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Understanding Red Flags vs. Fear: Navigating Relationships with Confidence

We've been hurt before, but as women, we are often told that it is our fault. Consequently, we scrutinize every aspect of the relationship, searching for places where we might have erred. We meticulously review every detail, scouring for red flags and signs we may have overlooked. We become hyper-focused on the minutiae. Subsequently, we commit ourselves, vowing to never fall into the same trap again. However, this commitment often leads us to overanalyze minor issues, turning them into major red flags. For instance, not receiving an immediate callback, a lack of desired compliments (I am guilty of this), or an unsatisfactory response can trigger alarm bells.

It is crucial to listen attentively in any relationship, discerning the character of the person as early as possible. Asking direct questions is important, but scrutinizing every sentence, pause, non-call, and ambiguous text becomes exhausting and, frankly, a waste of time.

To alleviate the pressure and shift away from fear-based thinking, recognize that you lacked the necessary tools before. You came into a romantic relationship with no knowledge of how patriarchy teaches men how to manipulate you. Your parents reflected patriarchal thought through example, action, or conversation. They taught you that women are chosen only if they are virgins, likable, and submissive. So, like many, you approached these relationships with that information guiding you.

Unfortunately, you had to crash to realize that the dream they sold was untrue. You had to fall hard to see how deeply ingrained patriarchy is. Once the wool was lifted, you saw what romance is and not, but the pain, shame, and embarrassment of the situation made you extremely paranoid and over-diligent. To get over that hump, I’ve outlined some tips to keep your imagination, sanity, and love life in check.

Trust yourself and trust your boundaries. In the past, you weren’t clear about your needs, but now you are. You don’t have to be afraid because you know that if your boundaries are crossed, you will leave. You aren’t nervous to date, because you know if you aren’t feeling it, you will leave. All the times you over-extended yourself, over-liking a guy, and overprotecting yourself are done because you trust that you know yourself and you trust that you will act in a caring way towards yourself.

By knowing yourself, I mean being in touch with how you feel and accepting your feelings as truth. If your stomach turns, and you can’t quite put your finger on it, it's ok to trust that feeling. If every time you talk, you feel like you are being guided, then it's ok to trust that. You don’t need to explain away your emotions or make yourself wrong or bad for them. The only thing you do is honor them.

By trusting your boundaries, you are saying to yourself there are a set of rules that I made for myself to keep me safe, happy, and comfortable. I tell everyone I meet these rules, and when they agree to a relationship with me they agree to these rules. The moment that they violate these rules, I will leave.

Pain, shame, and embarrassment are a part of life. No one has escaped it. No one has lived without it. So, give yourself a break! Stop hating yourself. Obsessing over the new guy. Being anxious or nervous about every interaction. Your nerves won’t help you, but your confidence and belief in yourself will. So, believe that you have the knowledge, experience, and self-confidence to weed out anyone who is not right for you because you truly do.





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