How I Love to Ignore The Red Flags: My Latest Romance

relationship red flags

Because, well, I’m good at it!

My friends will tell you my love life has brought them countless hours of amusement.

And it’s nothing I try to do—honest!

But trouble tends to follow me in romance. Or, I follow it. And the process is always, well, interesting.

As a male friend from college is fond of asking, when I embark on another relationship, “What horrible is wrong with this one?”

I’ve run down the entire list of dysfunction. Sadly, all in different men!

In my youth, I practiced serial monogamy. I won’t mention how many times I’ve been engaged, but other than twice, when it got to the “I do” part, well, I didn’t. And I don’t regret the times I did say, “I do,” because I sure learned a lot!

So now that I’m, ahem, more mature, I never think of romance. There’re always men around, and I enjoy talking with them. Flirting. Having fun. But the idea of paring down to just one doesn’t hold much appeal these days. I mean, like you, I’m pretty danged busy, and have enough trouble finding time for my friends!

And nope, it’s not pathological—I don’t say or feel, “Never again!”

I just don’t think about it.

So imagine my surprise when a year or so ago, during a work-related thing, I met a man with whom I really hit it off. We had the best time! We laughed and joked and talked for hours on end.

We became instant BFFs.

Which should have been red flag # 1.

What surprised me the most, though, was that I was truly attracted to him. And he felt the same.

I mean, I’m not dead, but hadn’t felt such attraction in many years. Real life had been pretty intense—elderly and sick parents, and all that entailed, then dealing with their deaths and all the issues after that. More health scares with family and friends. Plus, an exacting career and business, and showing English Labradors, having puppies, well, my life was pretty danged nuts.

So, again, I just hadn’t thought about it.

Enter this man with whom I had so much in common!

And you know how that is—all is roses.

Red flag # 2!

But when you’re in that state, the entire flag parade of the United Nations can go by and you fail to see them . . .

So off things go with another long visit, and lots of phone conversations, and never did I get one whiff of things not being what they seemed.

Okay, that’s never the case, is it. We say we get blind-sided, but in retrospect, all those flags have been waving by us for quite some time.

And then . . .

So one day, he was taking me to lunch, and it was the first time I’d ridden in his truck. Outside was hot, hot, as only Texas summer can be, and he turned on the AC so I’d be cool, and then ran back in the building to get something.

Imagine my surprise . . . okay, that’s not a strong-enough word! Imagine my horror, as on the radio spouting his hate-speak is Rush Limbaugh.

Um . . .

Okay, anybody who knows me, knows I’m a pretty big Dem. Women’s issues are at the core of my being, and a woman’s right to choose is my signature issue. If we don’t have sovereignty over our own bodies, we have no civil rights.

In a nutshell, I’m one of those Femi-Nazis Rush is so fond of warning folks about.

I’m kinda the poster girl for that J

And, I don’t hide it. I don’t ram it down people’s throats, but it’s just part of my very being. I had mentioned bits and pieces in past conversations as they naturally came up.

Nothing was said to counter that.

But as Chris Rock says, “When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative!”

So when from that radio came Rush bashing women, of course, my first thought was—this man just listens to that station for news and weather.

Lol!

One of my favorite tales in the world is the Bluebeard myth, where the handsome prince comes to court the youngest daughter (in myth-speak, the most naïve one), who keeps saying, “Why, his beard is not so blue . . .”

Of course she marries him despite her sisters’ warnings, and is given the keys to the entire castle and all of its rooms except one—into which she’s forbidden to go. And of course, that’s the one room she wants most to see, and finally gains entrance.

Where she finds all the skeletons of all his former wives . . .

So when this man gets back into the truck, I mention something quite innocuous about Limbaugh, to somehow absolve him of being a rule out.

Boy, did I ever get an earful!

For the next 40 minutes, on the meandering way to the restaurant, I was regaled with all the liberal horrors of the world, how “they” (I’m never really sure who “they” are) are all out to get us, how we’re going to be invaded (literally) and have to muster our guns (which Hillary is trying to take away from us) and be ready to defend ourselves against the invading hoards.

And that was just the opening salvo . . .

The horrors of Hillary and the virtues of Trump and how men would be men continued on until I could get the subject changed over lunch.

