We often hear people talk about red flags to look out for when dating or looking for a partner. And of course there are many red flags that are obvious. However, there are some flags that look green that may indicate trouble ahead. They should make you question is this love or illusion? We will share five “green” flags that you need to evaluate so you can determine if it’s love or illusion.
But He’s So Nice!
When you think about the word “nice” what really comes to mind? Stop right now and think of someone that you describe as “nice”. Then ask yourself why you chose that descriptor.
Nice is a nothing word. It generates neither excitement nor indifference. Nice is a trait that no one can object to it, but no one really embraces either.
When the best way that you can describe your partner is nice, you should “run like the wind”.
Nice is a Non-Description
This often means that he is non-confrontational, pleasant, and agreeable. But it also means he is also not intentional about interaction or engagement with you or others. Nice describes a passive nature that is not unpleasant but is not anything else either…at least not in agreeable circumstances.
Does this indicate trouble ahead? Possibly
Nice is the non-specific word that we use when we cannot honestly say “he is kind”. Kindness means he is intentional about the way he talks, engages with, and treats you and others. Or “he is generous” meaning he is intentional about giving his time, money, attention, etc. Or “he is considerate” meaning he considers the needs, desires, and opinions of others when making decisions.
Now you may still think what is the big deal about “nice” guys. Here are the potential problems. When things are not pleasant and agreeable around someone who is just nice, he will often become “not so nice”. Because he doesn’t demonstrate intention around his relationships with others, his default character is going to be doing what is agreeable and pleasant for him despite the needs, desires, or opinions of others.
His intention only shows up in times of conflict and then it is too late. He likes to be seen by you and others as one way so he will be “nice”. However, when there is a risk to his wants, Mr. Nice Guy will disappear.
The best way to know if this is love or illusion is to evaluate your time with him. See if you can identify behavior that demonstrates or conveys intentionality around the needs, desires, or opinions of others. Does he ever actually go out of his way to serve you or others? If he is unyielding when he is at risk of losing out on what he wants, that means he defaults to nice when things don’t matter. There are others signs that his “niceness” means trouble ahead. If he is not able to compromise, address conflict in a healthy way or be self-sacrificing in any situation, then you know that his nice is not love but illusion.
He’s the Strong Silent Type!
Many times we are mesmerized by the romanticization of Hollywood portrayals of what is sexy, attractive, and desirable in a mate. But in the movies, we see the couple go off into the sunset all joyful. What we don’t see is how those traits play out when the honeymoon is over and there is an actual marriage to maintain.
This oft lauded desirable trait of the strong, silent type is another “green” flag that could be foretelling a troublesome future ahead.
In public, they appear quiet, agreeable, non-aggressive, and safe. Friends and family think that you have caught a winner and so do you because often the true nature of strength and silence is not revealed until you are already deep into the relationship or even married.
The Silence Strong Arms You
In the light of day, the silence is covering for someone who is not just opinionated, but unyielding. Because they won’t talk about situations, you cannot reach resolution or even compromise. Their way becomes the only way, because they punish you with silence if you don’t do what they want. So, it becomes easy, and even necessary to give in to them, because having a negotiation is almost impossible.
This person is not shy, but they are non-communicative. They have not learned the skill of having balanced and productive conversation. They say what is necessary only, and you are left trying to figure out what they think or mean in every situation.
The Silence is Secretive
In addition, you will find that you are often left in the dark about what they are doing when they are not around you. They spend money, make plans, have friends, participate in activities from the mundane to the significant without communicating that to you. When confronted with it, there mantra is often something like, “It was not that big a deal, so I didn’t see the need to mention it” or “I don’t have to tell you everything because you are not my boss”.
Finally, they avoid conflict because they don’t know how to manage it without it turning into a shouting match or silent treatment. You never resolve situations, you just get tired of discussing them and either you give in, or you bury it until another blow up happens and it resurfaces. Your marriage or relationship has a long history of unresolved issues both big and small. You walk on eggshells, never really knowing when one of those long-buried conflicts will emerge.
