It’s an ugly metaphor, but dead-on accurate, if you’ll forgive the pun. Roadkill is heartbreakingly sad. These poor unsuspecting innocent animals get struck and eviscerated by a car or truck. The thing is, though, that the big bad vehicle that ran them down was exactly where it was supposed to be, traveling down the road. It was the opossum, squirrel, deer, dog or cat that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were in their own world, unaware they were in any danger, not paying attention to the path they were on. They went to the road, the road did not come to them. How can they be so careless, so oblivious to the risk? Simple, just ask someone in love, or more specifically, someone in love with the wrong person.
A red flag in auto racing is a warning that conditions are too unsafe to continue, and a relationship red flag is commonly thought of in the same way. Do a quick Internet search, and you’ll find countless lists compiled by all sorts of people telling you what things about a potential partner raise red flags that should be deal breakers. Dump him if he can’t say “I love you” or hasn’t put a ring on your finger after the first year. Ditch her if she judges your love by the price tag on the gifts you had better keep giving her. Run for the hills if he’s too attached to his mother, or she’s a spoiled Daddy’s Girl. Don’t even try to compete if her dog comes first, or his kids run the household, he’s too messy, she’s too fussy, he’s always off with his chums, she’s always shopping, and the lists go on and one, ad nauseam. These lists may be somewhat helpful in that they give you a few things to reflect on, but the problem is that they’ve been compiled according to someone else’s wants, needs, and desires. No such list can speak for you, because only you know what you want, need, and are willing to put up with. Yet, there is an even bigger issue to address.
The red flags you really need to heed are not the ones raised by your intended, but those raised by you, yourself, by what you do or don’t do in the relationship. If your partner is living their life in a way that is true to who they are, but you’re doing things that are not true to who you are or not what’s best for you, personally, you’re headed for trouble. There are red flags that can guide you away from disaster if you’re willing to see them: Do you get that uneasy feeling in your gut, that sinking feeling, sense of uneasiness, touch of anxiety, when you find yourself trying to make excuses for your partner after they say or do something that isn’t quite right or hurts your feelings? Have you been gaining weight, skipping work, drinking more, snooping though you’ve never invaded someone’s privacy before, pretending to like football, ballroom dancing, auto shows, antiquing, or engaging in any other behavior that is either self-destructive or a charade? Do you find yourself spending money you don’t have, trying to fit in with their friends while you see your friends less or not at all, neglecting your home and chores to spend time with them, or seriously considering changing jobs or relocating away from family and friends to move in with them, all because you fear you’ll lose the relationship if you don’t?
A successful relationship doesn’t require that you share all the same needs and interests, just that you accommodate each other’s needs and interests as you travel a mutual path you chart together. If, instead, you’re so consumed with supporting where the relationship is going that you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you create the very real risk that you’ll end up in the wrong place at the wrong time as your partner’s needs and priorities run you down and wipe you out. When that happens, whether you stay together or break up, you’ll be left behind anyway, battered, confused and emotionally devastated as they continue moving on down their road, pitying you, but blaming you for getting in their way.
It’s when you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing wrong, where you’re going wrong, that you get blind-sided by love. Watch your step! Don’t end up romantic roadkill!