The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.
The inner voice is a beautiful thing. If heeded, it can act like a Geiger counter to detect potentially harmful situations. In really serious situations it may seem to shout, but at other times, say at the beginning of a relationship, it may be perceived as a whisper. Heed it all the same, regardless of the intensity.
Consider this relatively benign, perhaps trite, but nevertheless heartbreaking example. I had the pleasure of meeting a man for the first time over brunch. He seemed smart, savvy, sexy, and we even ordered the same item on the menu – waffles with strawberries. I was so captivated by his charming stories, particularly the one with a spot-on Elvis imitation, that I did not pay attention to my food.
When he paused to eat, I glanced down at our place settings. His plate was perfectly organized – the strawberries had been quartered and arranged neatly in the upper left quadrant while the waffles were perfectly stacked and he was cutting them with the precision and intensity of a neurosurgeon along the grid lines and then dipping them in a small pool of maple syrup that clung to one side of the plate. My plate, on the other hand, was a mess compared to his! It had not even occurred to me to try to impress him by following suit and putting the food in some sort of geometric pattern or order as I consumed it.
At that moment, my inner voice told me that the relationship was a non-starter – that it was doomed to fail. I chose to ignore it, despite the fact that it had never failed me in the past.
Over time we discovered many commonalities, but we also discovered many differences. Our diametrically opposed skill sets might have complimented each other, but in our case his rigidity that I flagged in the first encounter translated into an inflexible attitude toward problem solving and intolerance for other points of view. Close, but no cigar was his assessment of the relationship and he was right! We both chose to pursue other situations, but I regret that I squandered several precious years with him when I might have directed my energies toward finding a better match.