I have a friend who lived on the west coast. She called to let me know that she would be moving across the country to Virginia to live closer to a guy she recently started to date. Let's call him Buster. When they met, Buster was riding the bus. My friend offered to let Buster borrow her car for an extended period of time, and returned home without her car. She called me and said, "Buster hasn't spoken to me in the three weeks since I told him that I'm moving to Virginia; I think he's depressed about something." The day before she arrived, she informed me that she would need a ride from the airport because Buster refused to pick her up... in her car! A few weeks after her move, she asked me to drop her off at Buster's apartment one morning. We went to the apartment complex, her car was there, she knocked on the paper thin door, no answer. She knocked harder, no answer. She banged on the door for five more minutes, still no answer. He was obviously "busy." I then invited my friend to hang out with my son and me at Chuck E Cheese. Two hours later, Buster called. I knew that my friend had had enough of Buster and I was about to remind her that we were surrounded by kiddies at Chuck E Cheese before she "went off." To my dismay, my friend started the conversation by saying "Honey, you sleep so hard..."
Many of us choose to ignore the obvious because we want those unhealthy, hopeless relationships to work out. I am no exception.
I met Cyber Prince Charming on the Internet. I wasn't even a member of this dating site, but while surfing the web, I decided to take a look at the site and I saw a gorgeous guy. Curiosity got the best of me, I had to find out if he was a real person or a stock photo added to the site to entice women. I joined the site just long enough for him to respond to me and then I cancelled my membership. He was more beautiful in person! I could not believe my good fortune. He had a promising career, a beautiful home, a master's degree, a brand new sports car, a wonderful personality, and professed to be Christian. He had retired from boxing, but retained that boxer's physique and trained others in his spare time.
After we began dating, he started to exhibit some disturbing behavior. I would often perform nice gestures, just because, and he would call me yelling angrily, "Why are you being so nice to me?!" I figured he had been in unhealthy relationships and just needed time to adjust to someone treating him well. I decided to let these outbursts slide.
Once when I returned from a business trip, he picked me up from the airport. I had my purse and other toiletries in a carry-on tote. I took the tote with me into the restroom after the flight. Towering over me when I emerged from the restroom, he yelled "Why did you take that bag with you?" and then accused me of texting another man in the restroom. I remembered that he had recently dumped his prior girlfriend after viewing a videotape of her cheating on him. I knew he had trust issues, so I decided to let the incident slide.
The next incident was a conversation we had where he told me that he needed to be assured that if we got married and he died that I would not only refuse to remarry, but he would need me to mourn for the rest of my life and wear black until my death. Well, I look good in black, so I agreed to this request.
Cyber Prince Charming would always state that once he got married, he had to have four children. I thought it was admirable that he was so fond of kids and wanted to have a large family. He later revealed that he would have to insist that I have four kids, because no other man would want me with that many children, and he wouldn't have to worry about me leaving him for another man. I understood that he had abandonment issues that stemmed from being sent to boarding school at a young age, and I let the incident slide.
I have a strong belief in God and wanted to date someone with similar views. Cyber Prince Charming believed in God but didn't have an active prayer life and didn't attend church. I rationalized that this was a result of him not being exposed to great churches. He always found a reason to not visit my church when I invited him. Well, he had this amazing tattoo that referenced God. Shouldn't that count for something?
Once he came to my house in the afternoon and asked me to prepare dinner. He said he had to run an errand and would return that evening. I dashed to the grocery store, bought the foods he liked, and cooked dinner. He never showed up. I started to worry. Maybe he had become ill, maybe he was in a car accident, maybe he was arrested- with all the racial profiling going on, maybe he was mistaken for a thug, maybe he was taking some "me" time to reflect on our relationship. Maybe...I later noticed that he was logged on to a social networking website during what should have been our date.
After his year-long errand, I called to find out what happened. He apologized for standing me up, said he had matured since then, yada, yada, yada and stated that he wanted another chance. Being the forgiving person that I am, I agreed. We started dating again. We hung out one afternoon and planned to meet back up that evening. He asked me to cook dinner. Again, I dashed to the grocery store and prepared a meal of his favorite foods. I never saw or heard from him again.
I decided to stop making excuses for my boyfriend. Cyber Prince Charming didn't want me to be nice to him because he had a distorted view of how he should be treated, he didn't want me to take my tote into the restroom because he was jealous, he didn't want me to remarry upon his death because he was controlling, he stood me up because he was inconsiderate, and the tattoo was not a proclamation of his religious beliefs, it was just a tattoo. Do you recognize yourself in the above fact pattern? Are you busy making excuses for your boyfriend's behavior?
Critically acclaimed author and poet, Maya Angelou, has a profound quote that says when people show you who they are, believe them. This quote is so insightful because many of us have a tendency to excuse inexcusable behavior. We don't want to believe that our better halves are really our worse halves. We tell ourselves that their inappropriate behavior is uncharacteristic of who they really are, they were just having a bad day/week/month/year, "Buster's not using me for my car, he's just having hard times," when in actuality their behavior is simply a reflection of who they are. I learned this lesson the hard way. The guy who mistreats you the first time is the same person the second and third time you take him back.
How do you know when the person you're dating is genuinely a good person? The bible offers us guidance here. Matthew 7:16 says you will know a tree by its fruit. Meaning, a person's behavior will reflect his core values. Look at your boyfriend's "fruit." Is he loving and supportive, active in his community? Or does he curse you out, not return your calls, get suspended/arrested, "borrow" your allowance or checkbook without your knowledge? You must carefully evaluate his "fruit." What sort of fruit should your boyfriend possess? Galatians 5:22 lists the following characteristics as fruits of the spirit: