Relationship Red Flags: The Longer You Accept the “Abnormal” the More Normal It Becomes.

Part II of “Spotting Dangerous Men” Series

Laneesha started dating Gary when she graduated high school. He was charming and caring, and filled the void she felt from missing a male figure because her father left her mother when she was only one year old. He was ten years her senior and at the beginning, she loved how secure and safe Gary made her feel and came to truly depend on him after he insisted she move in. She didn’t feel comfortable insisting on him wearing a condom, and didn’t question his assertion that only prostitutes insist on men wearing them. She also stayed quiet when he would disappear for days at a time, and never asked, because she did once–only once–because Gary grabbed her and pushed her into a wall, growling that she must never question him, because he is the man, and she is “just a silly girl.” Six months later Laneesha discovered she was pregnant, and caught a nasty case of chlamydia. When she told Gary about the pregnancy and the STI, he became outraged and accused her of cheating and said the baby wasn’t his. He left her, diseased and pregnant, to meet and groom another victim. While she was devastated, she opted to raise her child alone, without protection, resources or support. She had never had a father, so for her it was perfectly normal to raise a child alone. As the years progressed, Laneesha had a series of “Garys” that left her more devastated than the last.

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While Laneesha’s story is fictional, her situation mirrors millions of women who have been predisposed to accepting dysfunction as normal, and rationalize horrific behaviors as “just how it is.” “The longer you embrace a certain belief system, the more normalized it becomes within your worldview,” says Sandra L. Brown, pychotherapist and author of “How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved.”

This explains in part how and why the out-of-wedlock rates in the black community have become the “new normal” despite volumes and volumes of research on how detrimental it is to children. Women and girls who grow up in fatherless homes are especially vulnerable to dysfunctional behaviors by males, because many of them have never seen examples of healthy relationships. Of course it’s not their fault–and if this is you, know that no one is trying to blame you. But you will have to take special care in vetting the men you date. Your tolerance for bad behaviors from men might be high, and as a result your red-flag-o-meter might be on the fritz. You might not know how to draw healthy boundries, and “emotional predators are bloodhounds for weak-boundaried women, says Brown.” These guys count on you not putting your foot down and demanding he wear a condom, and that you’ll forgive them for that slap or that shake because he’s convinced you that it’s how men in love act. “Women with weak boundaries fail to verbalize and take action on what they need. They stay quiet and hope *somehow* it will all work out.”

It won’t.

“Boundaries are like gates through which we invite others into certain areas of our lives. If someone crashes your gates without an invitation, you can be sure that person will try to live inside your gates and invade your personal business without invitation. Men who are boundary violators, by definition, feel entitled to run your life.”

Brown gives a list of specific signs of a bad dating choice. Read and learn, ladies. Read and learn.

A man might be a poor dating choice if  he (partial list)

–doesn’t respect your need for time alone

–pushes to see you all the time

–discourages your outside interests, family and friends

–asks you to do things you are uncomfortable doing (like lying for him, giving him money, sex)

–wants to control your hair, dress, behavior, friends, jobs, or how you express your spirituality

–is physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually “rough” or “weird”

–is too charming, has all the right lines, comes across as excessively smooth

–has a string of unsuccessful relationsips (remember, you aren’t special!!)

–conceals important information about himself that you only discover later.

If your guys displays any of these behaviors, know that it is NOT normal, but ab-normal. Don’t try to talk to him, don’t try to change him, don’t try to pray him normal. Just. Walk. Away.

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The Man Myth