Warning: naughty language!
When I see red flags and enforce my own boundaries, I automatically feel like a bitch.
I wish I didn’t feel this way, and I blame a lifetime of sexist double standards for this feeling. For instance, when we as women are assertive in a business environment, we’re made to feel that we’re being aggressive, confrontational or bitchy when the exact same response by a man gets him praise for good leadership skills. And as women we’ve spent our entire lives being praised for nurturing and for generally putting every single person in the history of the world in front of ourselves.
So when I try to maintain healthy boundaries for myself and change how I approach relationships, it’s natural that I’d feel like a bitch for doing it.
I’m the girl who always wants to give second (and third and fourth) chances. I want to believe the best of every person. I want to think that maybe I misjudged someone when I react to what is clearly a red flag. Oftentimes, this has been the mentality that has led to me being hurt—because I freely gave those chances, ignored red flags and kept thinking the best of people who were showing me again and again exactly what type of people they truly were.
I’m learning to honor my intuition. When we honor our intuition, we learn to be attuned to all of the red flags in our lives. It’s not like we’re looking for the bad in everything, but we do become more sensitive to it when it’s there.
Red flags abound in the dating world. As a single mother in my 30s, I work hard to heed the red flag warnings because I don’t worry just about my own heart; I also have my children’s hearts to worry about, and I cannot afford to involve anyone in my life who might not be a good fit for any of our hearts.
Let me just pause to say that red flags don’t equal bad people. I’m not judging the other person here, other than whether or not they are good for me, specifically. I’ve dated many men who I thought were wonderful people, just perhaps not for me.
Now, our work as women becomes feeling confident about leading with our intuition, which may mean ignoring societal pressure to give those chances and to put everyone else before ourselves. For me, it means I might just have to feel like a bitch for a day or two because that feeling is deeply programmed into me, and if I give it time and continue to honor my intuition, it will pass.
When we live authentic, courageous lives, society isn’t going to give us a round of applause.
We will most certainly encounter resistance to our paths. But we’ll also be rewarded by the universe for continuing to do what is right for our own hearts.
In recent interactions in the dating world, I’ve begun to quickly catch on to signs that people that I’m talking to or dating may not be for me. I pay attention to what people say and do, and I often find red flags. Some red flags may need more investigation to understand where they’re coming from and if they’ll truly be an issue down the road. Other red flags are simply deal-breakers. I understand my own value, and I know what I can and cannot deal with in a relationship. This is how I honor my gut feeling—my deep intuition about others.
I find that this attitude saves time, but it can also be a bit painful. That “Am I being a bitch?” feeling pops up because I have been conditioned to allow others to treat me however they like without regard for my own needs and my own spirit. I find that this thought pattern really isn’t about whether or not I’m a bitch; in fact, I know that I’m not because I always try to deal with these situations kindly. Instead, this speaks to a lack of confidence in following my path.
I’m not used to following my intuition so diligently, and it’s a wild and unfamiliar territory for me. But we have to learn to trust the territory of our intuition, to follow it where it leads and to be confident in our decisions along that path. When we truly lean in to that trust and start recognizing all of the signs along the way, we will find ourselves rewarded in ways that we could not previously imagine!
Every time I take that difficult path of my own intuition, I find that I struggle less in the long run as my life becomes more authentic to my needs and to my very soul.
Although leading with our intuition may earn us the “bitch” label from society—from potential lovers, and from our own thoughts—we know that this path is the one that will take us where we need to go: toward a life that is felt deeply and is true to our journey. Toward a love that is exactly what we need when we need it. Toward a peace that we won’t have as long as we’re living out the lives others think we should.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Alexandre Pereira/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman; Katarina Tavčar