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Navigating Love's Maze: Beyond Butterflies and Red Flags in the intricate dance of modern dating

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

a young couple dating picture

You know, there's this prevailing notion that women should wait to be swept off their feet, patiently anticipating a knight in shining armour. And let's not forget the cliché of a man wanting to meet your family being synonymous with his decency. It's all a bit misleading, isn't it? The truth is, this dating game was invented by men, and we're unwittingly caught in their ploy. They're assessing the terrain, calculating their moves, and determining how much they can get away with.

Undoubtedly, we're living in a man's world, still grappling with the persisting clutches of patriarchy. But you know what? It doesn't have to be that way.

So, here's the deal: When you're in the dating scene, don't just fall for the obvious tricks. Instead, flip the script. Ask about his friends, check out his place – not just his bachelor pad, mind you – go ahead and meet his family. Get to know his friends, workmates, even his mum and dad. Inquire about his upbringing, his values, his past relationships. Dive into his social media presence; it's a treasure trove of insights.

Oh, and here's a golden rule: align on the fundamentals. Where you want to live, your stance on children and parenting, who's taking the reins in various aspects – it all matters. A multitude of cooks might make for a chaotic kitchen, but in a relationship, clarity is key. If someone's better at something, let them take the lead. Watch closely how he treats others. If he can't show respect to a waiter, consider it a red flag waving high. And those constant excuses? Don't let them slide. Oh, and the "I want to protect you" spiel from a guy you've barely met? That's not romantic; it's a colossal red flag.

Now, here's a curveball: if he's keen to meet your family, don't just blush and take it as a green light and sign that he is really into a commitment with you. He's not proving his intentions; he's scouting the territory to gauge how far he can push and what he can get away with. In this dance of dating, it's time to take charge. If he wants to meet your family, insist on meeting his first – in public spaces, mind you. If he only introduces you to his male friends, raise an eyebrow. Men cover for each other, even when the truth is buried under layers of lies. You may be going out with a married man and none of his friends will say a thing.

Remember what your mama taught you, STRANGER DANGER ... And hold your horses when it comes to introducing your children. Remember, a stranger is a stranger, regardless of the circumstances. Follow your mum's advice: don't trust strangers with your personal details or whereabouts. Opt for public places when you meet, and give it time. A sincere man will stick around, and if he doesn't, well, you've dodged a bullet.

Here's the bottom line: date with intention, plan for the unexpected. Be prepared for the worst, hope for the best, and be ready to adjust accordingly. In this journey, trust with a hint of skepticism, especially if children are involved. Research your potential partner as thoroughly as you would for a job or choosing your children's school. You're invaluable, and so are your kids. Don't let just anyone waltz into your life and theirs.

And oh, a special note to those with children from previous relationships – take your time before introducing a new flame to your children. Date all you want, but keep your home off-limits. Make them work for it. Connect with their circle first. Gather as much info as possible. And don't hesitate to consult your family and friends; they see beyond the rose-tinted glasses of infatuation.

See the point is...that fluttery feeling in your stomach? Those initial butterflies? In the grand scheme, that's not love. Specially in the beginning of a relationship when he seems so sweet and is love bombing you and does all these things women think is love? That’s not love. It’s hormones talking and he knows how to play the game because women and men have been raised a certain way for centuries. No one loves you without getting to know you first. Love is deeper – it's about respect, understanding, commitment, and consideration. Love means accepting each other, warts and all. Just like Oliver Cromwell said, "warts and all," we should embrace the whole package. Love is to want to be with someone for their imperfections. One of my favourite sayings is “I love you warts and all” which is attributed to Oliver Cromwell. It is said that in 1653 when Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England he was having his portrait painted and he asked that he’d be painted as he was with all his imperfections, warts and all. To this day we use the phrase “warts and all” to mean that we want the whole story without being airbrushed and without removing any unpleasant or unappealing bits. When you actually decide to love someone, you love them warts and all. Make sure you get to know all the warts before you make the decision to love them and make them part of your circle. After all, your choices ripple through your circle, especially if children are involved. Real love? It's not a fleeting emotion; it's a deliberate decision, a steadfast commitment.

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