How to Know You’re With the Wrong Guy- 7 Signs He’s Not Mr. Right For Dating or Marriage
You only have to read a bit of my “about me” section to know that I am a downright expert in picking Mr. Wrongs. The fact alone that I had to go into hiding from husband number two after he was released early from the state hospital for the criminally insane, might clue you in. But after years of resulting therapy and a new life with my imperfect Dr. Husband, I just may even be learning about Mr. Right.
I promised a reader on Loveawake dating site blog I would write a list of the top ways to know you’re with Mr. Wrong, so here are seven:
You think you can’t tell enough about someone on the first or second date. But, if he had a bad day at work and yells at the waitress, the cab driver, or at you- make that the last date. Sure, everyone feels angry sometimes. But, no, a man isn’t manly if he is randomly acting out in anger. And if he takes out his anger on strangers or people unrelated to his issue, or if goes from feeling angry to acting angry, then he needs some serious re-tuning and you can never fix or change another person. Non-negotiable acts of anger include: throwing things, breaking things, punching things or people. Bad-day-syndrome, lost-the-job, met-someone-who-really-did-him-wrong, down-on-his-luck…none of it is an acceptable excuse. An easy barometer is this: his angry outbursts should never be the kind that embarrass you in public.
I could never figure out how I, an educated and successful woman, could end up in a first marriage with a man who controlled everything from what I was wearing to where I was going. I have since learned that while a man who is successful because he works to control every aspect of his work environment IS sexy, a man who tries to control a woman is definitely NOT sexy. I also learned that you can spot this behavior early on. If you sometimes tolerate Ace Ventura or live through each season of his favorite sport, chalk that up to compromise. If every single time he picks the movie, orders your meal, strongly suggests you change what you wear (with a disapproving glare to your favorite gypsy skirt)- get out. And if you stay around, you may find that he is controlling more and more of your life while you make excuses.
You may tell yourself he’s just trying to educate you or make you a better person, but if you can’t change him, he certainly shouldn’t be trying to change you. Much worse, he should never, ever, ever put you down. Name calling is out of the question. Putting you down in any context is bigger than a red flag. Again, it can start off slow, so look out for early signs where he “corrects” the way you say something in a nasty tone, or he refers to you “joking” to his friends as stupid or brainless with a pat on the knee, if he says your behavior embarrasses him...if he makes you feel small, you’re with the wrong guy. And while you may say it’s impossible, my husband (although not perfect) would really prefer to live without some of my midnight rants. He may even appreciate if our house didn’t often resemble an unnatural disaster. Nonetheless, he has never ever ever put me down. The right guy might not like the way you act all of the time; a great relationship certainly doesn’t necessitate liking and disliking all of the same things; but destructive criticism only comes from the wrong guy.
It may start that he doesn’t want to hang out with your friends; maybe he says he just can’t handle another family love-hate-fest. But if he starts slowly or suddenly cutting you off from close friends, family, co-workers, or the regular events you attend, you may wake up one day where you are completely isolated from the world. He doesn’t have to like all of your friends or family; he doesn’t even have to join you in seeing them. If he prevents you- no matter how sweetly- from maintaining your regular contact with your circle of support, run back to them and away from him. Of course if it’s “luv” you want to spend lots of time together, especially in the beginning, but there must always be a space in the world that is yours. If you allow him to take that space from you and separate you from the people you love and love you, look back at controlling and think ahead to the life that he is really offering.
Untreated Addiction or Mental Illness
Alcoholics Anonymous tells newly sober, single people that they shouldn’t date during their first year of recovery. I think that’s a good marker when looking for Mr. Right who has had issues with alcohol or other drugs, other addictions like gambling, or who has a treatablemental illness. If you’re choosing a guy, he should have already been actively choosing to treat his personal challenges. If you can’t fix him, you definitely can’t get him sober or make him an active participant in therapy and/or medication management. I am positively NOT saying that you cannot have a wonderfully neurotically loving relationship when one or both parties have had challenges with addiction or mental illness (nor am I even making a comparison between the two, so stop typing angry letters about this paragraph). What I am saying is, again, you can’t fix or change someone and untreated addiction or untreated mental illness inevitably leads to the rest of the traits you’re trying to avoid. If you’re already in a long-term relationship with someone who faces one of these obstacles, they have to get help now. If they don’t, think long and hard. If you stay: make sure that none of the other deal-breakers are going on in your relationship. If you find yourself saying “He was drunk and didn’t mean it,” look long and hard in the mirror. Just because someone is inebriated, doesn’t mean he has the right to make you feel small, hurt you, break things, or turn your life upside down.
Here are some big no-go’s about finances and Mr. Wrong: You should never be in a situation where he controls all of the money! Second, people lose jobs and look for jobs and are underemployed…and you may even meet the love of your life in the midst of such a crisis. However, if he has a track record of being unemployed or not being able to survive financially before his current crisis, it may be an unbreakable pattern. If he starts mooching off of you, suggests moving in for the finances and your cable t.v., has a history of living off of others and no real plan on how to get out…sweetie, this is not a good sign- he’s Mr. Right. I am not by any means saying that Mr. Right needs to be rich, or even not-quite-so-poor. What I am clearly saying is that he shouldn’t be controlling your money or the family money to the point where you are on an allowance. And unless he has a trust fund, is in graduate school, or you’re already married and he’s a great stay at home Dad, he should really get a job.
THERE IS NEVER ANY REASON FOR A MAN TO HIT A WOMAN. If you swear you would never let a man lay a hand on you in anger, and your guy hasn’t exhibited any of numbers one through six, you may be right. If he does, you swear you would get out, so great. A few warning signs can stop you from ever getting in that position: while I realize the jails are full of innocent men, if he has been known or accused of assaulting other women, really- who are you kidding? If he gets into drunken bar fights and comes to your door at 3 in the morning with black eyes and says, “you should see the other guy,” shut the door with him on the other side. Cruelty to animals is really not just a concern for the SPCA if you’re considering whether he’s right or wrong. If he has a mental illness- he needs to get help actively, not use anyone’s face as a therapeutic outlet. If it’s gotten to a point where you have been hit, punched, kicked, humiliated or hurt- there are agencies, people and organizations that can help you. I know getting out isn’t easy, and I didn’t the first or second time I was assaulted, but I did and you can too. An online list of international resources can be found at the Pixel Project.
Look, I fully realize that Mr. Wrong doesn’t mean Mr. Abusive (though to 20% of women it does.) And if he is criticizing you or isolating you or you find yourself walking on eggshells while around him, you don’t need to be hit to know he’s not the right guy for you. I know that my story might be on the dramatic side of the bad-relationship scale, but it doesn’t mean you need to stay with someone if he makes you feel small. If it’s gotten as bad as #7, I hope you get help, because every woman deserves better. But more than that, I hope for you are always one of the women who never experience violence and pay attention to the first six signs. I might not know you, but I know you deserve to be with the right guy. And really, no matter how unlikely it seems, the right guy is out there for you, so why waste your time with Mr. Wrong?
Please, I know enough to know I don’t know everything. If you think these signs are off- please let me know in the comments. Or share your worst of Mr. Wrong stories. While I touched on it, feel free to also share your signs of Mr. Right (or right enough.) And if you’ve been with a Mr. Really Really Wrong, or are still with him, the comments are anonymous, so feel free to write about him too. Thanks for reading. And good luck! If I could meet The Guy after 2 divorces and with 4 kids, it can happen to anyone!