The "You're Being Played" Checklist

Life is way too short to allow yourself to be played in relationships. Don’t waste your time with the hope that if you play along long enough, he will make a commitment. Don’t deplete your energy hoping that if you show her how great you are, she will stop stringing you along and settle down.

I developed this checklist to help you determine whether you’re being played in your current relationship and to help you date smarter in future relationships. This checklist is best suited for couples in the earlier stages of dating – 90 days or less – when you’re paying attention to his or her actions, thoughts and words and deciding if he or she is someone you want to commit to long term.

How to use the checklist –

Write a list of your dating non-negotiables; some of which might be automatic deal breakers. Consider being conservative with your list. If you experience 1-7 of the items below, mark it as a yellow light and have an honest conversation about each one. If you experience 8 or more, it may be time to move on from the relationship.

1. The relationship is not moving forward.

Your partner tells you he/she wants commitment, love, kids, a house, etc. but never follows through on those wants. Your relationship is pretty close to being exactly where it was when you first got together. The only time there’s movement is when he/she thinks you’re about to leave.

2. The relationship is one-sided.

He/she gives you the impression that you’ve become a part of his/her current life. Your needs, wants and interests are secondary and while most new couples enjoy discovering fun activities together, your relationship is all about your partner. He/she isn’t interested in building a life with you, but stringing you along for the ride.

3. Your emotions are being manipulated.

You feel like you’re a puppet and your partner is controlling the strings. When you attempt to take the lead, there’s always drama. You often feel like you’re on a rollercoaster ride that never seems to stop. Sometimes you can’t even remember what started the ride.

4. You are made to feel inferior.

Self-esteem is a great thing but be on the lookout for narcissistic traits. Self-esteem is feeling good about you without feeling lesser of others. If your partner is on a pedestal and you’re polishing the bottom, there’s a problem.

5. He/She takes pleasure in criticizing you.

Nobody is perfect in everything. But he carries a big list of your faults and pull them like a six gun in Dodge City. She knows what you’re sensitive about and shoves those joking, harmless, snide remarks down your throat as often as possible. There is an element of play in all healthy relationships but when the jokes are cruel, there is a problem.

6. He/She will not commit to spending time together.

Dinner? I might be tied up. Weekend away? Let me get back to you. Church Sunday? I’m working late on Saturday, but I really wish I could. He always seems to be waiting for a better opportunity to come along. She can’t commit to time with you a month from now but if her girl friend calls, she’ll drop everything to hang with her.

He/she can’t commit on the spot but has no trouble cancelling on the spot.

7. He/She made early declarations of commitment.

 You’ve been out once, or worse you’ve only talked online and he has already said, “I could see myself married to you.” He doesn’t even know your favorite color, but wants to spend the rest of his life with you? She hasn’t met any of your friends but she’s ready to set a wedding date?

8. He/She said, “Let’s sleep together so we can get to know each other better.”

If you hear this, you must know you’re being played!

9. His/Her cell phone or computer is a secret.

Dr. Phil said, “If you have nothing to hide, hide nothing.” If the cell phone is never on around you, there’s probably a reason. If he/she jumps when it rings and chastises you when you ask, “Who’s that?” you’re being played.

10. Your connection ebbs and flows.

If he/she wants something or it’s a special time of year you two are close. The rest of the time they ghost for long periods of time. Sometimes you feel like you’re just associates.

11. You have to jump through hoops for quality time.

Make the reservations. Drive to the spot. Pick the dinner locations. Set up the babysitter. It was your idea so you should be willing to do everything to make it happen even though he/she never plans anything.

12. You don’t have a title.

You’re not boyfriend, girlfriend, my man, my woman or anything else. If and when you get introduced, it’s just with your name, not with a title that explains who you are to them. He/she wants you to change your relationship status but never seems to get around to changing his/hers.

13. Your gut tells you that something is off.

You have a nagging feeling that you’re missing something. It could be nothing, your own insecurities or your intuition trying to give you a heads up that something isn’t right.

14. You haven’t met his/her family or friends.

Not family members, coworkers or anybody else. When they go to cookouts, you can’t go. He/She is not ready to introduce you to others until you make the grade first.

15. He/She flirts with others in your presence.

He/She feels completely free to hit on others or to entertain another’s advances in your presence. You don’t want to be with someone others don’t find attractive, but you also don’t want someone who won’t shut down attention, especially in your presence.

16. He/She has not moved on from an ex.

His/Her ex comes up often in conversation. You can tell that he/she’s got a pretty strong connection still going on even if they never see each other. You’ve noticed some challenges in letting go of a previous relationship.

17. There’s a double standard for behavior.

He can stay out all night. She can fail to keep dates. He can hit on others in your presence. She can forget to return your calls. But you cannot do the same without serious consequences.

