Addictions: Again, give it time, and these will become apparent. Whether it’s to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, cigarettes, violence, drama or whatever, you can only miss the signs if you commit before allowing them to become apparent.

Relationship With The Law: Is your relationship prospect an absolutely law-abiding citizen? Does he or she specialize in trying to get away with breaking the law (even the little ones) without getting caught? Is their definition of “legal” that they’ve never been convicted? Or have they adopted frequent interaction with law enforcement and the criminal justice and penal systems as an acceptable or unavoidable lifestyle? Again, you don’t have to take anyone’s word for it. Unless you insist on operating “eyes-wide shut,” there’s no way you can’t know if you’ll just pay attention and give it time.

How They Treat People: Do they consistently operate with kindness, compassion, honesty and respect? Do they run hot and cold, depending on mood, circumstances and the person they are dealing with? Or are they consistently deceitful, careless, dispassionate or cruel? However they treat others is ultimately how they will treat you. Do not allow yourself to believe that your love, or their feelings for you, will make you the exception.

Ambitions, Goals and Priorities: Does he or she have any? Have they adopted lifestyles, habits and choices that are actually moving them toward their goals, or is it just wishing, talking and dreams with no action? More importantly, are their goals and priorities compatible or in conflict with yours? For example, if you dream of having a house full of kids, and she’s set on becoming the CEO of a multibillion-dollar corporation, it will take more than your strong mutual attraction to make it work. If you are not absolutely sure about where he or she is taking their life, do not find yourself tied to them as an unwilling “passenger” by premature sexual, financial or emotional intimacy.

Do not just take their word for it. Trust only what you learn for yourself, by observation, or through reliable, unbiased sources. Until you know the answers to the above about a person, you do not know who they are. Do not become sexually intimate. Do not give or lend money, or take on joint financial obligations. Do not invite them to your home, nor accept invitations to theirs (or to any place where you are alone with them). Do not become emotionally intimate or dependent—share your most treasured memories, highest hopes, most painful experiences and deepest fears grudgingly, if at all.

How long should you wait? Forget artificial timetables such as the “90-day rule.” Just remember this: The right person is worth the wait; the wrong person is never worth the risk. Take as long as necessary to learn the absolute truth about a person, in order to make healthy, self-loving decisions about his or her place in your life—or until you get tired of waiting. If you don’t have absolute clarity by then, a relationship is not worth the risk. Move on. Bypass anyone who resents or resists your efforts to learn what you need to know to protect yourself. There is a world of interesting people worth getting to know. At least one of them will be qualified for loving in the Grown Zone. 

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