Some people took me to task for holding Brett McKay’s Art of Manliness blog out as an example of a highly successful site that rejects “the narrative” out of hand. I’ll admit that I, too, thought of it as pretty light fare for a while, but when the site gives solid advice to young men, as it has today with its article “14 Red Flags to Look Out for in a Relationship,” you’ve got to hand it to the author for going where most social conservatives – including too many conservative Christians – dare not tread.
A few excerpts:
You’ve probably had a friend who started dating a woman that really made you scratch your head. She was flaky, possessive, and high-drama. Everyone could see that the gal was toxic and really bringing your buddy down…everyone, that is, except your buddy.
You tell yourself, “That would never happen to me.”
But then it does.
“Well,” you say, “I’m a manly man, dammit. I don’t let my emotions get the best of me in a relationship. I always think rationally.”
Hold on there, chief. Some research actually indicates that men, particularly men in their mid-twenties, “typically fall in love faster than women and are the first to take the lead in saying words of love in the initial stages of the relationship.” Women, on the other hand, are generally more apprehensive in the beginning stages of a relationship. In other words, just because you’re a dude, doesn’t mean you’re not susceptible to love blindness.
Knowing that your judgment is clouded, it’s important to enter any serious relationship with both your head and your heart. You need be able to distance yourself from the powerful emotions you’re likely feeling in a new relationship so that you can notice any red flags that might indicate that you’re destined for a relationship from hell. This is doubly important if you’re considering marriage.
But what sort of red flags should you be on the lookout for? While every man has his own personal relationship red flags or deal breakers, psychologists and marriage experts have found there are a few general red flags you should be aware of. Most of these are patterns of behavior in your partner that will likely (not definitely) result in a troubled relationship down the road.
1. She’s a self-proclaimed “Drama Queen.” Beware of women who not only proclaim themselves to be Drama Queens, but also revel in the role. Drama Queens often swing from one emotional extreme to another; when life seems a little boring or flat, they’ll go out of their way to stir up a controversy. They’re often impulsive and demand to be the center of attention all the time. What’s interesting is that Drama Queendom isn’t just a character defect, it could actually be a psychological disorder called “histrionic personality disorder.” Who knew?
Drama Queens can be very alluring and attractive in the beginning of the relationship because of their seemingly outgoing and often seductive personalities. But the shtick gets old after a while and constant drama in a long-term relationship just makes people miserable.
3. She says ALL her exes are jerks. There’s a possibility that every man she’s ever dated was indeed a jerk. If that’s the case, what does that say about her judgment, and what is it about her personality that draws her to losers? And that also means you’re probably a jerk too, as people tend to follow the same scripts and patterns across relationships.
The more likely scenario is that some — but not all — of her exes were jerks and she’s downplaying her role in the relationships going sour. This scenario is just as troublesome – as it shows a lack of self-awareness and an unwillingness to take responsibility. We all know folks who got fired from a job, received a bad grade, or got dumped because their boss was jealous, their professor was out to get them, and their girlfriend was nuts. It’s never their fault. Avoid relationships with this type of person like the plague.
6. She expects to be treated like a princess. When one person comes into a relationship with a sense of entitlement and expectation that his or her needs should always come before the other person’s, resentment, contempt, and anger are usually the results. Be on the lookout for subtle and overt clues that your partner has the “princess” mentality. (Hint: She has the word “Princess” stitched on the butt of her sweatpants.)
13. She’s violent. Did you know that women are at least as likely, sometimes even more likely, than men to initiate domestic violence? Sure, her punches may not hurt you, but if your girlfriend gets violent when you argue, that should be a bright red flag that you need to end the relationship. There’s some underlying emotional issues there, and if she did it before, she’ll likely do it again. Don’t shrug it off – slapping can escalate into the use of weapons…
Good stuff. Frankly, I wish somebody had sat me down and hammered these lessons into my head when I was 18. Given that a lot of McKay’s readers are young men, he’s doing a yeoman’s job here. Compare him to, say, Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill church, who lays into his young male parishioners for not marrying single mothers, and he’s a beacon of light in the darkness.
We need more popular, practical advice for young men, who tend to get all the wrong messages today. When someone can provide that through an enjoyable, readable platform that has broad appeal, it’s an enormous service.
Good work, Brett.