3 Dating Tips for Having a Healthy and Successful Relationship
Why does this always happen to me? Why can’t I find someone? Why are all the women I meet only interested in money? Why are the guys I meet such jerks? Why can’t I meet “the one?” Why are relationships so hard? Why can’t I just be happy with someone?
The list of why questions people torture themselves with is endless. Some might say these questions are unanswerable. I disagree. There’s usually a universal and simple answer to most of life’s relationship why questions.
The answer is: personal choice.
Relationships are choices. They’re personal and/or professional choices we make and enter into, most times, of our own volition. If you’ve had a string of unsuccessful relationships and don’t know why, instead of placing blame on other people and external factors, consider your role in it first. It takes two to make or break a relationship—even abusive relationships. *If you’re the target of abuse, of course you’re not to blame for being abused. However, once you recognize your partner’s behavior as abusive, you’re complicit for remaining in the relationship and tolerating the abuse.
1) Healthy relationships require self-awareness, self-understanding and the capacity to accept responsibility for one’s choices and actions. Many people haven’t a clue about what kind of man or woman they’d like to meet and, incredibly, don’t understand why they haven’t met him or her yet. It’s the equivalent of saying you want to take a vacation and then aimlessly wandering around the airport terminal trying to decide upon a destination.
2) Know who you are and what you want. If you don’t already have a good sense of yourself; take some time to figure it out and then begin dating again. It’s unwise to try finding yourself or living through another person. The best and healthiest relationships are between two whole people.
3) Understand past relationships before beginning new ones. Some people have no trouble finding and beginning relationships, but these relationships never seem to work. Why? Because they’re more than likely making the same relationship choices over and over again, but with boyfriend or girlfriend du jour. It’s tempting to believe, different person-fresh start; but many people carry the same relationship baggage in different packages.
Some people blindly people choose relationships that recreate unresolved early childhood ones or unrequited adolescent crushes. It’s difficult to move forward in the present if you’re allowing your present life and relationships to be defined and dictated by events in the past. Being a grown-up and having grown-up relationships means letting go of what happened there and then and accepting responsibility for your choices in the here and now.
If you want healthier, long lasting relationships, explore what led you to choose past relationships, what needs or roles they may have successfully and/or unsuccessfully met and what you can do differently in the future. Maybe you’re focusing on the wrong qualities and attributes. Move past the flash—those qualities you find irresistible, but lead nowhere—and get down to the essentials. If you don’t like where you are in your life and the quality of your relationships, it’s up to you to do something about it.
Creating change is like a mathematical equation: if you want a different outcome, you’ve got to change at least one variable. We gravitate toward the familiar, even if it’s unbearable and no longer viable, which is why we make the same relationship choices over and over.
Before you jump into dating after your most recent break-up, reflect on your past relationships and choices. Ask yourself, “What have I learned and what can I do differently?” rather than “Why can’t I just meet someone and be happy?”
Shrink4Men Counseling, Coaching and Consulting Services
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides confidential, fee-for-service, counseling, consultation and coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.
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