Relationships and love can be difficult.
Learning the boundaries of oneself and how to remain centered when in the presence of a loved one is a learning curve. Nobody can be an expert at first, and so it is natural to look to sources of knowledge and others to assist in speeding up the learning curve.
It is my opinion that internet psychology and relationship advice can be exceptionally detrimental, if not outright destructive to the most important aspect of relating…and that is love.
Here are some things we should all consider before jumping in.
1. The Laundry Lists of what to look for or avoid in relationship.
Self-knowledge and healthy boundaries are natural and wise. Yet, when I see somebody running around with a checklist in their head of what makes the perfect partner, and what has to be avoided at all costs, I am seeing a person who operates from their mind and not with their heart.
Love remains an expression of heart, soul and spirit; not the mind.
Relying on lists is an epic-fail; believe in your intuition and experience.
Laundry lists of relationship dos-and-donts create expectations, demands and perceptions that can be misguided. If your love leaves clothes on the floor, it doesn’t mean they are a slob or wouldn’t grow out of it. If a woman expects a man to never walk out of an argument, that creates unnecessary pressure and makes a man wrong if he does.
Lists of relationships do and don’t present stories which may be false, and rather than relating at the core level of heart-to-heart, can keep things at a surface level. It also denies the possibilities of surprise and adventure that love can bring ; lists can create a rigid structure that, once built, can create impossible expectations and scenarios that no human can live up to.
Lists also have the possibility of over-generalizing relationships and love, and deny the opportunity for the soul to express itself in unique ways, or to grow.
2. Relating because of attraction, likes and common interests.
Love is more than a series of likes and dislikes, attraction and interests.
If attraction is based on what you like or dislike about the person, it is a setup for failure. Likes and dislikes change over time, and remain at the surface level of human expression. Common interests change, appearances change, language change.
Initial attraction may be nice, yet the qualities that cause a relationship to endure are far deeper.
The only constant is change.
So be sure to know the core personality traits that sustain and nurture you, identify what you really want in a relationship, and then live it and find those traits in another.
3. Surface level relationships rather than depth.
Qualities that cause relationships to endure are ineffable and take time to discover and see in oneself and others.
Impatient passionate love can never endure, though it may transform into a life-long romance if both partners learn to calm down and truly see one another with eyes of authenticity.
So many people share that they want enduring, loving, and even life-long relationships. This doesn’t happen over night—it takes time, and a willingness to go past oneself.
The core qualities that allow this are loyalty, faithfulness, respect, listening, speaking authentically, and patience.
Those sustain and nurture real love.
So when I see a person relating with others based on fashion trends, or merely common interests, I have to wonder about their depth of character.
4. Toxic language and lack of sensitivity.
By toxic language, I don’t mean cussing—coarse language is far different than toxic communication.
A person who complains, puts others down, demeans and humiliates people, especially their family and parents, has unresolved issues that will awaken with intimacy. Most challenges in relationship start because of language, and unloving words communicate an unloving spirit.
5. Judgmental and overly critical.
Somebody who is judgmental and overly critical about anything will eventually become judgmental and critical about you.
The assumption that the relationship will be this way or that denies it the opportunity to be its fullest and most natural expression. And when the relationship hits eventual speed bumps, judgments about how the relationship should be and isn’t will become the target of criticism.
6. Lack of humor.
Humor and the ability to take serious things with gracious spaciousness enables all involved to remain relaxed and grow through the most turbulent scenarios in life.
If the ability to take things with light-heartedness is not available, everything will become heavy and life becomes misery.
7. Inability to take personal responsibility.
The person who blames everybody else, the world, or their ex’s for the hurts and tribulations in life will eventually target their partner for all their woes.
8. Avoids the shadow-side of life.
Death, grief, accidents, and tragedies happen in life. It’s nice to believe life is always a bed of roses, yet it isn’t. If a person doesn’t have the ability to handle the darkness and pain of being alive, they may not be able to endure in relationship. And if something happens to you, they may abandon you in the time of greatest need.
9. Emotional Immaturity.
Maturity is not about age, it’s about willingness and intention.
In so many of the red-flag lists, a great deal of what is listed are the traits of immature individuals.
Surface level, so much can change for a person when they are committed, loyal and loving.
And love happens at any age. Just because that person doesn’t know how to process emotions and may need space, does not mean that they cannot and are unwilling to learn how. Youthful traits change as a person grows in wisdom and age—but to pressure somebody into conforming and changing to suit personal needs is also immature.
And again, internet laundry lists can create an air of perceived faults and expectations that focus on surface level traits rather than appreciating the deeper qualities of soul and spirit.
Entering a relationship with preconceived notions about what is wanted or not wanted denies the spirit and flow of energy and love; that is an often overlooked aspect of immaturity.
The possibility and transformation that real love gives is inaccessible when a wall of demands is present. The pre-judgment that happens when a heart has been hurt can be the most detrimental and self-sabotaging personality trait possible.
The beginners mind, everyday, allows love to blossom.
Time, patience, and wisdom in understanding human experience allows relationships to blossom. And like seasons, all relationships have cycles.
Sooner or later, the lists are set aside and love becomes the focus.
When that happens, the wish becomes true.
Bonus! One more red flag, Buddhist style:
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives