In my former dating life, I made a lot of mistakes. The desire to be desired can sometimes numb the mind beyond all sanity checks. Unfortunately, you may not know that you’re in a bad relationship until you’re not in it anymore. Or you may be too afraid to do something about it. Either way, it’s important to recognize if you accidentally find yourself involved in one of the following:
You’ve been together a long time. It seems that there is nothing you don’t know about the other person. You’re incredible friends. A great team. It’s predictable. Dependable. Like your favorite wool sweater on a cold winter afternoon. You love knowing that you have a date to all of your friends’ weddings, that you have someone to hang out with on major holidays and who will dependably get you a present on your birthday. The only problem is that you have absolutely no attraction to this person. The thought of touching him makes you flinch and you’re just going through the motions with each empty kiss. Still, the thought of leaving this safety net has you staying put. “What if there’s nobody better,” you often secretly think.
You’ve been hanging out for weeks or even months. You feel sparks and a connection every time you’re together. You’re fairly confident that he’s into you, but when you’re brave enough to have “the talk,” he indicates that he’s not quite “there” yet. He gives you the, “I know it’s not fair to you because you’re AMAZING,” speech and understands if you want to/borderline encourages you to see other people. You rationalize that with some time and more exposure to your AWESOMENESS, he’ll come around.
This guy loves taking you to music events, smoking a joint with you and feeling the vibes with good tunes around. He gives off a low maintenance, carpe diem energy that attracts you to him along with the smell of incense in his car. He doesn’t seem interested in or capable of planning anything concrete – other than a hiking trip later that afternoon or a walk to his favorite 24 hour burrito shop. If you’ve got dreadlocks, no desire to accomplish anything and no interest in talking, this may be a perfect match for you, temporarily. This person may have a great heart, but getting them to definitely commit to a monogamous relationship will be next to impossible.
You’re between actual relationships and you’re lonely. Everyone around you is paired up, it seems. It’s late. You want company. You see no problem with leaning on a friend with benefits to keep you occupied on a semi-regular basis. Only one of you will eventually develop feelings for the other and grow to resent their friend when the feeling isn’t mutual. Disappointment will ensue. The friendship will be sacrificed. (Or VERY rarely, you’ll end up getting married.)
You know you’re not happy in the relationship, but you also know that being single is hard work. You’ll just stay in this relationship until you find something better or the timing is better for breaking up. Nobody wants to spend the holidays alone. Nobody wants to go to their best friend’s wedding on his own. Only problem is that you’re missing out on the potential relationships that could work when you’re staying in a relationship you know will not work long term.
This person makes your heart skip a beat when you see him. He’ll take you rock climbing. He’ll plan a last minute trip to the Bahamas to go scuba diving for the weekend. He’s thinking of doing a triathlon in Zimbabwe and thinks you should come along. He’s regularly training for double marathons. He’s getting chased by bulls in Spain. He’s been heli-skiing, heli-hiking, and feels his best after a day of bungee jumping. He’s serious about jumping out of a plane with you. You feel alive when you’re with him but aren’t sure you’ll stay alive if you keep dating him.
He’s got a gambling problem. A drinking problem. Money problems. Anger issues from a previous relationship. Mommy issues. Daddy issues. You take pity on him and hope that things can change. You know someone who knows someone that was able to overcome this obstacle in their relationship. You can do it too. It doesn’t matter that it’s bringing you down. That you’ve become a semi-punching bag. You’re a positive person and this person is worth saving. Only you can’t remember the last time it felt worth it.
You grasp, like musical chairs, desperately to the guy who is willing to commit. Your fear of going back into the dating pool makes you feel sick to your stomach. You worry that you’ll never find anyone else who knows you so well. Who you feel comfortable with. Who you’ll have inside jokes with. You picture your funeral and the unborn children who won’t be there, the husband you’ll never have who won’t be attending. It will be a neighbor who finds your body, you think. This is the only motivating force keeping you together.
You text non-stop with his mother all day. His father is constantly emailing you funny anecdotes and news articles. His siblings have become your besties. You love weekends at his family’s house, dinners featuring his mom’s amazing cooking and often think about planning vacations together. Your biggest disappointment is when his family goes home and you realize that you have to actually spend time with your significant other.
Your dog and his dog fell in love at doggy day care. They refused to be separated at the end of each day. Finally, the owner of your doggy daycare played Cupid and set you guys up. You still haven’t run out of people to tell this adorable story to. It’s amazing. Fateful. Perfect. But after some adequate time together, you realize that you have absolutely nothing in common with this person other than telling people how you met. Even your dogs are over each other.
He cheated once but it was when your relationship was in the early stages. Or things weren’t going so great between you. Surely you can forgive him. He’s assured you it was a one-time thing and why would you throw away a perfectly good relationship that you can enjoy every day for something that happened one time? You’re constantly checking his credit card receipts, trying to read his emails and secretly check his text messages on a daily basis.
This is the relationship that’s going on inside your head and has been for quite some time. You can’t get your mind off of what could be, could have been or should have been with a former love interest. You imagine what your lives would be like together, what your house would look like, what your kids would look like – only you never quite made it happen. You find yourself going back to these thoughts when you’re between relationships or measuring up your current love interest. The one who got away seems perfect because he’s not there to prove you wrong.
You’ve met someone great online, but haven’t actually progressed to live human contact. You’ve been texting, emailing, and sending each other selfies for weeks. You may have talked on the phone. You are anxious to meet this person, but there’s always a reason why it can’t happen. Why plans get canceled, delayed, and rebooked.
This guy has shown major interest in you. Wooing you. Charming you. Taking you out for dinner. Holding your hand. Asking about your grandmother. It seems like the perfect relationship. Before things get intimate, he admits that there is another person in his life, a semi romantic interest that he’s “seeing,” but not seriously. It’s more that he feels bad breaking up with her because she needs him. He’s a good guy and won’t disappoint her just yet. Eventually, he of course plans to break up with her and only be with you.
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