18. You caught him/her cheating.

This should be a no-brainer but if he/she cheats, you are definitely being played. What’s your definition of cheating? Mine is simple – if he/she can’t do it in front of you, it’s cheating.

The initial stages of dating can be murky and can sometimes feel like one big game. However, there are a mix of very clear and subtle signs that one person is doing most of the playing while the other is getting played. When you check your non-negotiables against this list above, how does your relationship stack up?


Looking to break a pattern of dating that is not working for you? Think you’ve found the one but want to make sure your relationship is successful long-term? Contact me for a complimentary consultation to learn more about my relationship coaching services.

Wish you would just focus on me...

The other morning, I was completing an article about the benefits of intentional focus in relationships. And as fate would have it, a music video came on (I often use them for background noise when I’m writing – Don’t judge me!). This particular one caught my attention. It was by the artist H.E.R. The lyrics are:

Can you focus on me?
Baby, can you focus on me? Babe

Hands in the soap
Have the faucet's running and I keep looking at you
Stuck on your phone and you're stuck in your zone
You don't have a clue

But I don't wanna give up
Baby, I just want you to get up
Lately I've been a little fed up

Wish you would just focus on


The words made me question how many people in relationships wonder what it would take to get their partner to focus on them? If you don’t focus on the house plants, eventually they die. If you don’t focus on the car, sooner or later it’s going to leave you high and dry along the side of the road. If you never pay attention to the house, you can expect trouble in the very near future.

But for some reason, we have the expectation that we can live in the same house with someone else and things should just keep moving in a positive direction. If you don’t intentionally focus on your partner and the things that are important to him or her, at least some of the time, he or she is going to put all your stuff in the box to the left (another video came on).

I’m not talking about being perpetually under foot or the “watching every move you make” type of behavior. I’m talking about intentionally focusing on what makes her happy, what makes him feel loved. We sometimes find it easier to focus when there are dates on the calendar – birthdays, holidays and anniversaries – but what about all the time in between these special occasions?

There’s an observable cycle that happens in even the closest relationships. Dr. Steven Covey calls it ‘The Tyranny of the Urgent.’

1. We start off really focused on our partner. We need to do that to get him or her focused on us, right? Things are urgent in the early stages.

2. Life shows up and a whole bunch of urgent stuff that we need to get done as quickly as possible. Focusing on our partner is still important to us; however, it’s just not urgent anymore – he or she fades to the background.

3. Our significant other (SO) gets upset because she feels forgotten, he feels invisible. We love our partner, showing him or her is urgent, so we start that process all over again – back to number 1.

We all go through this cycle because life happens. It’s when it becomes a habit and your SO always feels on the back burner that it becomes a problem. So, how do you break the cycle and start to put more focus on your partner? Consider these questions -

  1. Do you have an intentional program/process to impress your SO that is ‘urgent stuff resistant’?

  2. Do you go out of your way to intentionally try to touch their heart on a regular basis?

  3. Do you make plans to surprise them on a regular basis?

To break it down further, work through this 3-step process -

First, determine what exactly ‘focus’ means to you. You might read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman for ideas. Does focusing on her mean having a weekly pre-scheduled date night? Could you focus on him daily by cozying up on the couch before bed to talk about the day? Maybe focusing on her means listening more (and giving less advice) and focusing on him means letting him teach you about his newest hobby?

Second, schedule that intentional appointment. I mean actually put it on a calendar. That makes it ‘urgent stuff resistant.’ Plan those date nights and block off time that’s about the two of you – put it on your calendar. Don’t leave it to memory or you will forget…there’s just something about a scheduled appointment that automatically makes it appear that much more important. You have birthdays, anniversaries, meeting days, etc. on there already, right?

Third, keep track of your partner’s needs, new interests, wants, likes, etc. Take note of what she’s been talking about a lot lately and what he’s interested in these days. Get specific so you can plan events your SO will actually enjoy. My wife loves being in nature so I plan day trips for us to take a bike ride to the Shenandoah. I love seafood so she’s always scouting out new seafood restaurants for us to try.

If you try something  he or she loves, do it again – if it flopped, give something else a try. Being together and going through those ‘flops’ together will only make your bond stronger, right? Have fun with it and make it urgent.

Do these things and your SO might not be thinking:

You don't have a clue

But I don't wanna give up
Baby, I just want you to get up
Lately I've been a little fed up

Wish you would just focus … on Me


Will This Last? Part 4 of 6

If you haven’t read parts 1 through 3 of this series, take a moment to read them here –

1. Goal and ambitions – do you share similar life goals and ambitions?

2. Getting along with others – how your partner interacts with your circle of family, friends, strangers, etc.

3. Time and money – how you manage your time as a couple, how to handle money matters

Here in part 4, we explore a simple topic that has many layers – whether your significant other (SO) has a focus on you, including what’s important to you. And no, this isn’t about your SO watching every move you make and wanting to be joined at the hip. But you do enter their sense of curiosity some of the time? Do they ever curtail their personal interests to engage with you because you are now one of their personal interests? Or, are all your discussions about the children, work and the bills?

