By Joanna Lamb No explanation, no punctuation. At first I assumed it was a mistake—a random stranger had sent me a message meant for someone else, right?
But no, it was definitely from her. A few minutes later came another message. It was Saturday, close to midnight, and I had been about to drift off after a rockin night in with Netflix.
Then it came to our final date before I was due to head back home. We had dinner in Soho and, after a few glasses of wine, our discussion got heated. Not in relation to our relationship but about the constant complaints she had about her ex. I was curious about why she was still so angry so I asked her to elaborate. I realized she was literally refusing to take any responsibility for the break-up and I figured she might appreciate a different perspective ok so hindsight tells me this might not have been the best timing, but anyway… I explained that, outside of domestic violence, we are always partially responsible for any conflict in a relationship—by definition it takes two people to argue.
I gently suggested that she may have been as much to blame as her ex. She clearly didn't agree. But she said it was good to be challenged, that she needed it sometimes.
We parted with hugs and tidings of mutual appreciation, invitations to catch up whenever we were in the same city again. It came totally out of the blue and seemed completely out of character. It got me thinking about dating and how well you can ever really know a complete stranger.
I realized that I had never met any of her long-standing friends or her family. Nor had she met any of mine. We had never been in any stressful or awkward situations together. And I had taken everything she said at face value.
I had assumed that if she felt something, good or bad, she would just say it to my face, just as I did to her. Then it dawned on me that this was perhaps one of the most stupid assumptions I have ever made.
Most of us assume that we can spot someone who is going to be bad for us a mile away, but our dating history usually proves the total opposite. So how can we learn to spot the wrong girl?
From my experience there are a few tell- tale ways to help you figure out if your new gf might not be for you. If she talks repeatedly about how awful her ex or exes! Except in cases of domestic violence and abuse, both parties should accept that they are responsible for conflict. There are two people in a relationship and, by definition, conflict requires at least two people to partake.
But the other person has to react for it to turn into an argument. Taking a mini-break or for the brave, a full-blown vacation together has a funny way of exposing the cracks in our dating armour.
Beware though - if you have been hiding your nastiest traits, they may well sneak out when you least expect it. Listen to how she talks about her friends or, even better, meet them. This is a useful judge of character for anyone, but for a potential gf it is particularly effective. You can learn a lot about a person from how they interact with people whose job it is to serve you. Take note of how she interacts with waitstaff, bar tenders, bellboys, cleaners, secretaries, delivery staff, taxi drivers, fast food servers and so on.
But if she is consistently rude to strangers then you need to ask yourself what it was you saw in her in the first place. Sounds pretty simple but we have all missed this one at least once myself included. If we learn to read the signs better early on, we might save ourselves the time and trouble of dating someone who would be better off seeing a therapist than spending her free time browsing through HER.
Just be kind and honest and walk away slowly. As for Dana, after politely asking her to explain her messages and receiving more abuse, I calmly said sorry for anything I might have done that hurt her feelings, wished her well and quietly deleted her from my social media and phone contacts. Angry people are never happy people.
Go talk to someone, read some self-help. Get the joy back in your life and only then find a woman who makes you smile all day long.