My dictionary defines a rut as a hollow depression which is a pretty good description of how you feel when one relationship after another doesn’t work out: hollow and depressed. One thing you can to protect yourself from the “relationship rut” is to become a better predictor of relationships.
Affirm yourself as someone who is realistic about relationships, who is developing a reliable internal guidance system. Get your head and your heart working together and you can more accurately predict the future of a dating relationship, see and properly react to the danger signs, and stop wasting time.
Ideas for Working With This List
Read the list several times. Rate yourself on each item, for example: I do this one well; I want to do better about this one; I really must do better about this one.
Identify specific relationships from the past (or present) where you could have done better. Write about them in a journal. Discuss them with a friend or in a support group. Turn them into action items.
1) Is your prospect really available? Are they truly free of past relationships legally, mentally, and emotionally? Do you see signs of addictions, dependencies, or compulsive behaviors? If your prospect is legally divorced, are they emotionally divorced as well? Starting a new relationship before a previous one has ended usually creates painful complications. Because people tend to behave in patterns, the way your prospect ended previous relationships may foretell the ending of yours.
2) Do you need to get a background check by a detective or attorney? It may not sound very romantic, but there are situations –financial, family, career– where such information can save you a lot of grief.
3) How desperate are you for a relationship? People who are too “hungry” might eat anything. Get help with it, or wait long enough to get over desperation, before you make a commitment.
4) Does your prospect have a good sense of humor? Do they laugh and smile easily and often? Do you bring out the laughter in each other? DO you “get” and enjoy their sense of humor? Can they ease tension by finding humor in sticky predicaments without trivializing them? Is their humor good-natured rather than mean-spirited or angrily sarcastic? “Yes” to these questions is a very good sign.
5) During your first date(s), does your prospect ask you questions about yourself? Sales professionals know that a customer who asks good questions is signaling a buying mood, and the sale will likely be closed. At your first meeting, if you are the only one asking questions, it is a pretty good sign that your prospect is not “buying”. Don’t waste your time on more dates.
6) Listen to them describe their feelings about relationships from the past. If they have had essentially good relationships that just didn’t work out, that’s a favorable sign. If they are angry and blame the women/men of their past for the relationship failure they had, you will probably be next. The best prospects are those whose past relationships ended in a friendly way, without bitterness or ugliness or at least where they point the finger equally at themselves.
7) What is their life like when you meet? Is it a good and satisfying life, or are they looking to be rescued from their financial problems, age problems, or a desperate need to be in a relationship? Many people in need of rescue have a way of becoming romantic and sexy quickly. If you are a rescue vehicle and an object, you are not a person. It’s safest to get involved with prospects who have a well-rounded, satisfying life, and who aren’t looking to you to make their life work.
8) How did you meet? Were you both flaunting symbols of success, achievement, and career; or of physical allure? The more each of you played symbol games in the beginning, the more the relationship will have a gamey, fragile quality. Without a foundation in authenticity, it may become highly volatile and will tend to be either easy-come-easy-go, or it will last longer before it crashes and burns.
9) How about you? How do you really feel about the opposite sex? What’s your history in relationships? And how do you perceive the opposite sex in general? Most important, do you really want a relationship or do you just want to be with someone who knows how to leave you alone? (Men, especially, may be prone to this tendency.)
10) Do you suffer from the fallacy that you can undo the hurts, abuses and injustices a prospect may claim have been done by others in their past? If they may make you larger than life at the beginning, inevitably they will include you as one of the disappointing and dysfunctional people they’ve been involved with.
11) Do you really like the realities of your prospect’s life when you meet? Do you feel positive about their family, friends, habits, values, tastes, the way they eat, how they groom themselves? The more you have to overlook and rationalize at the beginning, the more you will have to deny and block feelings in order to remain in the relationship.
12) Can you disagree –even argue– with them without feeling guilty or responsible? Can the two of you bring conflict to a reasonably successful resolution? Does your prospect accept responsibility for communications problems as often as they point a finger at you?
13) Are you willing to look at your own hang-ups and their painful effects on relationships with people who try to get close to you?
14) Are you both willing to share your test results so you know what risks you might be taking regarding STDs, HIV and AIDs? If either or both of you have been sexually active within the past 10-15 years, getting tested is smart. Make sure that sharing the results is a requirement.
There’s much more incredible advice like this in my book, “Toilet Paper, Toothpaste, and Tuna-Noodle Casserole: Observations and Advice on Love, Marriage, and Authentic Intimacy From a Psychologist Who’s On The Practice-Makes-Perfect Program.” Click here to buy it now.