So, you’ve found this guy and he seems like he is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with – but you have doubts creeping in. Is this guy worth my time? Is he ever going to change? Is this normal behaviour, or should I expect more? Is he the problem, or is it me?
While I can’t discuss every scenario (because there are so, so many!), here are 4 relationship cues that will tell you if your man is Mr. Wrong, or perhaps even Mr. Not Right Now.
He Doesn’t Want to Make Your Relationship Public
You are head over heels for this guy – he’s everything you imagined. You can’t wait until the next time you see him again because every moment feels like a dream. He makes you laugh and smile all the time, and you have an endless supply of things to talk about.
But there’s just this one little thing that’s bothering you. He does seem really interested in you, yet, while you have pretty much handed your heart to him on a silver platter, he doesn’t seem to want to take the relationship to the next level. “It’s just not the right time,” he keeps saying. When you are out, he introduces you as “his friend,” but the way he talks to you, texts you, and treats you when no one he knows is around suggests so much more. Right now you’re convinced he’s worth the wait, but – what is he waiting for?
Why won’t he admit that he’s in a relationship?
I was in a similar situation with a guy once. We wrote and wrote and wrote. Almost every day. My heart would beat with excitement every time I saw his message come through on MSN messenger (you all remember MSN messenger, right? No? Okay, showing my age), and as his conversations were filled with flirtatious fun, I guessed he felt the same about me. When my dad heard about this guy and the things he was saying, he glowered. “If a guy is talking to you like that after a few weeks and he’s not your boyfriend, he’s talking to other girls like that too,” he grumbled.
..and you know what? He was right. That guy was talking to 4 different other girls at the same time. When I actually out and asked him how he felt about me, he told me he liked me, but he was waiting to see if he could get back with his ex. He did, she dumped him again, and he started to reconnect with me as a potential rebound. Thankfully I was a little wiser by then (honestly, who wants to be anyone’s second choice?) and gave him a swift kick in the right direction (away from me).
Was this an isolated incident? Apparently not. In the March 2016 edition of Her World Singapore, 19 “bad boys” wrote in to spill all their secrets for how to tell if a guy was playing you. 6 of these 19 guys wrote about how if a guy is quick to be gushy but not open about the relationship with his friends and family, he’s playing you and trying to keep his options open.
If a guy is really worth your time, he won’t leave you dangling. He won’t be spouting sonnets in secret and then be reluctant to show you to others. He will proudly announce you as his one and only love interest, show you to his friends and family, and place his banner of love over you.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love (Song of Solomon 2:4)
He Lowers Your Self Esteem
It’s just little things. He’ll poke at your belly and tell you you’re gaining weight, or ask you if you should be eating that chocolate bar. You guess he’s only looking out for you or just joking around and, well, you believe that what he says is true anyway. You realise that you probably do need to go to the gym more and feel guilty every time you eat anything sweet. He praise you when you lose weight, but tells you that you still have some more to go. You feel like you’re really just lucky to have him and that anyone else would want a girl like you.
This situation is all too common. So many girls have a low self-esteem and feel that having a boyfriend will make them feel validated. But then they find this guy who at first makes them feel amazing, but slowly little things come up that they aren’t happy with.
This was me. Always the awkward teenager, I felt unattractive and unwanted. I hadn’t had any guys I was interested in take any romantic interest in me and, really, I felt like none of them had reason to. Why would they? I was the ugly duckling. When I did have my first boyfriend, at first he would tell me I was very beautiful, but slowly that changed. He would poke at my belly and tell me to lose more. I would lose it, and he would tell me the areas that were still a problem for him. I was wasting away and developing an extremely unhealthy relationship with food (starving myself) to the point that those who cared about me were worried, and he kept poking me in the belly telling me there was more of me to lose. Eventually, I woke up, realised I was worth more than that, and ended the relationship.
If a guy makes your self-esteem lower than it was previously, it’s a sign that he’s no good for you. Your body is going to change over the course of marriage with babies and time, so if he’s saying these things now it’s not a good sign! Your partner should lift you up, and make you “feel like you’re the only girl in the world,” a “lily among the brambles.”
“Shulamite: I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. Solomon: As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women” (Song of Solomon 2:1, 2).
He’s Looking at Other Women While He’s With You
You can’t help but notice. At first, you thought you were being paranoid, but it’s happened too many times now for you to ignore it. A short skirt walks by and his eyes will quickly dart up and down those long legs. He denies it, tells you to stop being so paranoid, or says he can’t help it – it’s instinctual. You feel a bit uncomfortable with it, but you see it happen all the time in the movies, and the magazine tells you to stop being so controlling, so it’s really too much to ask for him to stop, right?
Although the world will tell you that men must and should look at multiple women, they are looking at things from a worldly perspective. They do not have a worldview shaped by God. We live in such a porn-saturated culture that most men don’t even realise they have no control over their eyes in public. To chase little bits of flesh throughout the day is nothing to what most of them see on their screens in their private time.
Yet, Jesus plainly said:
“I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
I honestly suggest that every young woman asks the guy before she starts dating him (or very early on) if he has a porn problem. If you are in a relationship, married or dating, and you haven’t asked this – ask it now. It’s such a prevalent problem, even among Christian men. It’ll cause heartache for you in the future. Marriage does not solve porn problems – intentional purity does. Encourage guys struggling to get help. There are so many caught up in this that porn. If your guy is chasing skirts with his eyes or looking at porn, he may be Mr. Wrong and there’s absolutely no doubt he’s a Mr. Not Right Now.
“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1).
He Tries to Push You to Compromise on Your Morals
He knows you have standards, but he’s always looking for ways to push the boundaries. He doesn’t see any reason why you should be so strict. He keeps bring up what seem like logical arguments or mistakes from your past, telling you, you aren’t so good anyway, so why try now? It’s so hard to keep battling. You want to keep your morals, but it gets tiresome being the only one holding them up, and with his constant badgering, you’re not sure how long you can hold this up. Besides, you want to be with him too. He says it’s because he loves you so much. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to compromise, I mean, he wants to marry you one day anyway, right?
Let me tell you, if a guy can’t respect your conscience, he isn’t good husband material. When I first started dating my husband, he had come from a very loose background and I from a very strict one. We were both laying out ground rules, and I said that I wanted to make sure we dated only in public and not go over each other’s houses. My husband, then boyfriend, was a little angry. “I think it’s a bit over-the-top. Don’t you trust me?” he said. But he told me he would respect my wishes.
3 months later he told me that he was so thankful we made that rule, and today he tells all dating couples to do the same thing. It definitely helped us with our purity as a couple.
You don’t always have to agree to respect each other. No matter what differences you have, your guy needs to respect your conscience. Make your position clear early, and if he keeps trying to wear you down and make you compromise – give him the flick. If it’s a battle now, it will forever be a battle. He clearly isn’t going to be a respectful husband, because a man who truly loves you will respect you.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25-28).
There are so many other things I could talk about, but these are 4 important ones. It should be said that whenever you feel uncomfortable in a relationship, it’s usually a sign that there is something amiss! Trust your gut, and get advice from wise older women who love you. Very often people feel like they can’t give you relationship advice because it will push you away – so go ask for it!
Have you had any of these red flags pop up in your relationships before? What other important red flags are there?
- For more dating tips, see this article.
- For a comic look at my father’s approach to some of my suitors, see this article.
- For more on purity before marriage, see this article.