A little while back I stumbled on the site and Twitter feed of Debra Fileta. I honestly am not even sure how it happened, but it did, nonetheless. After I started to follow her on Twitter, she mentioned her upcoming book (came out yesterday), so I checked it out and pre-ordered it. Since following her on Twitter I have been able to participate in a blog on her site about turning 30, being single and how others act towards us.
More recently I have been thinking about the importance of dating a solid-Christian female and not even pursuing anyone who isn’t. While talking to the Freshmen boys in the small group that I lead, I realized that I am not the only one who needs this reminder on a regular basis. While searching for blogs/articles/Bible verses that spoke to this, I once again ended up back on Debra’s site and found her answer to this question. I immediately asked for her permission to re-post this on my blog and she agreed. I encourage you to read what she has to say and let it guide you, if you are single, in your search for a marriage partner.
I get a lot of questions about what kind of things should be taken seriously enough in dating to be considered deal-breakers. If I’m honest, I was (and still am) pretty particular about the relationships I invest in and the people I get to know. My personal list of deal-breakers was probably 10 pages long. But the truth is that preferences and deal-breakers are very different things. My preferences with regard to relationships and yours may look totally different, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
That said, from my perspective as a professional counselor, some things are just a no-go no matter how you try to look at them. Over time, what I have observed from my experience and from the couples I have worked with is that there are some qualities and characteristics that should never be looked over, no matter how many other things line up.
1. Deceit: The number one deal-breaker when it comes to any relationship, is deceit. If you can’t build a relationship on truth, then you have no relationship. If you find yourself in a relationship in which you are lied to or continually questioning the truth, my advice to you is this: RUN!
2. Addictions: Most people think of alcohol and drugs when it comes to the deal-breaker of addiction. But there is so much more to the spectrum of addiction that needs to be observed before you engage in a dating relationship. Addiction can come in the form of financial irresponsibility (gambling), sexual struggles (pornography), food (compulsive binging or purging), etc. I am in no way saying that these struggles make someone unworthy of relationships, I am simply saying these struggles need to be dealt with first. Healthy people make healthy relationships, there’s no getting around it.
3. Abuse: When it comes to deal breakers, there shouldn’t be a hint of sexual, emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. Using sex, emotions, words, or physical touch to gain control or power over another person is absolutely out of the question. Add to that list the sly manipulation of spiritual abuse- using God or His word for selfish gain. Never make excuses for this type of behavior- and get yourself out.
4. Rage: How a person handle’s their emotions says a lot about that person. Rage is a sign that there are some major deficits when it comes to emotional management. If you see signs of rage this early on in a relationship, the prognosis is likely very…very bad. Break the deal before you’re in too deep.
5. Codependency: Codependent people base their confidence and self-esteem on the people around them. They are clingy, needy, and desperate for affection and love- no matter the cost. But the reality is that healthy people don’t need each other, they choose each other. Don’t ever mistake the dysfunction of need, for the beautiful gift of true love.
6. Avoidance: Though you’ll never meet the perfect person, you should pursue someone who knows their imperfections, and is ready and willing to discuss and deal with these things. Avoidant people cower from dealing with any topic that has to do with feelings or conflict. Communication is the life-line of a relationship; avoidance will never allow for that life to take root.
7. Control: For a healthy relationship to exist there has to be a component of freedom. When two people live in trust with one another, their relationship automatically exudes freedom. The opposite of this is control. One or both individuals trying to control the other. Who they can spend time with, talk to, and see. How they spend their time, their money, and their emotions. What they can buy, wear, or be a part of. Control is a sign that something is not as it should be in the relationship. It’s a major deal-breaker.
8. Lacking Boundaries: I get emails all the time from both men and women frustrated at their partner’s lack of boundaries with people- specifically, people of the opposite sex. I always advise that this is something that MUST be dealt with in order for the relationship to continue on. If you’ve had to address this issue in your relationship and nothing has changed, then it’s time to really consider where you fall on your significant other’s priority list. If there are signs of this in your current relationship, you better believe it will only be magnified when you enter into a marriage. So speak now, or forever hold your peace.
9. Self-Absorption: Though this may sometimes be subtle, it’s deadly when it comes to long term relationships. Self-absorption is essentially declaring that you are more important than anyone else. In dating, this can come across as someone who is only focused on their wants and needs in a relationship, neglecting their partner. Someone who is always right. Someone who is self-centered, vain, or narcissistic. The root of it all is the same- a fixation with self. This is poison in any relationship, and even more deadly when we’re talking about a life-long one. Get…out…while…you…can…
10. Passive: Someone who is passive allows life to happen rather than directing the course of their life. Passivity is typically rooted in insecurity, but manifests in a lack of goals, motivation, desires, and opinions. It’s someone who repeatedly “doesn’t know” or “doesn’t care” and allows you to constantly take the lead. It’s a person who is lacking initiative and drive in parts or most areas of their life. I don’t know about you, but I think one of the worst kinds of relationships is one in which you feel like you are in it alone.
For me, when it came to falling in love and choosing a life partner- one thing was for certain, I wanted to marry a man who held the same values and beliefs as I did. But the unfortunate thing is that the title “Christian” doesn’t always translate to healthy.
The signs of God truly at work in someone’s life manifest themselves in qualities of health and wholeness (Galatians 5:22), a list completely antithesis to the list above. Don’t ever settle for someone who simply speaks good things–look for someone who lives those things out.
Marriage is a life-long commitment to someone who vows to love, honor, and cherish you for the rest of their lives. If you’re not seeing those things in your dating relationship, you’re never going to see them in a future marriage. It’s time to come to terms with the reality of where your relationship is, and break the deal before it breaks you.
Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visit www.truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more!