Maya Angelou is known to have said, “When a person shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This sentence of advice may sting after a betrayal. Or, it may provide a great reassurance.
Can you remember a relationship that ended badly? Any type of relationship will do well with this example, whether it be with a friend, relative, or lover. You can probably look back into your history with that person and remember the first time they said or did something that gave you pause, like a spiritual red flag. We’re all susceptible to these slips in judgement, this misalignment with people. Trial and error is how we find best friends, true loves, and kindred spirits.
However, sometimes you want something to be as you expected it so much, that you overlook spiritual red flag #1. And spiritual red flag #2. And of course, spiritual red flag #3, until you’re full blown involved in your latest dysfunctional relationship. Yes, we get better at recognizing spiritual red flags, but we don’t always get better at honoring their presence. Before you know it, you feel off-course and agitated and that dysfunctional relationship is feeling pretty comfortable and safe. You’ve passed all the spirtual red flags on the road, and now you’re facing glaring “WRONG WAY” signage. Hence the quote, “When a person shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Then again, sometimes things are not so cut and dry, especially in dealing with betrayal. Betrayal can be a poisonous bite from a venemous person. Or, It can be a self-sabotaging act of discontent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out to help sweep wrongdoings under the rug. I like to think my job is to help good couples keep it together and help loving families remain intact. Sometimes, betrayal is not a revelation of a who a person is, as we so often see on talk show TV and tabloid articles. Instead, betrayal can be a misguided and uncharacteristic attempt to feel better.
The social rule for betrayal–especially in love relationships–is, “LEAVE!” You’re almost expected to do this or you’ll be seen as weak and dependent of the person who betrayed you. What if you know who a person really is, based on what they’ve shown you for the last decade or so? And what if it’s not harmful? What if the past is filled with spiritual green go flags? Would you be willing to leave a kindred spirit over social expectations?