Stop Staring at the Red Flag in Your Date’s Eye


It’s easy to talk about red flags in relationships. You notice something that raises concerns, you pull the plug on the potential, and head for the hills. This train of thought makes us feel all good and self-righteous and gets us thinking about how wonderful we are and what perfect, fantabulous partners we all deserve.

But then somebody has to go ask a question that brings us right back down to earth. In this case, the question was “what if you’re the one with the red flags?”

It's easy to notice other people's flags, but do you raise your own red flags in relationships?Click To Tweet

Naaaah. None of us here could possibly be the problem in a relationship, could we?

Well, according to the law of averages, it would seem that at least half of us would be, given that there are two people in every relationship. (Unless there are just a few “problem” people who are really getting around, which is also a good possibility.) The law of original sin suggests that the numbers could be much, much higher.

So, what about you is broken?

I’ve written many, many times about how much I hate the question “So why aren’t you married?” There is just no good “sound bite” answer that seems satisfactory. It’s like they’re asking “So, what are the deep hidden flaws that obviously must repel all of your potential suitors?”

Asking other people why they aren't married is rude. But asking ourselves is vital.Click To Tweet

It’s not a polite question to ask others. But I think it’s a very, very good question to ask ourselves, and to ask God. “Seriously, why exactly is it that I’m not married?” Because the truth is that we’re all wounded, and we all bring our woundedness into our dating relationships. And it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that there may be wounds—whether we’re aware of them or not—that are getting in the way of finding our “happily ever after.”

I realize we’re moving into very uncomfortable territory. We much prefer to chalk it all up to “there aren’t any good men out there” or “I can’t find anyone who shares my faith” or “everyone I meet is too this or too that.” And all of that that may be true.

Believe me, I know it is difficult

God knows it’s difficult to find a partner who shares our faith in a society where so few really practice it. And a lot of people who would otherwise be called to marriage are single today because of that. But I hate the thought of singles chalking it all up to “a good man (or woman) is hard to find,” when in actuality they are in need of healing in some areas.

I’m sure the potential wounds that could hamper a marriage search would be as varied as the unique individuals who make up the singles population. No two people are identical, so no two wounds could be identical. The list would probably run the spectrum from the glaringly obvious (a personality so obnoxious that nobody wants to get close) to the extremely subtle (unconscious fears that lead a single person to chose unavailable or unsuitable people to date, etc.)

What are they saying about us?

There are obvious things we can do to try to become more aware of obstacles we face when it comes to marriage. We can listen to the people we date. Granted, they may have issues of their own. But they’ve also had a front-row seat to how we function in a relationship. Whether it’s in the context of an argument or the context of a breakup, that person is going to be offering plenty of “feedback” that could be useful. If you hear the same thing—the same complaints, the same observations—over and over, there’s probably something there you need to pay attention to.

But in the end, there will always be parts of ourselves that we won’t be able to see. Don’t despair. Either way—whether we understand what’s going on or not—the solution is the same.

We go to God. We pray for healing.

Three steps to healing

The first step, if we’re aware of any factor that involves unrepented sin on our part, is to go to confession.

The second step is to go to God and ask for enlightenment. In a spirit of prayer, in a quiet place where we have a lot of time, we ask Him to show us, to the extent He wills it, any woundedness that is interfering in our quest for the vocation of marriage. And then we listen for the answer. We continue to listen after prayer time is over. The next day, we go back and do it again. And again, and again. We thank him for any insights we receive. We tell Him we trust Him, over and over, even when we don’t hear answers.

Steps to heal: 1. Go to Confession 2. Ask for insight 3. Pray for healingClick To Tweet

And we pray for healing. Whether we’re clear on what needs healing or not, we ask Him. Because He knows, even if we don’t. We continue to ask him to heal whatever wounds we’re aware of, and those we don’t know about. We take time with Him. We ask His Mother to guide us and to help us pray.