To know if you are dating someone who is just a quiet person and not a red flag in disguise, address controversial, relevant, and divergent topics with him before marriage. See if he contributes, gets angry, shuts down, or is unyielding such that you find that you are always having to give in. If you see these traits, then you have a red flag in disguise and you don’t have to wonder is it love or illusion!
He’s So Protective!
Another trait that women often desire is to have a man that is protective of her, stands up for her, and is a person that she feels both physically and emotionally safe with.
Despite all the movements to prove that women are just like men and can do anything that men can do, in our heart of hearts most women still want to be taken care of by our partner. Not like a child, but like a lover. It is easy to be fooled by someone who is protective while you are dating and not see that it is hiding something much more sinister under the surface that will lead to lots of trouble ahead.
It’s Not Protection Sis, It’s Control!
Under the label of protective we find some men who are just controlling, demanding to know your every move and interaction, who you saw, where you went, how long you are going to stay. It never comes off like this in the beginning. It is said with smiles and whispered sweet nothings in your ear. However, after a while, if you are not accessible and available to their every call, text, or desire to hook up, they become increasingly annoyed, frustrated, and angry.
You feel compelled to start reporting your whereabouts because they claim they are just worried that you are safe or just like to know where “their girl” is, but in your gut you feel unsettled. You even get nervous if you go somewhere and forget to report it to him because you know that there will be an argument. This type of person can often become abusive.
He’s Not Leading, He’s Dominating!
Another iteration of this red flag disguised as green is that they start to become dominating in the relationship between you two. He dismisses your opinions and your independence. Now your decisions about what you do, where you go, what you wear become his to determine. He cloaks it in the language of wanting you to be safe and taking care of you, but it is all self-serving and self-protective. When informing him of your plans, you begin to feel like you are asking permission rather than sharing information.
Finally, this trait can look like belittling you and your ideas and “protecting” you from making mistakes by following your own counsel. This person will make you feel foolish, incompetent, or naïve and take power away from you and cause you to distrust your own choices, opinions, and ideas. This definitely falls into the category of illusion not love!
To weed out the truly protective man from the controlling, domineering, or belittling man, you must observe his behavior intentionally. Make plans for yourself with your friends or family that doesn’t include him and see how he responds. Does he show up when you are with your friends and family unannounced or unrequested? Do you feel unsettled by his questions about your daily whereabouts? Don’t ignore those feelings or actions. Does he appreciate your independence and individuality or is your personality and opinions degraded or subsumed in his? When you leave him do you feel better about you or worse? These are all signs that his protectiveness will become a prison if you choose to marry this man. This is a red flag in disguise and will clearly bring trouble in the relationship.
He is So Agreeable!
It is fun at the beginning of a relationship to be with a guy who is agreeable. Who doesn’t object to the things that you want to do, places you want to eat, music you listen to, people you want hang out with. It seems like you all agree on so much and are compatible. This can seem like a match made in heaven. There is no conflict, no disagreements, and you are just enjoying this relationship.
And maybe that happens sometimes. Where you really are just a great match in terms of compatibility so that you really do enjoy a lot of the same things. That is not impossible. But what is the other side of the “agreeable” demeanor that could be detrimental to you and a healthy relationship?
Men With No Backbone Are Unattractive
One of the main challenges that makes this a red flag versus a green flag is that he has no backbone. Even though he may disagree with you about something or have a different perspective, he is not secure enough in himself to share it. This is not attractive to women. It gives a false sense of compatibility when in fact he is simply suppressing his true thoughts, feelings, and desires.
Of course, this is problematic in so many ways. You miss the perspective of a man and a different person on your ideas or opinions. You are basically dating and communicating with yourself. This keeps you narrow and stunted in your growth and exposure.
It’s a Facade!
It is a façade that will eventually be revealed somewhere down the line. When that happens you realize that you actually don’t know the person and who they are at all because they were simply reflecting back what they thought you wanted rather than who they truly are.