There was no reason to engage in this battle. By then, his beard glistened deeply blue . . .

At least at this point in my life’s journey, I’ve gone down similar roads enough to be done before the Zimbabwe flag meandered by!

And I did enjoy my lunch and fine glass of cabernet and we laughed the rest of the time and then I couldn’t get back into my own car fast enough. A clean get-a-way I did make!

I do have friends who believe differently from what I do. We agree to disagree. But I don’t live with them. Nor, are they my one and only friend, as a real boyfriend would be.

I also learned long ago that people are who they are, and spots don’t change. Whew. At least that’s not a road I have to go down to learn from again!

As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

That’s a philosophy I long ago took to heart.

So I laugh when I think of this. And it showed me something that surprised me then, and still surprises me today—you never know when someone’s going to come along and turn your head, no matter how long it’s been.

Isn’t life just the most fun journey ever!

What have you learned from romance?

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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56 comments
Alicia says May 10, 2017

This is interesting for sure. I will pass it along to friends who are engaged.

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Candess M Campbell says May 10, 2017

Thanks for the laugh that comes with over-identifying! My father was alcoholic and so, of course, I am instantly attracted to the wrong men! I’m fairly good at character, but not once the hormones start flying. I agree! If there is that instant intensity – RUN!

Sorry for self-promotion here Susan, but that is why many people contact me for psychic readings. I can give them a lot of information about someone they are dating or thinking about dating with just a name. My tendency is to be efficient and why waste life energy going down the wrong man (or woman) road. Next . . .

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    What a fabulous service, Candess! I love the idea of getting a reading early on. That’s just cool!

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Neely Moldovan says May 10, 2017

My mom used to tell me that Maya Angelou quote all the time! Its so true!

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Divya says May 10, 2017

I’ve learned that things just fall into place when they’re supposed to. Love finds you when you’re least expecting it. Everyone says that. I know it’s cliche. But there’s so much truth to it.

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Cathy Sykora says May 10, 2017

“I couldn’t get back into my own car fast enough. A clean get-a-way I did make!” LOL I am glad he didn’t force you to listen to more Rush!

I think knowing what you DON’T comes in handy when carving out our ultimate reality. I’m glad this was such a clear cut “no” for you that it didn’t leave you with any lingering doubts. Thanks for sharing your story!

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    Yep, I love those too, Cathy–when it’s so clear cut even I can instantly see 🙂

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Katarina Andersson says May 10, 2017

So recognize myself in this story…ahahah…I haven’t really said the ‘I do’ to someone…but the pitfalls and not seeing the red flags in the beginning ;-)…And I realize I am having a very high-quality life on my own so if I want to be together with someone he would need very much add value, and not decrease the quality of life…and those men are not easy to find…LOL

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    What a great way to put it, Katarina–he would have to add value, and not decrease the quality of life. That pretty much sums up what a relationship is supposed to be!

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Anita Anderson says May 10, 2017

I have learned that most men give you the act in the beginning. By act, I mean flowers and other things and after a couple of years married it stops. I wonder what happened to that man I married but then realize that people change we are not the same people that we were when we said I do. Some things are just not that important anymore. It’s like when you graduate from H.S. you think of the end of the world while you are living it but once you graduate life goes on.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    People do change, Anita. But courtesy and respect should grow, not diminish, no?

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Joyce Hansen says May 10, 2017

I know that it’s real life, but it’s such a great story for a novel. I think all romances have an element that can turn them into heroine sagas. I felt bad for a long time that my fiancee dumped me for the minister’s daughter, especially since everyone knew but me. Tragic at the time, but it was the escape route I needed to eventually find Mr. Right.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    So much of my life filters through into my fiction, Joyce 🙂 And I love that you turned your experience into such a positive one!

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Tamuria says May 10, 2017

Sounds like you dodged a bullet, Susan. And your past experiences have made you wiser. In 32 years of marriage, there have been some intensely challenging times. Times I was almost sure we wouldn’t make it. Looking back I can see that it was the beliefs we shared – politics, religion, morals, etc – that helped keep us together when we were experiencing huge differences in other areas.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    You know, I think that’s SO crucial, Tami–that you have the same belief systems. Otherwise, you come at problems from different solar systems, and finding solutions can be near impossible.