How do you know your partner is thinking about you? Below are some easy questions you can use to determine whether they have a focus on you.

1. Do you have a title?

Out of nowhere they have a title for you that they use around others. You have become ‘My man,’ ‘My woman,’ ‘My boo,’ ‘My bae.’ And remember; it’s not enough for them to have a name for you when you’re all alone. Do they use that same name when they’re around people they care about? It’s okay to be their ‘Boo’ when you’re alone. But it’s another thing all together when they call you ‘Boo’ in front of their best friends and family members. Have you gotten a title yet?

2. Does your partner make an effort to understand you?

Understanding comes by study. You want to be in a relationship with someone who cares enough about you to study you. The person that has a focus on you actually takes the time to contemplate everything about you. They really think about what’s important to you and then use that information to engage with you. Does your SO try to exist with you in an understanding way?

3. Does your SO find ways to make you happy?

You’ll start to experience little surprises. She got you something in your favorite color or made plans and tried to surprise you. He recalls something you said in conversation and asks you more about it. These little surprises don’t have to cost a thing – a thoughtful gesture, a handwritten note or cozy night for just the two of you. Is your SO trying to see that smile on your face?

It really is the ‘little things’ that help relationships endure. Now that you have read and answered questions for 1/2 of this series, how would you rate your relationship thus far?

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or email me directly at

Will This Last? Part 2 of 6

If you haven’t read part 1 of this 6-part Will This Last series, take a moment to read it here. In part 1, we explored questions about your partner’s goals and ambitions. When you and your partner have similar goals and ambitions from the start, you’re more likely to remain strong and committed when that initial “lust phase” wears off. That’s because your relationship is built on a bond that’s deeper than physical attraction and butterflies.

In part 2, we will review a series of questions about your partner’s interactions with others, specifically how he or she gets along with others. Your partner’s ability to get along with others is a clear indication of how they’ll get along with you long-term. If he struggles with his family relationships, he’ll likely have a hard time getting along with yours. If she is rude to your friends, how do you plan to blend your lives for social gatherings and fun?

So, just like in part 1, let’s explore questions to help you assess how well your partner gets along with others. This section is short and sweet with only 3 questions to consider.

1. Does your partner get along with members of his or her own family?

Have you ever dated that one member of the family that didn’t seem to get along well with anyone else in the family? Of course, the family could be “off,” but what if the real problem was your significant other? One of my former clients had been in a committed relationship for several years with a man who had a difficult time controlling his temper. Then came his family reunion.

There was no real blowup at the family reunion, but she did notice that other family members seemed to enjoy each other’s company while keeping their distance from him. Also, when he wasn’t around her, she got along well with his family members and everyone seemed to feel more at ease. It put her in a tough position because he got along great when it was just the two of them, but with this family, there was a clear challenge. She asked whether I thought the two of them would last. Here’s the thing, if your partner doesn’t get along well with biological family members, that might be a major indicator of their ability to get along with you for the long haul.

2. Does he or she get along with your friends and family?

In the movie Hitch, “Date Doctor,” Will Smith gave the best advice about getting along with your partner’s friends. He said, “This first date is about how you get along with her friends, not about how you get along with her.” Your friends are people you’ve known for years and you trust them. However, they have no skin in the game when it comes to your dating life because they’re not as emotionally attached to your partner as you are. That means you can get fairly unbiased feedback from your friends and you can watch the interactions of your partner and your friends.

Does your partner try to actively participate in conversations with your family and friends? Does she ask you things about your friends in order to get to know them better? Does he try to find things in common with your family members? Can your partner be him or herself around your friends and family?

3. How well does he or she get along with people…in general?

I’m safely assuming you’re dating someone friendly but you may be surprised to see, the more time you spend together, how they really treat people in general. I’m not referring to whether she’s an introvert or whether he’s the life of the party but more about common decency. Things like saying, “please,” and, “thank you” to wait staff, being kind to those in the service industry, holding doors for strangers whenever possible and not speaking ill of people for fun. This is about common decency and showing respect to people outside their immediate circle...and to you, long-term.  

If you are able to honestly answer, ‘Yes’ or affirm all of these, then congratulations, you may be in a relationship that will stand the test of time. Don’t worry if your answer to some of these questions was, “No,” or, “I don’t know…” but do keep these questions in mind as you move forward in your relationship. Uncertainty isn’t a reason to quit now but it is a great reason to pause and review where you are right now. In the next article, we’ll discuss time and money.

