As badly as most of us want a healthy relationship, we sometimes opt for the fiery, passionate, drama-driven, chaotic version instead. Sure, that’s fine. There’s a time and place everything. But, the crazier, wilder, and more intense a relationship is, it typically can’t outlast the desire and heat it’s built upon. I.e. it burns itself out. And then what are you left with? Oftentimes, a lot of pain and suffering.
But, the alternative is a completely different beast. Healthy relationships tend to look, feel and be different for many different reasons, mostly because the participants have created it that way. So, are you ready for a healthy relationship? Many of us aren’t. Many are not out of one relationship before diving into another. Or, we don’t have a decent model of a loving relationship, and so, we grab whatever comes our way. Or maybe we still think we want the drama and intensity versus the secure, loving comfort of intimacy.
Here are things to watch out for and what you can do to be READY for healthy love…
- No model of a healthy relationship: If you witnessed your parents fighting all the time, or your dad ignored your mom, or your mom was an alcoholic, or your parents hated each other (you get my point) these are not the best models to follow. And yet, we go out into the world and find mates based on how we learned to love as a child. What to do about it: learn to follow a new healthier model. I wrote a blog about it here. But essentially, as adult, we can teach ourselves what type of love we want by watching and imitating couples who inspire us! This never occurred to me, and yet, it was one of the most life-changing things I’ve ever done. I was riding a bike backwards my whole life. No wonder it made no sense and got me no where. I finally learned to ride a bike the right way.
- No proper grieving period: When a relationship is over, whether you called it off or not, you need to grieve. Period. You need to spend a decent amount of alone-time trying to put your life back together, figuring out who you are and finding your center. Without this period of coming to terms with the end of that relationship and self-centering, you risk choosing a new relationship based on flimsy things like loneliness, neediness and sadness. A partner is not supposed to “fill the void” in your life, he or she is supposed to compliment your own awesomeness. Not grieving is also a sign that you were not exactly in the last relationship for intimacy with the person, per se, but rather, for the intensity of any relationship. This relates closely to the next point…
- Jumping into a new relationship before the old one is officially over: Like I said above, when you do not have a healthy amount of alone-time in between relationships, it tends to be a sign that you were not exactly in the last relationship for intimacy with that particular person, per se, but rather, for the intensity of the relationship. Almost anyone with chemistry can create that intensity, so replacing him or her is relatively easy. The healthier option, is to spend some serious time looking back at the person you broke up with to see where YOU might have gone wrong. What you might want in a new partner and what you might want to avoid.
- Choosing the same unhealthy person over and over: My mother used to say “You will get the same problem over and over again until you learn to fix it.” For me, my biggest gripe was, “Why are the same kind of guys always attracted to me? Why can’t I attract healthy guys?” In following my mother’s advice, I never figure out that I was allowing these types of guys in. Duh. That it was in my power to start to be more selective. That being said, if you’re dating the same “type” over and over (especially one who tends to hurt you, frustrate you or create suffering) you have not learned to “fix” this problem. What to do about it: Read more about love addiction, even if you think you’re not a love addict, build your self-esteem, learn what your values are. Learn what it takes to change. These are all ways in which you can grow out of repeat patterns that hold you down.
- Not being a healthy person yourself: How do you expect to attract a healthy partner if you, yourself are manipulating, lying, cheating, acting out, abusive, angry, miserable and so on? You can’t do it. Well, you might be able to attract a healthy partner, but you will not be able to sustain a relationship with a heathy partner if you possess these qualities. Why? Because, forget what you were told about “opposites attract.” Not in this situation. In this situation, like attracts like. Water seeks its own level. You need to be the healthy person you want to connect with. And that means building self-esteem, being able to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, financially and physically, and be able to enter into a relationship as an equal partner, not someone who is looking for a fix or a hole to fill.
- Expecting too much from dating: I’ve added this in because let’s be honest, dating is something you need to learn. It’s not exactly something that we all inherently know how to do. And for most of us, who tend to set expectations way too high when it comes to dating, a book or two on how to date, what to expect and what not to expect is helpful. You can read my “Tips on Dating for the Love Addict” as well as Judith Sills “A Fine Romance,” which will really put dating into perspective.
- You’re not looking for a healthy relationship: Hello?! I know this seems obvious, but you don’t know how often people say they want a healthy relationship, but do something completely different–like, chase after an unavailable person, fall in love with a bad boy, settle for someone who is not their equal, or who remain in a relationship with someone they aren’t remotely in love with. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Your words, hopes, dreams, wishes and actions must be in alignment. We do the same in so many other arenas of our life too: we say we want a better job, but we do nothing about it. We say we want to go back to school but we don’t apply. We say we want to make changes but we never do. What to do about it: Quit settling for less that what you think you want and deserve. Stop selling yourself short by dating someone who’s only interested in booty calls. And dump the guy or girl who you know is not “the one” so that you can finally make yourself available for the Real One.