Cindy met Bill through her tennis club. He was charming, good-looking, and he swept her off her feet in a whirlwind courtship. Pushing for a quick marriage, he proposed after only two months. Though she felt a few flutters of anxiety, Cindy accepted, hoping for true love. Six months later, she deeply regretted the haste. Bill turned out to be both alcoholic and verbally abusive, with the threat of physical abuse lurking in the volatile atmosphere. Frightened, she moved out and filed for divorce. Later, she reflected on how she had gotten herself in such a painful place.
Something deep inside Cindy had sent up warning flares, telling her that she was moving too fast. But she’d plunged ahead, repressing her own better judgment, which was trying to get her to slow down. Why had she ignored the signals?
“I was afraid that if I told him I wanted to slow down, he might lose interest. He was so passionate, so full of life, and I felt so flattered that this great looking guy wanted me. All the women liked him. It wasn’t hard to imagine that he might drop me and move on to someone more willing.”
The high cost of ignoring your own signals? High-risk relationships and the likelihood of divorce. But most of all, the cost is to your own self-esteem, because the bottom line is that you let yourself down. You failed at your most basic job in life: taking care of you.
These days, Cindy is reluctant to accept even the most seemingly safe dates. She doesn’t trust herself, fearful of repeating the past and making another disastrous mistake. Self-forgiveness is the hardest when we know we didn’t protect ourselves.
The lesson is simple: never let your desire for a particular person override your common sense. When your gut is screaming at you, listen, honor what it is telling you, and proceed with caution.