I once dated a man who lived in enough filth to shock a health department worker. He fell in love with me at 60 miles a second and lied to me equally enthusiastically. When I first saw his chaotic lifestyle, I wondered what it reflected about his character. Then I took to my judgemental thoughts with a large bottle of bleach. I conjured up a generous dose of acceptance and a hundred excuses for his behaviour.
In the end, I found out that his conscience was as messy as his life, and if I’d honoured my “judgement” from the start, I would have avoided months of anarchy.
He ticked off just about every red flag I knew. I’ve read them so often I can rattle them off by rote, so lord knows I can spot them. The trouble is I only apply that knowledge in retrospect. My confirmation bias is shockingly underdeveloped when it comes to romance. I do not, I repeat, do not look at red flags before I can confirm what they point to because that would be too critical, too mean, too damned perfectionistic.
Nope. I’m a kind person. I love the man even if he commits way too early and shows up way too late. Isn’t that what compassion looks like?
I once dated a man who bought me yellow tulips. He took me on romantic dates, told me the truth, and had a work life that was as adult as his years. He didn’t throw up a single red flag. In short, he treated me with unfailing compassion, so I didn’t have to work at obliterating my judgement because there wasn’t any.
Gavin de Becker said, “Only human beings can look directly at something, have all the information they need to make an accurate prediction, and then say that it isn’t so.” He says intuition is a gift, but the one thing he never taught was that I deserved my own compassion. All the kindness I was sending to my chaotic ex would have been better spent on myself.
If accepting a partner requires me to put aside self-compassion, my “judgement” is not the problem. My denial is. It’s okay to reject men who throw up red flags. It’s okay to decide they’re not good enough two months into a relationship. It’s morethan okay to judge. Hell, that’s the only thing sitting between me and the next abusive person who comes my way so that I’m available for the man who brings me tulips.