One of my clients recently said, “I NEVER want to date again!” Unfortunately, he had a bad experience and didn’t want to repeat it. He met a girl and quickly fell into imagining their life together, only to discover some major issues that couldn’t be resolved. The girl said she had two small children, ages two and five, and would never consider a serious relationship until they were grown. In other words—she’s unavailable.
Obviously, not all pain can be avoided in a love relationship. Health, accidents, economics, and other unexpected factors enter our lives without warning. But you do have a choice to not invite pain into your life through a relationship that is never going anywhere or is not meant to be.
What are the signs that guarantee stress, misery and dysfunction? These danger signals warn you to avoid getting in a relationship with the following dynamics:
Thinking you can be rejected.
At the top of the warning sign list is the popular myth that you could be “rejected.” This fear narrows your choices, makes you afraid to put yourself out there to try and meet lots of different people, and ties you up in knots when you do meet someone you like. Instead of enjoying your single life, reaching out to meet people, you will automatically be rejecting others before they have a chance to know you. All of your relationships will be based on—rejection. You will never find happiness there.
Release this fear by realizing you don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want to be with you. Keep stretching yourself, trying different venues for socializing and dating new people so you can find the one for you.
Create lots of choices.
Settling for someone you don’t really want.
If you feel you’ll never meet the right person for you; if you think you don’t deserve to be happy; and if you think loving, caring relationships only happen in the movies, then you are vulnerable to settling for someone you are not really in love with. Being in a relationship where you have “settled” will make you bitter, tired, and jealous of other happy couples.
Learn to do the RIGHT thing in life, even if it’s hard. By living with that standard, you will be less likely to settle.
Committing to someone before you know her well.
It may feel impossible to resist making declarations of lasting love if you meet someone and experience instant mutual chemistry. But until you know the true character of that person, you are setting yourself up for possible heartbreak. She may not be the lover you thought you knew. If your true love turns out to be a habitual liar or thief or married to three other people, is she really the person you want to be with?
Get to know the family, friends, and past patterns of behavior in her relationships. Until you do, protect yourself by going slow.
Assuming the person you’ve chosen will become successful.
If you are with someone who does not have a career, or have plans for a future of successful work, and has never held a job consistently, are you content with the idea of being the sole financial support of the family? If someone has a spotty work record and you think it will change because you’re “in love,” you are going to be disappointed, hurt, and angry.
Ask yourself: If this person never changed, would I still want to be with her?
Ignoring the impact of your partner’s baggage.
If your love interest has not consulted a counselor to clear up confusion from past relationships and still harbors feelings of anger, depression, or an inability to let go, you may want to think again. If she talks to the ex every day, worries constantly about how to reconcile with the former family, or cries on your shoulder about how hard life is, how much of this can you live with? If the above behaviors make you desperately sad or mad or crazy, being more committed to the person is not going to fix them.
Getting in a relationship does not solve problems. Working on your own life does.
When you are attracted to someone with the above challenges, ask yourself what you’re not doing for you. If something’s missing in your life, you may be trying to make up for it by looking for someone else to supply it. With that frame of mind, you may be blinded to the realities of the person in front of you.
Protect yourself by strengthening your friendships, career, finances, and emotional happiness. Find friends who will remind you that you are worthy of a fabulous life and a great love. This is how you avoid unnecessary pain in relationships.
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