“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” – Matthew 10:16

Seriously? You’ve been dating for how long and your boyfriend/girlfriend dumped you on Valentine’s Day? With 365 days in a year, you would think that they would have found a better one to let you go. Perhaps Groundhog Day? Arbor Day, maybe?

On the bright side, you now know that they weren’t a keeper after all. Now, save yourself a lot of grief by recognizing the warning signs that you know are there but refuse to admit to. Ask yourself these questions for starters:

Are they a Christian?

Men and women both hate this question, and yet it is the most important one when starting a new relationship. Take this example: A Christian girl meets a guy and the two of them hit it off right away. She dates him a few times and wonders if the relationship was worth pursuing or not. When asked if the new fellow is a Christian, she says, “I’m not sure,” as if the subject never came up before. This is such a rookie mistake. If you have no intention of marrying a non-Christian, then why in the world would you be dating one? Missionary dating rarely works and is never recommended. Maybe he is a Christian… technically… but his faith must not mean much to him or he would have broached the subject to you before now, wouldn’t he? The longer you date someone without your same faith, the harder it will be to let him go.

Are they married?

You laugh, but it happens. Consider this scenario: A Christian woman catches the eye of a co-worker. She doesn’t mind, as she’s bored with her own marriage. After enjoying each other’s company at work, the fellow decides to ask her out. They have a great time and everything was going well until she mentioned that she hadn’t gotten a divorce yet. Yet? Either the break up is pretty new or they just haven’t gotten around to signing the paperwork. Either way, you lose. Either your new love interest hasn’t healed up from that relationship and is on the rebound or the idea of keeping a strong marriage is not a priority to her. Do you really want to mess with that?

Do they live at home?

The sad sack who is 35 and still lives home with his parents is a stereotype, for sure. But sometimes it’s a woman who still lives at home. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it’s not a good sign. Some older adults live with their parents because they can’t pay their bills. Others stay home because they never cut the apron strings. Both cases spell trouble for you in the long run. No matter how fun they are to be with, it’s just not worth getting involved with someone who needs to check in with mom or dad every hour or so. Instead, look for an adult.

Do you have the same values?

You don’t drink, he does. He won’t go to rated “R” movies, you like films with a little edge to them. You’re a virgin and plan to stay that way until your wedding night, him… not so much. They say that opposites attract, and that’s true, but that isn’t always the best indicator for a relationship. As long as you two have the most important priorities in line, you should be able to overlook the few annoying activities that your boyfriend/girlfriend enjoys. However, if their hobbies take up more time than you are comfortable with or if you question how ethical they are, those are red flags to take notice of.

Are you happy without them?

This isn’t a trick question. The best partner is someone who will add to your life, not be your life. If you find yourself miserable when you are not with them, then maybe you need to get your life in order before you drag them down. As a Christian, your source of happiness and joy should come from your relationship with God and your relationship with your partner should only enhance that.

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