Pray this before going to sleep

There is a short little prayer that I say every night. I believe it’s powerful, and I highly recommend you say it too:


Through the power of the Holy Spirit, go back into my memory as I sleep. Every hurt that has been done to me—heal that hurt. Every hurt that I have caused to another person—heal that hurt. All the relationships that I have damaged in my whole life that I am not aware of—heal those relationships.

But, Lord, if there is anything that I need to do—if I need to go to a person because he is still suffering from my hand, bring to me awareness of that person. I choose to forgive and I ask to be forgiven. Remove whatever bitterness may be in my heart, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with your Love. Thank you Jesus.


I think that, with God, healing is often a long process—like peeling away layers of an onion. It takes time, dedication and consistency in prayer.

Which strikes me as a good reason to start now.





  1. Michael-369664 February 15, 2017 Reply

    Great article–it’s too bad it came along for me so late. I think you know early in life whether or not marriage is your calling. I never felt it was mine since I never wanted children. I never enjoyed dating either. After five dates total in my life, I quit. Except for taxes and dealing with cancer, I’ve never hated anything more than dating. The prospects I got from 35 on were dreadful. Online dating really didn’t give me better choices either. I was never able to date younger in life when I should have due to lack of resources and no guidance from my parents. I hope all parents help their kids during those precious dating years 16-21. If mine had done so, I might have married or at least had enjoyable dates. It’s tough to face old age as a single since health is such an issue for many of us. A partner would really be such a help.

  2. Carol Lynn-1376482 February 14, 2017 Reply

    This article, together with seeking Jesus’s love first, seems like a perfect recipe for HAPPINESS! Thanks for sharing your insightful inspirations!

  3. Maureen-975354 February 14, 2017 Reply

    I appreciate what you wrote because I can immediately apply it to my life. Through God’s grace, I’m trying to learn to trust again. I don’t blame anyone for any wrong they may have done to me. However, it’s hard to forget the pain. Consequently I ask God repeatedly for his love and guidance in this area.
    Thank you again for your article. It helped me a lot! Take care!

  4. Justice-1414540 February 6, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for this post. Wow, so simple . . . I will take this into Lent with me.

  5. Magdalena-1401855 February 3, 2017 Reply

    I think the reason people can’t find a spouse is people need to get real- they give such high expectations and judge people.

  6. Maria-734416 February 3, 2017 Reply

    Very enlightening post! Will begin today!

  7. Mike-639276 February 3, 2017 Reply

    Very nice. Thank you!

  8. Renee-1099332 February 1, 2017 Reply

    Good thoughts to ponder. And as we begin to see our own “red flags” maybe we could take the time to think about the fact that if we are marriageable even with our own failings, maybe that other person is also. Perfection is never a requirement for marriage–only a willingness to get back up after falling and try again.

  9. Tom-1334397 February 1, 2017 Reply

    I hope you receive over a thousand reads in my geographical area. Perhaps we all miss a critical factor of workability. Catholic couples can get out of the sewer of their psychological garbage, (which we all carry around) if we prayer together. If you feel like running, commit to saying a Rosary together in the morning and a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 pm.

  10. Leanne-387609 January 31, 2017 Reply

    I like the prayer that you shared. I think I will say it before going to bed now.

  11. Anne-1158588 January 31, 2017 Reply

    Yes indeed, self-reflection and prayer do wonders for growth in all areas of our life. How did we get to this point? Let the Lord help us see ourselves and the choices we have made clearly so that we can go where he is truly wanting to lead us. Let us be open to HIS will, let go of the past if we have not and keep forgiving those who have hurt us until one day we truly do feel in our hearts that we have forgiven them. It can be a process. These are all good points for reflection. Thank you!

  12. Dave-146273 January 30, 2017 Reply

    On point.. and thank you for the reminder We All need.

  13. Michelle-1021304 January 30, 2017 Reply

    Spot on article! Very true and very valuable. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Dan-1405968 January 30, 2017 Reply

    Very nice article and a good reminder to take a good look in the mirror at ourselves and our own flaws and show God’s grace to others as we search for our mate.

    Thank you.

  15. Zen-1019089 January 30, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful post…. very uplifting . I love the prayer you shared, I would definitely say this before going to bed.

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