5 Signs You Might Be Getting Played

During a very recent conversation, I had a young woman tell me that on a first date, the guy told her, “I can see myself married to you.” Mind you…this was a first date! I asked her what she thought of the comment and it was obvious that she was already drinking the Kool-Aid. On a first date, he has already started to consider marriage. Hopefully if you’re reading this, you understand that this is just a game that was being played. One of my favorite quotes, from a woman that I hold in great esteem is,

“Guys play at love in order to get sex; And girls play at sex in order to get love.”


Believe it or not, this can be very effective provided both sides understand the point - that it takes time to truly get to know someone. We should not always take what someone says at face value, dating prospects included. I asked the young lady a few questions about her date. Her own answers made it plain to her that the young man was willing to say anything to get what he wanted. The same questions that I asked this woman are questions you can ask yourself.

  1. What does he know about you that would make him decide that he wants to spend the rest of his life with you?

  2. What does he think is your favorite color?

  3. What is it about your current life that he wants to be a part of?

  4. What does he think about your behavior when you’re in a bad mood? (Remember, he’s only seen you when you’re “on”).

  5. How does he feel about the future you’ve imagined for yourself?

It didn’t take her long to admit that she was probably being played. She wasn’t getting played because she was dumb or stupid or even inexperienced. She was getting played because she really, really, really wanted what he said to be true. He knew what she wanted to hear and he fed it to her.

  1. You Might Be Getting Played If …
    They’re saying things like “I can see myself married to you.”
  2. You Might Be Getting Played If…
    Things started off really strong and then cooled off really fast.
  3. You Might Be Getting Played If…
    He/she just got out of a committed relationship last Friday and they want to start a committed relationship with you on Wednesday.
  4. You Might Be Getting Played If…
    There is always time for sex, but little time for meeting their friends or family.
  5. And the biggest one…You Might Be Getting Played If…
    Things are moving really fast. You’ve only been out to coffee and they want to be exclusive now!

Has navigating the single life been challenging? Contact me for a free consult to help sort through emotions and difficulties that you are facing.

Breakups: A Holiday Survival Kit

The holidays bring on a pile of emotions. From sensory overload and buying gifts to cooking and reconnecting with old friends, there’s laughter and “meeting the parents,” but for so many people, the holidays can be be sad and lonely. This is especially true for those working through the pain of a recent breakup. Happy couples are everywhere! Unless you live off-the-grid, you can’t escape them. Do you keep your normal pre-relationship holiday routine or do you hide out and take care of yourself?

Post-Breakup Holiday Ideas

  1. Volunteer - Give back to the less fortunate and surround yourself with people who appreciate your help. It is easy to get lost in our problems. Sometimes a reality check that others have problems too can help us re-focus our own energy. Staying busy is one of the best ways to get your mind off your sorrows, even if it’s only for a few hours. Volunteering is something we should do year-round regardless of the feel-good benefits we gain, but it’s perfect timing when your heart is aching.
  2. Prioritize self-care - Relationships take compromise and sometimes that means skimping on self-care routines. Uninterrupted bubble baths, sleeping in late (alone, horizontally across the bed!), spending money on yourself, spa days, the works! The good thing about self-care is that it can be free. You can do any of the things listed above or simply start the day with an affirmation, do a series of stretches before lunch or write in your journal. Use positive self-talk and remind yourself that you’re worthy of love and that this lost love isn’t your last chance.
  3. Ask for support and lean in to your family and friends - This means keeping your plans even though you just want to hide under the covers and cry. It can be therapeutic to see your family and be distracted by their crazy stories, the noise, and the food for a while. It’s a good in-your-face reminder that there is a house full of people who love you. 
  4. Clean house - Staying home to wallow among all his stuff isn’t going to help you move past the heartache. Sitting and looking at pictures of her won’t make the days pass by any faster. A clean sweep is necessary and most times it’s going to hurt. Enlist a friend or family member to help you clean out old memories and prepare for a new year, finishing out the rest of this year in better spirits. You might do this close to new year’s eve as a way of getting “out with the old and in with the new.”
  5. Don’t ditch your mutual friends - This can be tricky depending on who was friends with whom first, but you can still spend time with mutual friends without your S.O. If you know that your ex will be in attendance, skip those parties! Your true friends, even if they were mutual, can be a support for you and welcome you, especially in your time of need. But be aware that you may get asked a lot about “what happened” and anyone going through heartbreak knows it’s never just one thing. Have a response prepared that is positive but gets the point across that it’s not a topic you want to discuss at length. Do your best to present both of you in the best light and if you don’t want to keep having the same conversations over and over. Reach out to people ahead of time to let them know.


No break-up is ever fun, though holiday break-ups can suck the life out of the season. Try to be present and feel all the feelings you need to feel so they don't come rushing back next year. Remember that people love and care about you, so share some holiday cheer!

Need to speak with a professional about your sorting your feelings or holiday plans? Call At for a FREE 20-minute consult.