allowed for each partners transparency and heathy relational accountability to remove any need for jealousy or possessiveness.


6. Lack of Emotional Availability

If your partner is emotionally distant or unavailable, it can hinder the development of a deep, meaningful connection. Emotional availability is crucial for intimacy and bonding. Recognizing signs that your partner is emotionally distant or unavailable is crucial for understanding potential issues in your relationship. Emotional availability is essential for intimacy and bonding, and without it, a deep, meaningful connection can be hindered.


Here are some signs that your partner may be emotionally distant or unavailable:


a. Lack of Emotional Expression

Your partner rarely shares their feelings, whether they are positive or negative. They seem uncomfortable with emotional conversations or shut down when asked about their emotions.


b. Avoidance of Intimacy

They may avoid physical or emotional closeness, including hugging, kissing, or having deep, intimate conversations. They might seem distant or detached during intimate moments.


c. Reluctance to Commit

They hesitate to make plans for the future or commit to long-term goals and discussions about the future of your relationship. This reluctance can indicate a fear of emotional investment.


d. Limited Communication

Your partner may engage in superficial conversations and avoid discussing deeper issues or personal topics. They might be more comfortable talking about day-to-day events rather than sharing their thoughts and feelings.


e. Indifference to Your Feelings

They show little interest or concern for your emotions and experiences. They might dismiss your feelings or fail to provide emotional support when you need it.


f. Inconsistent Behavior

Their behavior towards you is unpredictable. They may be affectionate and caring at times, but then suddenly become distant and uninterested without any clear reason.


g. Preoccupation with Other Activities

They might be overly focused on work, hobbies, or other activities to the point where they neglect the relationship. This preoccupation can be a way to avoid emotional intimacy.


h. Defensiveness

When confronted about their emotional distance, they become defensive or dismissive. They may deny that there is a problem or blame you for being too needy or emotional.


i. Lack of Effort

They put minimal effort into maintaining the relationship. This lack of effort can manifest as not planning dates, forgetting important events, or failing to engage in meaningful activities together.


j. Emotionally Unavailable Background

A history of unstable relationships, childhood trauma, or unresolved past issues can contribute to emotional unavailability. If your partner has a pattern of avoiding deep connections, it might be a red flag.


k. Physical Absence

They frequently spend time away from you, whether it's working late, going out with friends, or finding other reasons to be apart. This physical distance can reflect emotional distance.


l. Difficulty with Vulnerability

They have a hard time being vulnerable and open with you. Vulnerability is key to emotional intimacy, and an inability to be vulnerable can create a barrier in the relationship.

 

7. Avoidance of Commitment

If your partner avoids discussions about the future or shows reluctance to commit, it may indicate they are not as invested in the relationship as you are. You cannot be the ONLY person in a committed relationship with a person who acts or who has communicated intentions to remain single.


8. Inconsistent Behavior

Inconsistent behavior, such as frequent mood swings or unpredictability in actions and words, can create an unstable and stressful relationship environment.


9. Excessive Criticism

Constructive feedback is healthy, but excessive criticism can damage self-esteem and create a toxic atmosphere. A partner who constantly criticizes you may be undermining your confidence and worth.


10. Past Relationship Drama

If your partner frequently mentions their exes or appears to have unresolved feelings from previous relationships, it could indicate they're not prepared for a new, committed relationship. As someone who was widowed for six years before remarrying, I understand the importance of consciously removing references to my late spouse from conversations. It's unreasonable to expect a new partner to feel like the center of your world if they feel they're in competition with a memory.


11. Isolation from Friends and Family

A partner who discourages you from spending time with your friends and family may be trying to isolate you. Healthy relationships encourage maintaining other important connections.


12. Physical or Emotional Abuse

Any form of abuse, whether physical, emotional, or verbal, is a clear red flag. Abuse should never be tolerated, and it's crucial to seek help and remove yourself from the situation if it occurs.


13. Addictive Behaviors

If your partner has issues with substance abuse or other addictive behaviors and is not seeking help, it can severely impact the relationship and your well-being.


14. Lack of Support

A healthy partner should be supportive of your goals and dreams. If they belittle your ambitions or fail to support you during difficult times, it indicates a lack of empathy and care.


15. Boundary Violations

Respecting each other's boundaries is essential. If your partner consistently crosses your boundaries despite your objections, it shows a lack of respect for your needs and comfort.



Avoiding Unavailable Men

One of the biggest challenges in dating is recognizing and avoiding unavailable men. Whether they are emotionally unavailable, still healing from past relationships, or not ready for a committed relationship, these men can lead you to emotional turmoil and heartache. It's crucial to recognize the signs of unavailability early on and to have the strength and wisdom to walk away from relationships that do not serve you.


Embracing Intentional Dating

Intentional dating is about approaching relationships with clarity, purpose, and a commitment to your own well-being. You need to date strategically, the same way that you would study for, research and interview for a job in your career. It means setting healthy boundaries, communicating your needs and expectations, and being open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you navigate the dating world. Instead of passively accepting whatever comes your way, intentional dating empowers you to make conscious choices about the kind of relationships you want to cultivate.


Trusting in God's Plan

As you journey through the world of dating, it's important to trust in God's plan for your life. Sometimes, the path to finding the right partner may be filled with detours, heartaches, and lessons. But through it all, God is shaping you, preparing you, and guiding you towards the love and partnership that aligns with His will for your life. Trust in His timing and His wisdom, and let your faith be the anchor that sustains you through the highs and lows of dating.


Receiving Godly Counsel

Seeking guidance from wise and godly individuals can provide invaluable support as you navigate the complexities of dating. Whether it's mentors, pastors, or trusted friends, surrounding yourself with individuals who can offer biblical wisdom and insight can help you gain clarity and perspective on your relational journey. Their counsel can help you discern red flags, recognize God's voice, and make empowered decisions in your dating life. Remember that no one knows everything, nor is an island all to himself.


Choosing Self-Respect

At the core of intentional dating is the choice to prioritize self-respect and self-worth. This means being unafraid to walk away from relationships that compromise your values, disregard your boundaries, or undermine your well-being. Choosing self-respect may not always be easy, but it is a powerful statement of your belief in God's love for you and His desire for you to be in a fulfilling and respectful relationship.

In conclusion, my dear single sisters, I encourage you to embrace intentional dating with a spirit of faith, wisdom, and confidence in God's love for you. By recognizing and receiving the red flags of behavior and intentions, you can avoid settling for less than you deserve and pave the way for a relationship that honors God and blesses you in equal measure. Please receive that healthy relationships exist, which means that healthy dating is how you strategically arrive there!


Remember, you are a precious daughter of the King, and your worth and dignity are non-negotiable. Trust in His plan, seek His guidance, and walk with confidence, knowing that the love story He has written for you is one of grace, respect, and joy.


Journey with me to the very heart of Wifehood,



Your Sister in Love,


Author Adia Dozier



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