Bruce Bennett/ Getty Images News/ Getty Images Bruce Bennett/ Getty Images News/ Getty Images
By Lori Cheek

It was a Thursday night and I was out at a Meatpacking District nightclub with two of my favorite wingmen. Hoping to spark things up a bit, we decided to play my favorite dating game: One point for speaking to a potential suitor; two points for getting their digits; and three for getting a date.

Wasting no time, I walked up to the cutest guy in the club and asked if he would take a picture of me and him together (best pickup line EVER.) Disregarding my personal aversion to men in skin-tight black leather pants and heavy gold chains, I decided to focus on his incredible good looks and sexy Italian accent instead. After all, he was hot and he was from Florence…so I let the first of many red flags slide. Wouldn’t you?

That next weekend, Maximus (yes…really) texted me to pack a bag! He was taking me to Montauk for the weekend. As a self-professed serial romantic who had long dreamed of being whisked away by a handsome suitor, the YES I immediately texted back was a no brainer. And so I went to work methodically and meticulously selecting the wardrobe for my amore-filled getaway.

The three-hour trip out East seemed endless and felt strangely awkward. Turns out Maximus had little else to talk about besides his precious little Audi TT. But red flags be damned, yet again I decided to ignore my gut in favor of spa treatments, champagne on the beach and salt water swimming pools. Everything sparkled…except our conversation, which was decidedly minimus. But never mind. By Monday morning, we were officially in a new relationship.

Living in opposite parts of NYC, we started rotating nights at each other’s apartments. After a few months of back and forth, we realized that both of our leases were coming to an end, so we did what most crafty New Yorkers in a relationship would do…we started shopping for a place to share.

The most amazing deals were available in the Financial District, post 9/11. We found a gorgeous 2,000 square foot loft in a newly renovated building with every amenity you could imagine. Plus, if we signed a 2 year and 3 month lease, the government would even give us a $12K grant. It seemed like the stars were aligned and we had hit the jackpot. Yet something still felt “off.”

Convincing myself it was just cold feet, I sold all of his Pine IKEA furniture (another red flag!) on Craigslist in order to make room for my much cooler pieces. But as the movers dropped the very first boxes into our massive, sunlit new space, I realized that I couldn’t stand Maximus! And so things crashed and burned as quickly as they had taken off.

Getting out of that lease was easily one of the biggest challenges of my life. It’s true when they say all that glitters isn’t gold. And when it came to this relationship, the only part that shined was the obnoxious chain he insisted on wearing every day.

Moral of the story? While everyone might seem to look good lounging poolside in the Hamptons, once the luster fades and the blinders come off, the red flags you convinced yourself you could ignore will fly higher than the views from your 70th story penthouse condo. So don’t let the sparkle blind you from finding REAL love.

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