Driving along the freeway the other day I saw a row of orange barrels marking a change in the traffic pattern. A large sign announced, "Construction Area". Drivers are trained to pay attention to the orange barrels. We know that something's going to change. We're entering a stretch of road that could be dangerous if we don't pay attention. We could hit a construction worker if we don't slow down.
There are orange barrels in relationships too. Markers, events, attitudes that warn us that we're about to enter a construction zone in the relationship. A zone where we may need to slow down, look alert for our own safety, or the safety of others. If we're not paying attention, we won't see the warning signs and end up in a relationship wreck.
What kind of orange barrels are we talking about?
In one instance, I was introduced to a man by a mutual friend. He was handsome and he was employed. The latter of which had become a requirement for dating me. My friend knew this man from seeing him at a local bar. When we started dating, I began meeting his friends. They would tell me stories of his being drunk and falling asleep in their bathtub. They told stories of his being drunk and wrecking his motorcycle. They told me dozens of drinking stories that were orange barrels, warning signs.
Yet I didn't see the barrels! He was handsome. He was charming. He didn't drink every day and I never really saw him drunk when we were dating. How could those drinking stories be orange barrels warning me of rough road ahead?
What about other relationships? Friendships? Workplace relationships? Are there orange barrels there? I believe there are.
Some of the orange barrels I have experienced included a new friend who would create emotional drama within group situations to get her own way. The entire group was afraid of upsetting her so they went along with what ever she wanted. I got caught up in that drama! Looking back, I could see all the warning signs were there to forecast the event. I just thought our friendship was stronger than her need for drama.
Whenever orange barrels appear in relationships, we have choices. We can slow down, stay in our lane, and watch for rough road ahead. We can choose to take the first exit. We can look for an alternative route.
In what instances have you ignored the warnings signs in a relationship and not followed the signs? How have you coped?
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