Navigating a New Relationship? Here Are Four Signs You Need to Put On the Brakes

I was an emotional wreck when I first learned how to drive. Timing a merge on the freeway freaked me out. Every time I approached traffic lights, I anxiously worried about whether to stop or go on yellow. 

I used to approach dating and driving the same way.  My first date was in my early twenties. I was in my first “real” relationship by the time I turned twenty-four. When I look back at those years, with over a decade of insight and experiences, I realize I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when it came to dating as a Catholic woman!

When it come to your experience as a single Catholic (on Catholic dating apps or offline!), it is important to know what are your red and green lights. It’s important to define what you must have and what you can’t stand when it comes to Catholic dating. 

One of the best books I have ever read on relationships is “The Seven Principles to Making Marriage Work” by Dr. John Gottman. I read the books several times as a single woman, and am always impressed with the research from Dr. Gottman, as well as his practical insights and tools to utilize in Catholic dating and romantic relationships.

What are things to look out for that should be greeted with an automatic “no”? What about signs to be on the lookout for that means good things are ahead? Here are some practical tips from Dr. Gottman’s work to help you navigate when to confidently move ahead in your relationship and when to put on the brakes.

These red flags mean STOP

In his research, Dr. Gottman discusses how quickly and easily he can predict whether a marriage will sink or swim. One of the relationship red flags he teaches is the principle of the four horsemen. They are:

  • Criticism – describing character flaws within your partner.
  • Defensiveness – Not taking responsibility for your own part in a wrongdoing or offense.
  • Contempt – Belittling or shaming your partner or taking a superior position with him or her.
  • Stonewalling – Shutting down or shutting out your partner.

Which of these relate most to you as a single Catholic man or woman? Are there any of these you see yourself struggling with in relationships? Why?

During your time logged into Catholic dating apps, do you notice any of these tendencies with the mem or women you’re getting to know?

You can start to notice whether or not these are appearing in your relationship even in the early stages. 

These are the green lights to look for in a Catholic dating relationship

While Dr. Gottman researches the reasons relationships fall apart, he also studies what makes relationships stand the tests of time. From his research, he found antidotes to the red flags mentioned above.

When you’re getting to know someone in the early stages of dating, look for the following behaviors as green flags. These are good things to observe and see in a relationship! It’s a good sign they can manage conflict and their own emotions and show you respect, even when you disagree on something. 

Gentle startup

Someone with this relationship skill discusses concerns and complaints by gently starting up the conversation.

They may say things like, “I noticed X, I feel X, I need X” instead of, “You always do X, you need to do X…”

Take responsibility

Instead of being defensive, this dating green flag habit helps you take responsibility for your words and actions.

People who take responsibility hear their partner out when they have a concern, validate the concern, and take pause before responding.

The ability to express what you’re feeling

The opposite of contempt is paying attention to and expressing your own feelings. Notice when you need to explore past experiences that may be leading you to feel anger or hostility toward your partner.

Self-soothing techniques

Someone with this green flag is able to pay attention to big feelings or emotions that may indicate a need to take a step back to self-soothe back to a calm, peaceful state.

If one of you needs to take a break, take it and let the other person give them space.

Navigate your way through Catholic dating apps with confidence!

We all know the beginning of a new relationship is full of happy hormones that help you bond to your partner. Learning to recognize the signs of a healthy partner can help you navigate all those feel-good feelings and see things a bit more clearly.

Look out for people who are critical, withdrawn, defensive, or contemptuous. 

Be curious. Pay attention to what you see and experience with the other person.

What are the red and green flags for you when it comes to dating and relationships?

How do you determine what to look for in dating or a serious relationship?

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