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Have you seen the new Febreze commercials? I think they’re so clever. Here’s one starring the very unsuspecting Susan and Erica.

Blindfolded, these poor girls (one in a cute white dress!) enter a filthy abandoned house and sit on the world’s most disgusting couch. All you can see is dirt, dust and mold—the kind of stuff that can only attract rodents, bugs and diseases. I was seriously gagging as I watched this.

But the two women are unaware of where they are because they’re blindfolded. They’re left to use their sense of smell. And thanks to the power of Febreze, they describe their surroundings as: light floral, lilac, citrus, fresh, a little beachy, like sitting outside while the lawn is being cut, wispy white curtains, lots of windows.

Finally, as a dirty dog scampers by, Susan and Erica remove their blindfolds, astounded by what they see, where they are, and what they’re sitting on.

“It was disgusting.”

“I was surprised by all the stuff in there, because I did not smell it.”

This commercial got me thinking about what happens in some relationships. Girls have a tendency to build things up in their heads. (I know I’m guilty of it!) Before the third date, we’ve already picked out the color of our bridesmaids’ dresses and the names for our newborn twins. We dream, we imagine, we live out our fantasies in our minds.

We’ve been doing this since we were little girls, right? I remember attending weddings as a child and thinking of what my dress would look like and who would be in my wedding. It’s only natural. But, sometimes even the natural can be harmful.

These expectations and fantasies are like “Relationship Febreze.” They cover all the bad stuff to leave behind seemingly perfect men—men that smell fresh and even a little beachy, like wispy white curtains and lots of windows.

In reality, I can be sitting in the middle of a dirty, dusty, moldy relationship—one that just isn’t healthy. He can be treating me badly, ignoring me or using me.

But until I’m willing to take off the blindfold and face reality, I’m just smelling the good stuff in the relationship—the light floral and the citrus.

Managing expectations before a relationship begins is key. It’s important to go into a first date with a clean slate. Bringing in all the things you “hope he’ll be” really isn’t fair to him… or you. Give him a chance to show his true colors before you douse him with “Relationship Febreze.”

It’s also important to keep your eyes open so that you protect your heart. I’m sure if Susan and Erica knew the nasty place they were walking into, they wouldn’t have pressed their noses over every square inch of that grimy couch. If I take some time to get to know a guy first, I might uncover that he’s a jerk early on—saving me from unnecessary heartache.

You might just be surprised what you see when your eyes are wide open.

~Ruth