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Romance red flags to look out for before you say "I do"

Getting hitched?

In the movie Hitch, Will Smith states, “No woman wakes up saying, God, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today.” It’s so true. However, I can’t help but also think about how important it is for women today to really know when it is real love, as opposed to just some heady rush of emotions that can lead us into making really stupid decisions.

Confused woman being proposed to

At the beginning of this year I did something no woman ever dreams of doing: I broke off an engagement. It was the hardest decision I have ever made because I knowingly broke someone's heart while also breaking my own. There is nothing fun about this process. He proposed after four months of dating and I took the sheer quickness of our relationship to mean he just really loved me. I'm sure he did, but I was not ready. In hindsight, I should have said no, but I was madly in love… and thought I could just catch up. The problem was just that: I loved him, so much that I ignored my intuition… my vision was clouded from a fast-moving, whirlwind of a romance that would make any girl swoon. It was crazy, stupid, love.

Relationships that move at lightning speed usually end up crashing and burning at some point. We seem to get caught up in either the newness or potential. Then we toy with the idea of rushing the process along because it seems more "romantic." But, I'm learning that as much as I want to be swept off my feet, I more so want to build a sturdy foundation to stand on with someone. Anyone can ask a girl for her hand in marriage; it is the 50 years after that moment that really matter.

Runaway bride

As painful as it has been to go through a broken engagement this year, I am so grateful for the experience. I've learned more about myself than ever before. I now have a keen sense of what to watch out for when it comes to dating in the fast lane. I can spot the romance red flags almost instantly and I can especially notice the Million Mile a Minute Men.

These white knights are the manly men who always seem to get what they want in life and they get it fairly instantaneously. They are the racecar drivers in the world of ultimate speed dating: smart, funny, good-looking, the life of the party. They land the big accounts, score all the points and conquer any quest in their path. This is all extremely attractive except when it comes to matters of the heart. Million Mile a Minute Men like a good chase in dating — the harder to get, the better. They have everything they want in life, but the one missing puzzle piece: The Wife. Anyone who further augments their reputation will do — a local celebrity, model, star, etc. They wine and dine like it's going out of style, take you all over the world on jet-setting adventures, buy you Jimmy Choo's and sprinkle conversations with compliments and quick I love you's — distracting you from reality. But, what happens once the hunt is over and they slip the ring on your finger?

Here are some of the top romance red flags you should be looking out for, ladies:

He wants to be your boyfriend after the first date

You've only made it through your spinach artichoke dip and he says he thinks you two would make a great "power couple." Um, what? He doesn't really know you yet, so how could he already want to pursue an exclusive relationship with you? This isn't romantic; it is scary.

He introduces you to his family and wants to meet yours within the first week

This one is tough because I really love my family and always want them to know the man I'm dating. However, meeting the family so early on instantly accelerates the process. Involving those closest to you and getting their approval makes you think the quickness is "ok" because your family supports you.

He takes you on Bachelor-style dates… almost every weekend

Taking trips and going on fun dates with your boyfriend is wonderful, but be on the lookout when you're never at home enjoying "normal life" and your dates are so extravagant (all the time) that you feel like Chris Harrison is about to show up in the middle of your candlelight dinner, on a boat, off the coast of Bora Bora… and it has only been two weeks. Don't be distracted by all the glitz and glam — that shouldn't be the focus.

He says "I love you" within the first two months

No one loves you the minute they meet you, except for your mom. Real love takes its time, settles in and stays awhile. If he says he loves you and he doesn't even remember your middle name, then we've got a major red flag. This guy just wants to be in love. He does not really love you; he just thinks he does because he is lonely and simply wants to be in a relationship. Watch out for these ones — they're all signs that you're not dealing with someone stable. Love is a choice, not a feeling.

He says he wants to marry you within the first three months… and he isn't drunk when he says it

This seems like the most romantic thing a guy can say to a girl, but marriage is a really big deal. It is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in life and it should not be taken lightly. After a few months, maybe hearing "I want to take you on a weekend getaway" or "Do you want to meet my parents?" is great, but "Hi, I've known you for 12 weeks, let's spend forever together!" is a giant, burning, red flag. It's important to know each other's best and worst sides and wait until you understand who you both are as a couple. So much is learned about one another after being with someone after three months, six months and even a year. A friend once told me that you should date a person through every season. People change with the weather and you want to know exactly who you are saying "yes" to.

I know the tips above seem pretty obvious or standard and make sense, but when we're in the thick of a crazy, stupid, fast kind of love, we can be, well, crazy and stupid. If you know what to look out for before you say "I do," you will have a better chance of having the kind of relationship that lasts a lifetime, not just a grandiose, fleeting moment.

No need to rush for fear of it losing its fizz. Real love would never "fizzle." Real love is in it for the long haul. It is full of compromise and putting the other person before yourself. Real love doesn't involve pressure or timelines or what anyone else thinks. It is pure, organic and does not hurry up the process. Time really does heal and giving someone the time they need is one of the most loving things a person can do. If they won't give you that, then give it to yourself. Time has been good to me and I'm ready now… I'm ready for the kind of love that gives me something steady to stand on, instead of sweeping me off my feet.

More relationship red flags

5 Relationship red flags
4 No-fail signs it's time to move on
4 Signs he might not be the one

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