Do We Blind Ourselves When We Date?

They say "love is blind," and that's often true.

 

We are so enthralled with our new romance, we don't see the worrisome aspects of our partner's character. We love being in love, so when we see troubling red flags we try to pretend they mean something less negative.

For example,

    • —Have you ever brushed off your new partner's insensitive comments and rudeness and told yourself he (or she) is just free-wheeling and refreshingly honest?
    • —Have you ever minimized the new friend's desire to text constantly—day and night—asking how you are, and tell yourself he (or she) is in love and is interested in your life?
    • —Do you feel uncomfortable when they flirt with someone else, yet minimize it by telling yourself they are just lively, energetic, and happy?

(For 49 examples see below.)

 

Where Did We Learn to Lie to Ourselves?

How did we learn to ignore our instincts? What teachings pressured us to sweep bad behavior under the carpet?

Some of it may be our own feelings of infatuation, our self-doubt, our desire to be in a relationship, or the modeling or instruction from our parents. But it may also come from religious messages promoted by our pastors, Christian speakers, and Christian marriage books.

 

Theresa's Story 

Theresa wrote: "I was a wife who wanted to do everything that a Godly wife should do to keep her husband and marriage happy. Early in my Christianity, I went to many women's conferences and workshops to learn how I should be and act being as I had no role model from my home. One particular seminar included the following list. NOW I can see how I indoctrinated myself into accepting the emotion and verbal abuse that I enduring under the name of Jesus. See if you can identify yourself in this. We were taught that in order to 'accept' our husband and make him happy, we needed to turn any negative trait/characteristic into a positive one and accept him for his faults. The problem is that we were never advised when to recognize it as abuse.

 

Due to this teaching, abuse went unrecognized, was rampant and I did not consider it abuse. Looking back, perused my computer files, I saw this and was amazed that I had encouraged women (early in my own marriage) to remain faithful to their mates because of what I was learning. I have asked God's forgiveness for my ignorance.  [Note: The following list has been lightly edited for clarity.]

 

Messages That Cause Us to Override Our Instincts and Misinterpret Dangerous Traits

The first column is the actual negative behavior. The second column is how we were taught to excuse it, minimize it, or reframe it.

 

 

Dangerous or Worrisome traits How we Reinterpret These into Good, Safe, and Pleasant Traits
• Spendthrift, overspends He/she is generous
• Jealous He/she is protective and really cares about me
• Possessive He/she is concerned, devoted, loyal
• Arrogant, conceited He/she is self-assured
• Immature, childish He has boyish charm; She’s so cute
• Stubborn He/she is persistent
• Dominating/controlling He/she is strong minded
• Insecure He/she is vulnerable
• Uncompromising He/she is self-disciplined
• Tightwad He/she is conservative, economical in finances
• Fastidious He/she is discriminating
• Compulsive He/she is faithfulness, persistence, steadfastness
• Abusive/likes to fight He/she is competitive
• Moody He/she is emotional
• Critical He/she is analytical minded
• Non-demonstrative He/she is stoic, calm, tranquil, not easily ruffled
• Hot head/ irritable He/she is excitable
• Instigator He/she is motivator
• Nosy, intrusive He/she is inquisitive minded, he/she likes me and wants to know me better
• Suspicious He/she is concerned

 

After I posted Theresa’s list on my private Facebook page, people added more traits and examples of how we minimize, reinterpret, or gaslight our observations.
Here are a few more.

Dangerous or Worrisome traits How we Reinterpret These into Good, Safe, and Pleasant Traits
Manipulative He/she is creative
Irresponsible He/she is fun loving
Foolish He/she is exciting and thrill-seeking
Sex addict/Sex offender He/she had problems in the past, but marriage will fix them.
Insensitive to others He/she “tells it like it is.”
Impulsive He/she is a free spirit
Rude He/she is authentic
Angry He/she has emotional outbursts
Insults good people He/she is open and honest
Deceptive He/she is a free thinker!
Subversive He/she thinks outside the box
Secretive He/she is open to new opportunities
Lying He/she explores alternate facts
Triangulating other people to gang up against you He/she is a team builder
Financial abuser (uses family rent/grocery money for their own wants) He/she is investing for the future. Or he/she wants to lift the family status.
Menacing, Intimidating He/she’s just intense.
Hypocritical He/she learns by trial and error
Desertion He/she is building a new future
Drug/alcohol problem He/she only drinks to relax and have fun; can stop anytime; doesn’t affect their job/school/family life
Pedophile He/she loves being around kids, it brings out their fun-loving nature. They're just a kid at heart
Watches porn He’s a normal virile red-blooded man
Displays weapons; points gun at you A manly man (or a no-nonsense woman) who is confident.  Good protector.
Gives you the silent treatment He/she is just quiet and non-talkative
Controlling He/she is a good manager who keeps a close eye on your every need and emotion
Fails to keep promises He/she is afraid of confrontation. Or, They’ve got a lot on their mind.
Fails to mention important information He/she is just forgetful
Ignores important holidays, especially your birthday He/she isn’t good at planning
Mean, contemptuous, bullying He/she has high standards
Stonewalls, doesn’t talk about options to solve major problems He/she could make decisions faster if you don't pressure them.
Falsifies achievements in sports or schools or jobs He/she exaggerates a little.

 

When we see a problem, we have a lot of options on how to deal with it. Some common ones include: Denial, Self-Blame, or Revelation. See pages 370-379 in my book, The Life-Saving Divorce.  Or eBook: https://amzn.to/3CCBsnr

 

Are you going through a life-saving divorce and need support and clarity? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 4 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book on divorce for Christians and other people of faith, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback: https://amzn.to/3cF1j25  Or eBook: https://amzn.to/3CCBsnr

Also, sign up for my email list below or HERE www.lifesavingdivorce.com/courage

 

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