Caution flags in relationships

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I was once invited to go on the Rachael Ray show as an "expert" to discuss my article featured on AOL's homepage: My Boyfriend was Living a Double Life. (Which really confused me because I thought it was a cooking show. But apparently I am the poster child for heartbreak, so I can cook up some relationship advice — using my own mistakes as lessons.)

Race week in Charlotte actually inspired my talking points for the Rachael Ray show ...

Wouldn't it be nice if, when dating, we had someone to wave yellow caution flags for us like NASCAR drivers do during a race — to let us know if there is debris, or bullshit, on our track ahead. Because you have to keep an eye out for red-caution flags in relationships, as I learned the really hard way.

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Some caution flags to look out for …

Are you spinning your wheels?

Technically men are the ones who get to decide when women get married — based on when they ask. If you keep waiting for him to advance your relationship, and he’s telling you it’s a marathon and not a sprint, then he probably doesn’t intend on finishing the race with you. If you’re waiting for a fairy tale to unfold, I hate to be the one to tell you that Cinderella isn't real — and you’re likely headed for an unhappy ending.

Check your blindspot and utilize your spotter

If someone is waving a caution flag in front of you ... pay attention! And it might be a good idea to take a glimpse in the rearview mirror and make sure no one else is in it. My mentality of living in the now and always driving forward made me completely disregard the past ... and the fact he was still living in it, with no regard to a future with me. Look how well that turned out for me.

Is he on your pit crew ... or driving against you?

Is he jealous and over-protective of you? If so then it’s probably because he is doing something that would warrant those feelings, from you. If he’s questioning your loyalty then you may want to question his. And if you are in fact questioning his loyalty — RED FLAG! Worse, if you ever feel so insecure to the point you feel the need to pry and spy, it’s time to throw in the flag on that relationship ... or get your head checked.

You can’t exactly plug him up to a lie detector test every time he opens his mouth, so you have to decipher the truth from lies for yourself … and not lie to yourself about it either. If he lies to you about the little things that’ll piss you off, he’s probably lying about the things that you would leave him for.

Such as where he was the previous night when you couldn’t get a hold of him and his “phone died,” or what he’s really doing when he tells you he’s “working late.”

And while he’s making excuses as to why he disappeared on you or can’t spend time with you … are you rationalizing his actions and making excuses for him to validate his? Again ... RED FLAG!

I’m not encouraging paranoia and insecurities, but merely suggesting you open your eyes to see the signs. Just remember, your heart can sometimes be naïve, your mind can rationalize, but your instinct is always right … so definitely listen to it when it's throwing caution flags.

Is he acting?

The dating scene is full of men acting like they’re in a relationship, so they can have the benefits of it, minus the monogamy. Pay attention to his performance to see if he really, sincerely loves you (and only you) — or if he’s putting on an Oscar-winning performance, playing the role of your man. He may act like he cares, but he may in fact only be acting; you have to base his feelings on his actions vs. his acting.

Can I get my money back? But I did learn that if you take gifted jewelry back to Tiffanys they’ll let you exchange it without putting it back on his credit card — the cheating boyfriend refund.

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