Lets take a quick look back at the characters that made me gush and the ones that I wanted to flush!
(Identities will be obscured to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent!)
Contestant #1: Is that a gun on your hip... Or are you just happy to see me??Status: Single, never married, no children, employed
This guy was involved in law enforcement of the most secretive kind. He was the first that I met in-person for coffee. He told me all about himself as we sipped coffee in the summer sun. He was handsome, intelligent, capable, cultured and funny! So when he asked if I wanted to upgrade the date to dinner, I excitedly obliged. He told me that conditions of dinner was that he would now get to hold my hand as we strolled through the parking lot to Applebees. I was elated. We enjoyed a two for $20. He talked a lot. He had a lot to say. Stories about work, stories about travels. I enjoyed his company, and agreed to a second date (but not before discovering he was packing heat!!) Since I am a modern woman with traditional values, I drove to him to meet for dinner. He strangely hurried me into the house, and was extremely paranoid his neighbors would see me! When one neighbor rang his door bell, he asked me to hide in the kitchen! Needless to say, this set off ALL of my bells and whistles! Next contestant please!!
Contestant #2: What size shoes do you wear, because I think I have worn those before!Status: Wanted to be divorced, one kiddo, employed
Strikingly handsome, amazingly charming, strong, and yet so vulnerable. He had complexity illustrated as plainly as his sensitive eyes and masculine strength. We met online, chit chatted there, then went on to friend request each other on "The Book". We talked on the phone, texted, and skyped. Then we finally met in person. We decided not to call it a date, and just an introduction. I liked him instantly. He brought down my walls with the ease of his smile. He had the charm of a gentleman. We had a lot in common, and it was easy to talk to him. I was INCREDIBLY attracted to him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I could see me spending the rest of my life with a guy LIKE him. The problem? He wasnt ready to move forward yet. He had told me he was divorced online, then told me it would be finalized in 6 months, then admitted they hadnt filed yet, but fully intended to. I remembered being in his shoes. I was frustrated that my ex had moved on, and I wanted to do the same. I wasnt ready and readiness cant be forced. I hoped we could be friends, but as we both continued to join other dating sites, we were inevitably matched: eHarmony, Match.com, etc... It made for an awkward goodbye. Good guy, bad timing.
Contestant #3: Fireman fireman number eight, saw our marriage as his fate!Status: Divorced. Step-son. Employed
I am pretty sure that if you looked up Quirky in the dictionary, you might find contestant #3's portrait. The night we were matched online, we in-boxed each other, texted, then talked on the phone for two hours. We decided to meet the next morning for coffee. When we met for coffee there seemed to be instant chemistry, well on his side at least. We went window shopping after, and he held my hand as we strolled the isles of the store. He talked about the house that we would have together and the children we would have. (Maybe this was red flag #1? Instant unfounded attachment.) He also had libraries full of sad, bitter stories. In every one of his bitter fairytales he played the victim. Our second date was a corn maze. He had no idea that this was more of a dissection for me than an actual date. I meticulously watched as he darted and ran through the corn maze trying to find the end; he was all about the destination rather than the journey. A destination man changes the pace of the journey. I picked his brain on politics, religion, family, career, etc and he jogged through the corn searching for the end. I felt he had potential, or maybe it was the beginning of my desperation and first date burn out? My dissection was mistaken for interest, and he said "I Love You" after the second date. Our third date was to church. That was awkward, especially for him I am sure, but I appreciated his attempt! Our fourth (second technical) date, he wanted to surprise me. He got to my house, and explained we were going to get "couple massages". This shot fear through my entire body painfully. I had barely kissed this guy, let alone get anywhere naked with him! Nonetheless, I was willing to oblige and would figure out a modest place to undress pre-massage if needed. Before leaving, a sudden automic bomb was innocently dropped blowing any sort of future to shreds. While making conversation, I casually asked him about his relationship with his step-son he fathered for 10 years prior to his divorce. He told me he did not have a relationship with him. That is a TOTAL deal breaker for me. I was panicked as I felt pressured to go to this couples massage, but knew we would no longer be dating. I didnt know how or what to say but knew the clock was ticking. I had to get out! We were in the room about to undress when I blurted out, "This isnt going to work". Maybe not the best timing, and for some this would have never been a red flag, let alone a deal breaker. For me, it was a "Do Not Pass Go". He was visibly upset as he drove me home massage-less and attempted to change my mind in every way possible. Finally he got that it was over and eventually left me alone.
Contestant #4: We almost "clicked"Stats: Single- engaged once, never married, no kids, self-employed
Incredibly handsome with striking eyes that made my heart melt. Amazingly funny and full of humorous one-liners that kept me giggling for the first 4-hour phone conversation we had. He entertained my heart as much as my soul. He had incredible depth and perception. I felt like I got him and he got me on a level that I had never known with anyone else. It was like a secret language almost. I know everyone has a sad story to tell. It is ok to have sad stories; bitter stories are a different situation. He talked a lot about his bitter stories, A LOT! (So much I finally asked if he was still in love with his ex girlfriend! That was awkward!) He had two major novels on his bookcase of his heart and each one was full of fear from past wrongs. He, too, played the role of victim in the stories he told. He was unable to take responsibility, and this seemed to be a personal theme of his. Contestant #4 was a talented photographer. He shot anything from weddings, to family pics, to sports, and art. He was incredibly talented, and as an uninvolved person I could appreciate his art. His art as an involved person was a conflict for me. It involved nudity in it's most beautiful form. It was no where near pornography and extremely classy and completely artistic in every way. I really loved a lot of the prints. Yet, thinking of my man going to shoot a woman nude, sent anxiety shooting through my core. It wasn't because of an absurd moral conflict; but rather my fear of loosing my heart to infidelity again. He couldnt understand this and took it as a personal offense that someone may not support his art. He also showed tendencies to loose his cool in situations that never warranted anger or even disapproval. He showed signs of being manipulative and controlling. We were too early in a relationship to begin to illustrate any of it. All of this screamed "RED FLAG" so loud it was breath taking. I tried to end it- I knew we didnt have a future. But I was also conflicted; I was tired of breaking hearts. So, I choose to keep communicating with him. This lasted another week or so before deciding to wage war on him. Yes, war. If I got HIM to "break up" with ME, I would not have to deal with his psudo-broken heart or convincing arguments. It was brilliant!! So I implemented my own little campaign of Shock & Awe. Everything I had heard other male friends complain women did, I did. I made mountains out of mole hills, I was overly emotional and sarcastic and unavailable and critical, I even exploited his personal fears. What I had planned to be a 10-day assault (Inspired by the movie: How to loose a guy in 10 days), I successfully accomplished in two days!
All of this said and done I have learned a few things. This a section I would like to call:
You might have a red flag1. If he is always the bitter victim done wrong, and never the hero, you might have a red flag.
2. If he takes you to a clinical setting to pressure you to remove clothing, you might have a red flag.
3. If he cries as he drives you home because you said it wouldnt work, you might have a red flag.
4. If he shoots naked people, or violates your personal boundaries in the same way, you might have a red flag.
5. If he is more attached to his glock, mom, or medical marijuana, (aka: something youre not ready to live with in your life) you might have a red flag.
6. If he hides you in his kitchen when the door bell rings, you might have a red flag.
7. If he demonstrates controlling, manipulative, possessive and temper driven tendencies, you might have a red flag.
8. If he is unwilling to take responsibility, you might have a red flag.
9. If he constantly talks about ex's, and I mean more than a mention or two, you might have a red flag.
...AND finally 10. If he is still technically married because he hasnt yet filed for D, and you want marriage, SADLY you might have a red flag.