RBPs: Really.Big.Problems.

Years ago, my daughters invented the idea of RBPs: Really Big Problems. We always say, “Oh, he has RBPs” or “She has RBPs.” It’s a nice short-hand that just kind of rolls off the tongue and it has stuck with us and our family and a lot of our friends. RBPs are problems that people have that are scary. And really (REALLY) you have no need to be involved with people that have these kind of problems. These are the type of things that might not come out in the first date but they will for sure come out in the first 3 to 6 months. People can’t hide these for much longer then 6 months.

Someone who is really, really good might be able to hide it for up to a year. After that, no way. RBPs are another reason that you should date someone for AT LEAST a year (and preferably 18 months) before you really commit. I’ve made a list of 10 really bad problems. Most of these RBPs are going to get worse over time. These are not listed in any order, because THEY ARE ALL EQUALLY BAD and — this is important — THE PRESENCE OF A SINGLE RBP IS ENOUGH TO END THE RELATIONSHIP.


Lying, stealing, cheating, anything dishonest is a really big problem. If you find inconsistency in what people are saying. If you hear things from other people that you trust, about the person you’re dating, things that the person you’re dating hasn’t told you about, this is a problem. If someone is saying they’re somewhere a number of times and they’re not, if they’re not forthcoming with important life events (family, friends, finances, number of marriages, number of children, number of jobs, etc.), that is a RBP and you need to get out immediately.


One of the more common RBPs is alcoholism, but this could be any type of addiction: drug addiction, food addiction, pornography addiction, etc. There’s not a lot to be said about these RBPs. These things generally do not get better despite promises that may be made. When people do go and get help for those things then that’s great, but they have to come up with that ON THEIR OWN. They have to want to get help. It’s really important. Enough about addiction.


You always have to establish boundaries, but how you feel around their family? How do they interact with your family? If you’re really close to your family and there is tension with the person you’re dating, this generally won’t change. You also really need to see how his/her family treats you. Are you comfortable around them? Are they the type of people that you can talk to and that you can have fun around and be yourself with? You don’t have to love these people. You don’t have to be best friends with them. You do have to feel a relative amount of comfort. You can’t be in a situation where you’re uncomfortable or stressed or you have anxiety about because if you’re going to be with this person their family is going to be a part of your life.


These are two things that do not get better. Ever. If someone is possessive of your time, of you, or if they’re jealous of the time you spend with other people or jealous of things that you have or your job or your friendships — that is negative enough not to deal with. Run, don’t walk.


If you feel disrespected or you don’t have respect for the other person then that is absolutely not workable. Are you treated poorly in front of others or put down or spoken to in a way that is condescending and rude and demeaning? If you feel that they have contempt for you and it shown to you alone or with other people, that is disrespect. Get out.


Anybody that is trying to control your feelings, your opinion, or your lifestyle is not someone you should be with. And there is a difference between feedback and control. Feedback is something that’s said in a kind way where your natural reaction is: ‘Okay, let me take that into consideration, and I can choose to deal with it.’

Control is ‘You shouldn’t feel that way. You don’t feel that way.’ Controllers tell you to change your opinion, whether it’s about religion or politics or friendships or love. Controllers don’t respect your feelings, don’t listen to your opinions, and that’s a huge problem.


This is someone that never talks about how they feel. They never speak their truth, even after asking and talking to them about it and calling them on it in as nice a way as possible. They’re passive-aggressive, they let you treat them like a doormat, they don’t give you an opinion, they don’t have anything to say. That you can’t live with. That’s an RBP. Passivity makes people bitter, angry, and resentful. And over time it gets really, really ugly.


Someone can use you for money, for sex, for work, for anything. You’ve got to be aware of it. Have a conversation about it. Maybe it was a one-off, but if it doesn’t stop, get away.


I hate to use labels, but if someone doesn’t work, if they don’t help, if they don’t contribute, if they are laying around all the time and they have no energy and you ask them to do things and they won’t (you’ll see this as a pattern) then you need to get out. That’s an RBP.


If you’ve architected your relationship the right way, then between a year to 18 months, someone should be able to make a serious commitment and move forward. If they’re not doing that, that’s an RBP. That shows that they’ve got an issue of some sort. If they are dealing with the issue and you feel comfortable with that, great. You can wait a while longer. If they’re not dealing with it and they don’t own up to it you need to get out.