Several weeks back, my friend Twanna told me about how, on a few occasions, she’s been chatted up only to glance down and realise that their wedding band is in their pocket. She was, of course, outraged at the audacity of them. Merry from a few glasses of red wine, I wisecracked that when she encounters any of this shady behaviour, she’s got to hit her ‘mental flush handle’. We were in stitches laughing, and proceeded to tell more stories and make the flush noise.
Since that night, I’ve found myself telling people to hit their Mental Flush Handle as a way to distance themselves from inappropriate people and situations. It’s a mental acknowledgement of your boundaries and values.
It says NEXT! Like in Little Britain, it says ‘Computer says NO’ or ‘application denied‘. Or, more importantly, it says, ‘I have enough self-respect and self-love not to even contemplate opening myself up to this BS‘. This is especially so when you have enough experience to know how these situations pan out. Stop trying to be the exception to the rule.
This week I’ve written about how dating doesn’t equal a relationship and understanding code red and code amber behaviour that signals either opt out or stop, look, and listen and only proceed with caution on a full assessment.
If you’re dating and have a genuine desire to be in a mutually fulfilling, healthy relationship with love, care, trust, and respect that has more than the hallmarks of a relationship and actually has the landmarks, you need to have your code amber and red awareness in full effect and operate your mental flush handle.
I hear from people who encounter situations like Twanna’s all the time.
- The person that fails to show up for a date.
- That certain someone that forgets to call but remembers to make contact when they want a shag/ego stroke/money etc
- The person drunk before the date has started or by the time the meal arrives and then drunk on all subsequent dates.
- The one that’s rude and obnoxious or is slipping in sneaky put-downs.
- That person that claims they didn’t tell you they were married/attached because they were afraid it would scare you off?
It’s spending the date texting other people or looking over your shoulder at their next target.
It’s being stoned, making an extremely sexual reference, and crying about their ex within 30 minutes of a first date. It happened to me! I didn’t know he was stoned) and thankfully, it was the last date.
You’ve got to know when to fold, and you’ve got to know when to flush.
Irrespective, for instance, of how much you fancy your date, you don’t know them well enough for you to feel so invested that shady behaviour is remotely acceptable.
Think about it. If you receive an inappropriate message from someone you haven’t met yet, or they chat you up even though they’re attached, or they get really intense and jealous and you’ve barely known them a wet minute, week, or month, what can you be seeing that warrants you overlooking, making excuses for, denying, rationalising?
As I said in my post about dating doesn’t equal relationship, dating is a discovery phase. It might be a precursor to a relationship but equally might not be. Your job is to do the discovery work, not to proceed regardless of what reveals itself.
People and relationships unfold.
If you’re someone that experiences something and then disregards it or makes excuses, how much you’ll disregard and how far you’ll go with the excuses dictates how deep you’ll get into an unhealthy relationship.
If you have a high propensity to disregard and excuse, you’re likely to be involved in abusive relationships. This means a ‘No Disregard & Excuse policy’ is highly beneficial for keeping you in reality and safe.
Know your boundaries, recognise amber and red signals, and stop fearing hitting the flush handle on inappropriate behaviour. Remember that when you know what your line is, others know it too. Why? Because they’re not over it or busting it up. Instead, they’re experiencing consequences and reality.
Operating your Mental Flush Handle requires you to have an honest conversation with you. You need to acknowledge your needs and values, and crucially, acknowledge your discomfort and boundaries. When something feels off, it’s critical to regiter what that means about the person or the relationship you envisioned.
Don’t be one of those people that thinks, ‘Oh, they must be really interested in me (or their marriage must have mega problems) if they’re chatting me up.’ Don’t think, ‘Maybe they’re having a bad day/week/month. That’s why they don’t have time to call me or put themselves into the relationship’. If you do, by not pushing your mental flush handle, you’re giving over mental and emotional space to someone and a relationship that’s undeserving of it.