December 2, 2020

How to tell if a Relationship is Healthy (or if we’re Blinded by Love, Lust & Unmet Needs).


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So this feels like your dream guy, girl, or heart’s desire, huh?

It may be a drop-dead-gorgeous person who has a great career, makes excellent money, and shares your same values.

Perhaps it is the fantastic job, with the perfect benefits, a fantastic starting rate, a great parking spot, shares and stocks in the company, public acclaim, and all kinds of “perks” beyond your wildest dreams.

Whatever the case may be, it appears to be “too good to be true,” certainly “too good to pass up.” It looks like everything you have ever hoped, wanted, and longed for your entire life. So why would (should) you hesitate and pause for self-reflection about it?

Reputation or Character?

“When people show you who they are, believe them.” ~ Maya Angelou

When it comes to human beings, are we more taken by image or truth? What is more important to us: a person’s reputation or a person’s character?

Scripture’s take on Dr. Angelou’s statement also goes a little something like this:

“You will know them by their fruit.” ~ Matthew 7:16

It’s the same idea as, “Actions speak louder than words.” “Put up or shut up.”

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

That kind of thing.

This is where we often betray our hearts, gut instincts, and intuitive natures. Love, lust, and unmet needs can often blind us to some serious red flags about a person.

In short, when it’s concerning our welfare, as well as our hearts, we need to ask ourselves: are they safe?

“Good on paper” often likes to gloss over the uncomfortable answer to this question. An image, a promise, an unspoken expectation may be, in fact, too alluring for us to see a situation clearly.

This, therefore, is where feeling can come in. How do we really feel about him or her? Be honest.

How we feel is not merely emotional; it can be physical as well.

How does something register with our stomach? Do we get a dry mouth? Do we lose the ability to think and speak up for ourselves because we are in shock from another person’s behaviors?

Here are some basic questions that need to be asked concerning our feelings (often showing up within us physically):

1. Is this person honest?

2. Can we trust them?

3. What is their temper like?

4. Are they risk-taking in their behavior, making us feel uncomfortable about their choices?

5. Will this person commit to being there for me? 

6. What does that look like? (And what does that look like for him or her?)

7. Is this person participating in healthy or unhealthy behaviors and choices? (Do they abuse drugs and alcohol? Where do they stand on any addictive tendencies?)

8. Is this person good to me?

9. Is this person good for me?

10. Does this person have his or her own agenda? (Are there ulterior motives for his or her presence in my life?)

11. Is this relationship a one or a two-way street? (Is reciprocity here?)

12. Is this person merely “good on paper” only, or does he or she have the goods to back up their promises?

Count the Cost.

“Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it?” ~ Luke 14:28

Weighing. Pros and cons. Self-reflection. Scripture, again, has shown up, offering guidance and perspective.

And it is all about weighing the cost of something. Practical. And, sometimes, lifesaving.

“Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it?” ~ Luke 14:28

When you and I are presented with an opportunity, in any form, it calls for us to make a decision about it. This is no time to be passive, especially when, again, it looks to be too good to pass up. Whether it is an actual deadline or merely time waiting for no one to catch up with it, each of our choices has consequences.

Therefore, it would be in our best interest to be thoughtful and conscious about that sobering reality.

“Good on paper,” again, challenges us to look beyond face value at that “good thing.” Is it really good? Or are there some hidden cons lurking under its surface?

Some of us out there have made the pros and cons list, measuring between the two options, observing which column looks better for our lives. That’s a great baseline.

I think it needs to be followed with more pointed questions concerning the value of said “valuable, too good to pass up” thing.

Questions, perhaps, like:

1. Will this particular “wish fulfillment” opportunity be there for me long-term? What does that look like for me? 

2. Does this opportunity create and instill healthy or unhealthy behaviors and choices for me?

3. Will this opportunity create conflicts of interest, temptations, and personal costs that are too high for me? (What are those costs? Am I willing to pay them?)

4. Do I want this, or do I only think I want it?

5. Is this opportunity merely “good on paper,” or does it have the goods to back up its promises?

The Power of the Witness.

These questions ask, and possibly answer, as much about us as they do the “good on paper” thing we are contemplating.

“…In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” ~ Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1

Our hearts can be one witness. Our gut instinct can be another. Objective facts and statistics can be still another. And the feedback from other people and assorted entities, yes, can also weigh in.

What do you and I believe upon obtaining this feedback from more than one source, on more than one occasion? 

Are you and I paying attention? 

Or are we ignoring the signs, choosing to go full steam ahead with someone or something that may be harmful to us in the long run?

It’s not to promote fear; it’s about engaging in thoughtfulness and wisdom, doing what is truly best for us. Critical thinking, because, after all, our lives are that important, worth doing this work.

“Good on paper” can, in the end, only bring us ripped paper. We need to be mindful of that.

However, making deliberate, healthy, and loving choices can, indeed, bring us life, love, and the true things we desire.

Choose well.


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