In addition, they are not able to stand up to you or for you when the situation calls for that because they avoid conflict even when necessary. A good partner will stand up to you for the good of you and the relationship. If they are just agreeable, then they will run away from conflict in all its forms and leave you out there alone, when confrontation is required. This will diminish your respect for him as a man and as a partner.
He’s Not Leading, He’s Following!
Another indicator that this agreeableness is a red flag that indicates trouble ahead is that you will find that you are always having to lead the relationship and all the decisions that arise in it. Because his posture is to never offend and always get along, then he defers leadership in the relationship to you.
After a while, even an independent woman starts to feel cheated by a partner who won’t lead. This requires her to fulfill a role in the relationship that she had been fulfilling as a single woman and thought she would at least have a partner to execute.
Finally, this red flag agreeable man will never take initiative in anything. He waits for the woman to come up with ideas or suggest everything from the dinner selection to their readiness for marriage and everything in between. He is so committed to being the good guy, that he defers being the God guy, who leads.
Ask him and listen to his reflections of past relationships and why they broke up. He may express things like his ex “wanted too much” or “didn’t know what she had” or “preferred bad boys” or something like that. Now it could be true but ask more questions about what those things mean to see if she was asking him to lead, take initiative, be able to confront issues without drama. Also, be aware if he says that he has no idea why the relationship ended. That is a huge red flag.
Someone who is always agreeable cannot see why anyone would not want to continue in the relationship and so they may say they don’t really know why when she told him many times. Also, does he take initiative in your relationship? Is he a leader, does he express opinions contrary to yours, are you able to disagree without a brawl? These are all things to be observing so that you can avoid the red flag version of this trait in your marriage and not be fooled into thinking the illusion is love.
He Trusts God!
Now many of you reading this are ready to dismiss everything that I said before when you saw this heading. How in the world could someone trusting God be a red flag? Even if you are not a believer, there is some sense that a person who does this is a good person even if you think that he is misguided. I get that. In the years past, I would have never included this in the list of potential red flags. But now having seen it play out, I can see how much of a red flag it can be. It is in many respects the worst of all of those here because it is the most devastating when you see all the trouble that it can cause in your future.
He Hides Behind God!
One of the main problems you will encounter in a relationship with this man is that you cannot address real issues with him and come to a resolution. He hides behind God when something difficult happens. He throws responsibility for the resolution of problems onto God and takes none for himself. This gives him an out and allows him to avoid what might be difficult conversations. It also keeps the relationship “happy” because there is no conflict because we are “trusting God” to work things out.
Another pitfall is that this person refuses to plan and discuss how things in the relationship should go. You are frustrated because he will avoid conversations about things like roles, finances, or parenting in the relationship. He is always flying by the seat of his pants. He makes up the next steps in his and yours while claiming that he is trusting God by not planning.
Finally, this is the man who will claim a calling from God while showing no evidence of that call. He will declare this calling and his trust that God is going to work things out. Yet he has no path, puts in no work or effort, and has no validation from you or anyone. You will be on a rollercoaster as he moves from one thing to the next because he doesn’t want to do the work or take responsibility.
To determine if this is a red flag look at his actions and interactions. Faith without action is worthless. If he is truly trusting God, then he is acting based on God’s direction. He should be able to clearly articulate God’s direction. Is he making plans with you based on God’s word and good counsel? You see that he can address real issues that come up in the relationship. The man uses the word of God, prayer, and spiritual disciplines to resolve those issues.
A healthy man doesn’t put all the work of the relationship or his life on God. He is working in the direction that God is leading. He is trusting God to do the part that only God can do. If you can see these actions, then you can safely move forward. If it’s all talk and no action, planning or validation, then it’s a red flag that will be trouble ahead.
Relationships are challenging. Knowing how to assess character so that you make healthy relationship choices is not always straightforward. You must stay focused on collecting data before trying to give your heart. Be observant. Listen to what he is saying and what he is NOT saying. Trust the intuition that validates some of the other observations that you have. When you do these things you will become more astute at identifying those hidden red flags and escaping trouble ahead.