How to STOP Leading People On

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, For the Guys, For the Ladies, Relationships, Single by Debra Fileta

I was prepared for a specific response from readers when I posted my last article called “How to NEVER Get Led-On Again”.  I expected to get messages and emails from women across the country, telling me stories of their experiences in getting led-on, and committing to taking control of their lives so that it would never happen again.    

But what I didn’t expect- was all the response I got from the men.  I received numerous messages from guys who had felt “convicted” and “challenged” after reading the article, realizing that they have played a part in leading girls on whether it be intentionally, or unintentionally.  Many of them sincerely apologetic, wondering what they can do from this point onward to be deliberate with the women in their lives so as not to send mixed messages. 

Let me just pause for a minute and say this: YAY, MEN!  I was floored by these interactions, because I really see God’s hand at work within the lives of this generation, challenging us to get serious about doing relationships right, to do relationships better.  And so many people are responding.  There is something really encouraging about that- and it fills me with hope.    

So, how did I respond to these men?  I put a lot of thought into the question of how to stop leading people on, and my conclusion can be boiled down to one simple statement that applies to men and women alike when it comes to the world of dating and relationships.  The answer is this:

Be sure your actions always reflect your words.   

When I think back on my history of relationships, and reflect on the hundreds of emails I get every month, I think it really comes down to this one thing.  The most confusing relationships are rooted in the ambiguity of the unspoken.  Whether the man or the woman is doing the “leading-on”, one thing is always the same: Words and actions are misaligned.

You say you’re “just friends” but then treat her like she’s your girlfriend. 

You say you’re committed to him, but then interact with other guys like you’ve got no strings attached. 

The bottom line in healthy relationships is that you need to say what you mean, and then do what you say.  When it comes to the opposite sex- take inventory of the people in your life, and then make yourself accountable to how you are treating them. Are your actions reflecting your words?  Do your words back up your actions?  If not, what are you gaining from these ambiguous relationships? 

There’s a good chance that whatever it is, it’s rooted in selfishness.  We are called to love others and treat them in a way that builds up, encourages, and edifies.  For some reason, we cut ourselves some slack when it comes to the world of dating and romantic relationships. 

What it comes down to is that building a healthy relationship in the future, starts with having healthy relationships in the here and now.  Learning to establish appropriate boundaries in your life with the opposite sex is not a skill you magically acquire when you’re married, but one that you have to build and establish throughout the entirety of your life…every single day. 

It’s time to take ownership of your actions and interactions with others.  Either it’s time to back that talk up with how you live your life…or it’s time to stop talking.  Can I get an amen?