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Adriana Lopez says May 11, 2017

We all learn from all experiences lived. I know it is hard to find the correct person. Me myself had to kiss so many frogs before finding the true prince charming.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    And kissing all those frogs helped you hone down what exactly you wanted, Adriana! Good for you and your prince 🙂

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Annemarie LeBlanc says May 11, 2017

I had a great time reading through your post. Getting into a relationship is so complicated, especially when your young and your hormones are raging like wildfires. Anyway, experience is a better teacher. We fall out of love, cry a lot, get jilted, were cheated on, etc.etc. But all these makes us stronger women, don’t you think? I live by these words – “No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance it is by choice.” The very same words I told my daughter when her boyfriend asked for her hand in marriage.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    What great words to live by, Annemarie! And so true–the choice lies in our hands.

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Mona McGinnis says May 11, 2017

Angelo’s quote was ringing in my ears before I scrolled down to it. There’s been growth or you wouldn’t have moved on so readily without the myriad of excuses we can tell ourselves about a fellow for the sake of having a man in our lives. Iyanla Vanzant has said that it takes one heck of a man to be better than no man at all. That’s not to say never to a relationship or that all men are bad, but like Katarina says, they should add value. Two things I have learned is to first, know thyself and second, take time.

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Reba Linker says May 11, 2017

What a great post, Susan. I was cringing and laughing and shaking my head “Oh, no!” and “Oh, yes!” Dear me! What a shame and a waste of a potentially attractive man – wait! No! Don’t even go there! It’s “Good by and won’t see ya later” as that truck heads down the road. As Grandma used to say (altered a bit to fit the facts): “Men are like trucks. There’ll be another one along in a while.”

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    LOL about your grandmother’s saying, Reba! I’m just happy I didn’t have to ride in that truck very long!

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Vatsala Shukla says May 11, 2017

As a good male friend told me many years ago, while discussing the book Women Who Love Too Much, ‘You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find The Mr Right’.

He had a point though I don’t think he knew that hidden among the frogs are toads with different warts. 😉

We might differ with our love interests when it comes to faith, politics and even music but if there is mutual respect, then both sides can learn and benefit from the companionship. It must have been quite a horror when this otherwise McDreamy guy went Terminator, Susan.

Did you ever go out with him again or keep him as a friend?.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    I tried to keep him as a friend, Vatsala, but as I don’t do “friends with benefits,” that didn’t work! Lol.

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Robin says May 11, 2017

Love your writing style! Felt I was a part of the story, yet can’t relate to the specific story. Does remind me a family member.

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Beverley Golden says May 11, 2017

First I must say that I know many people who make ‘political views’ number one on their ‘list’ of crucial things when it comes to suitable mates. I have always thought it was strange, however, reading your experience, I now completely ‘get it’ and would probably now lead with that too!

As far as what I have learned about romance, 5 or 6 years ago I had to the opportunity to have a somewhat teenage like attraction for a much younger man. As someone who is very visually oriented, I am generally only attracted to tall, lanky men. This man was not only 27 years younger, but he was grossly overweight! The fact that I would even go there, was a huge revelation that being attracted to the person behind the package is what truly matters. That was monumental for me! I knew it was not meant to be a long-term partnering, however, it turned out to be short, sweet and taught me a lot about myself that I never would have known without him showing up.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    Isn’t that the coolest thing, Beverley–when we’re attracted to someone “not our type.” it sounds like you had fun!

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Sue Kearney says May 11, 2017

Wincing, laughing, recognizing, and wincing a bit again. Thanks for the grin (rueful but a grin nonetheless). I’ve learned I’m not very good at romance, but I keep trying. Funny how the heart works.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2017

    It really is funny how the heart works, isn’t it, Sue! And I’m laughing–I’m really good at romance. It’s the rest of it I stink at!

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CourtneyLynne says May 11, 2017

Ahhhh love can be interesting!!!! The relationship I was in before I met my hubby, omg!!!! Flags all over the place, but did I see them? nope lol….

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2017

    They’re hard to see when we’re in the throes of it, aren’t they, Courtney!

