Dates Need Adequate Product Safety Labeling

By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.F.T.

Such consumer-oriented labeling as "Warning: this date may be hazardous to your emotional health" or "Lifetime unconditional love guarantee" should be easily visible on each new date.  Unfortunately, the only labeling you may find on your next date may be a patch of material that says "Polo" or "Dockers."  This, however, is insufficient data and fails to give even the slightest clue regarding:

  • what they are made of,
  • if exposed to hot water whether they will shrink or need one, or
  • if they will wrinkle, fade, or run from commitment.

So how do you know what you are getting into or if your potential partner will even fit your needs?  How do you know if your relationship is destined for the recycle shop or if it is durable enough to weather many seasons of the heart?  Although you can never take all the risk out of relationships, what you can do is attempt to put the odds of success more in your favor. Potential mates don't come with adequate product safety labeling but there are recognizable signs, "stop signs" and "warning signs", that can let you know if the "Joe Camel" you are going out with is potentially dangerous to your emotional health.  These signs and signals can alert you to potential problems that can lead the unaware down the road to relationship ruin.  Some of the possible "stop signs" and the potential relationship problems that they may be warning you of include:




Your date becomes very angry over little things. His anger seems disproportionate to the event.He may be a rageaholic. He may have stored lots of past anger that he will eventually aim at you.
He is extremely critical toward himself, puts himself down. He seems to be an extreme perfectionist.In time, that criticism will be directed toward you too. He may expect the unreasonable. 
He bounces checks, has credit problems, unpaid parking tickets, is always late, and makes commitments then breaks them.You're not dealing with a grown-up. You may be signing up to be his Mommy. You can't fix him!
Your date can't have fun without drinking.  He structures his social activities and free time around bars.He's a potential alcoholic and he may also be addicted to other substances.
Your date frequently flirts with other women. He makes suggestive comments to your friends and likes "men's clubs".He may be a sex addict. You'll never feel secure. He could be unfaithful and unavailable emotionally.
He has no long-term friends, few acquaintances, and no long-term relationships. Forget the excuses, this is someone who is unable to bond with others. You won't last long either.
He is an emotional wreck. He seems to desperately need someone to heal his broken heart and help him get his life back on track.When you've exhausted yourself nursing him back to health, he won't be there for you. That's not his role. He's the victim.
Your date avoids talking about his past, especially his childhood. He says "what's over is over" and "I just don't think about it."He could be hiding major unresolved emotional problems from childhood. Those problems will surface with anyone with whom he gets close. 
He has just ended a several-year relationship. He says he is over her and ready to start dating again. Rebound alert! He may want to be ready to date but probably isn't. He may yet go back to his ex-partner. 
Your date is uncomfortable with the idea of marriage counseling. He insists that the two of you can handle any problem that might come up. If a major problem does emerge, he won't be open to help.  He may be unable to face problems or even talk about serious issues. Look out! 

Ignoring these "stop signs", and the warnings they signal, can create huge relationship problems.  Denying, minimizing, rationalizing, or in some other way making excuses for the other person is usually a form of self-deception.  This is a way that people often set themselves up for some very painful consequences.


It is not always easy shopping for the love of your life.  The product safety labeling isn't prominently displayed.  But there are warning signs, stop signs, and behavioral tags that tell the truth about what they are made of.


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