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Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com says May 11, 2017

Oh Susan! How dreadful. I’m not sure I could have stayed in the truck with the guy. Good for you for not being stuck out in the middle of the hot Texas landscape! I so agree that being with the wrong person is far, far worse than not being with anyone. And it sounds like your life is very full and happy anyway. Be picky! You deserve it and so much more! ~Kathy

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2017

    I can still remember just sitting going, woops! I was stuck. Lol. And the funny thing was it all just came out of the blue. Wink, wink!

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Mary says May 11, 2017

You are a beautiful writer! I love the quote about believing the person the first time when they show you who they are. I see so many women trying to justify poor behaviors because they just want to experience love. Yes! Listen to those red flags!

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Carrie@thelavenderhytta says May 12, 2017

To tell you the truth I don’t really know what I have learned about relationships/romance. I guess the biggest things is marriage/relationships are hard work and if you don’t work at them then they disappear. As cliche as it sounds I think everyone has someone they are meant to be with and you never know when you might meet that person. Most of the time I would believe its when you aren’t looking for someone they come into your life.

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2017

    Oh, I believe that too, Carrie–when you’re not looking, in they come! And that’s the funny thing, not only was I not looking, I hadn’t even thought about it!

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Jonita D'souza says May 12, 2017

But when you’re in that state, the entire flag parade of the United Nations can go by and you fail to see them . . . this is so funny and so real! We get so blinded .. and yes life is such a fun journey 🙂

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Teresa Salhi says May 12, 2017

Love and relationships are so much a part of our life elixir. They are emotional in all ways from putting a swell of joy in our heart to a thorn in our side. Ha. I can relate to so much of what you shared, Susan. I had my share of failures in marriage and experiences for sure and yet always seemed to have another one. It was when I learned about the real inner differences of the masculine and feminine energy + how we must really know ourselves and what we want as we are always attracting to us what we are. So I got clear on these things and looked at when I am dominate in my feminine energy and when I am dominate in my masculine. Hint – being in masculine when with a male partner does not create romantic synergy – eek. Also, I learned I must be what the man I desired …wanted. I eventually met my now beloved on the Mediterranean coast of Tunisa. I was supposed to travel there with a friend but cancelled due to health. I went anyway even though I could not speak French or Arabic – but God said go and my tour guide was the reason. We dated on Skype for 9 months and he is now sitting in the other room – my husband. The experience and understanding of how it all unfolded has been part of many courses and programs I have shared with clients and students.
Our life experiences prepare us for our next – if we choose to look deeper. At least that is how it has happened for me. Such an interesting journey for sure……..
Here’s to love darling! 🙂

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2017

    Oh, I so agree, Teresa–we’re all mixes of male and female energy. And life brings us such mirrors! I had a blast through this time, and it still makes me laugh today. And God knows, I love to laugh!

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Alene Geed says May 12, 2017

A great saga of your love life, Susan. I had a long history of ignoring the red flags until later in my life I actually found someone with whom I can share my life, my dreams . It can happen but having such opposite political views as you describe is a blueprint for failure. Maybe the next one will be the right one💕

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2017

    Funny thing, Alene–I wasn’t looking, and am not now 🙂 I have to say, it was a truly fun experience though!

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Rachel Lavern says May 13, 2017

Interesting timing because my cousin was just describing a card game called Red Flags earlier in the week. It’s a party game about terrible dates and players argue against candidates.

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Joan Potter says May 13, 2017

My god, Susan, I think this is one of your very best articles (and you’ve had some great ones). LOVED the lines about “his beard glistened deeply blue” and my favorite, “…done before the Zimbabwe flag meandered by.” I think I may have to re-purpose those lines!

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Heather says May 15, 2017

Many times, unfortunately. I met a ton of bad eggs before I finally met my prince. And even then – marriage is not a cake walk!

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    Susan Malone says May 15, 2017

    Relationships take work, don’t they, Heather. But cool on your prince!

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Jennifer Quisenberry says May 15, 2017

Oh, the stories I could tell. It sounds like we have the same type of single love life. I’m married now, happily thankfully, but boy, the red flags I missed back then were neon! Thank goodness for the wisdom we learn from those situations.

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