h2>Dating : Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?
I don’t think a week goes by I don’t get a text or e-mail from someone asking for help in making better choices in relationships.
It usually goes something like this:
“I keep picking jerks to date! I try to pick different types of people — they might even look completely different from the last person I dated — but they end up acting the same and treating me the same. How do I stop doing this? I don’t what to get fooled into marrying someone and then find out afterward he is a jerk, too.”
The good news is there are at least four actions you can take right away to begin to change this pattern.
Each has to do with changing your relationship radar, which is what keeps getting you in these messes.
Picture the weather radar on your local news program. It sweeps around and picks up the areas where it is raining.
In much the same way, relationship radar picks up on the kind of person to whom you are attracted.
Some people call this your “type.”
Your relationship radar is so precise and sensitive that if you walked into a party with 100 people in it, and three of them were your type, you’d pick them out in about 5 minutes.
If your relationship radar is working well and helps you choose people who are good for you, no problem.
If your relationship radar is faulty, you get into the pattern you’re struggling with right now.
4 Steps to Change Your Relationship Radar
Step 1: Take a relationship break
This might be difficult.
Many people who have faulty relationship radar go from one relationship to the next, repeating the same pattern.
When pastor Andy Stanley, author of “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating” was asked why he recommended people take a year off from dating relationships after a breakup:
“Because I don’t think I could get you to take 2–3 years off!”
Taking a relationship break accomplishes at least two important tasks:
- It gives your weary heart a rest, and your heart usually needs it. And…
- It gives you the time and space needed to do the rest of the changes required to reset your relationship radar.
Step 2: Create a list of warning signs
Many years ago I was working with a 20-something person who told me that no matter what she tried, she kept dating jerks.
So we decided we needed to come up with a “jerk list” made up of subtle and not so subtle signs that a person might be a potential jerk.
What we discovered was that this list helped to guide her away from the type of person she had been attracted to up until then.
While each person’s list is unique, here are some general guidelines:
- Does his behavior match what he says?
- Is this person emotionally mature?
- Can this person keep and enjoy a job?
To create your own list, simply think back through previous relationships and look for themes in behavior, habits and attitudes that, in retrospect, were clear warning signs that this was someone to avoid.
If you have trouble coming up with items, ask close friends to help you.
Step 3: Create a list of what you are looking for in a partner
Some people have said that this sounds so tacky, like a shopping list for a relationship.
Well, perhaps, but it works.
Of course, there will be physical characteristics. But, make sure to include personality and character traits that are both a good fit and healthy for you.
While you are not going to find a tailor-made fit in an off-the-rack world, it’s as important to know what you’re looking for as is it to know what you need to avoid.
Step 4: Create your screening and protection committee
As you work at changing your relationship radar, you are still quite vulnerable to choosing people who are bad for you.
There will be times when you just can’t see clearly.
Ask a few close friends, family, or a counselor to be a part of your screening and protection committee.
These are people who know you well and know your list of warning signs.
They need to be folks who will be honest with you.
If someone doesn’t pass the screening and protection committee, consider it one of the biggest and clearest warning signs you can be blessed to receive.
Now you’ve really got a problem
Now that you know the 4 steps to take to change your relationship radar, you can no longer say:
“Well, I don’t know, it just happened again!”
You’ve got your fingerprints all over this one…
Changing your relationship radar is not an easy task.
Changing your relationship radar is a task that is so worth it.
Following these 4 steps can lead to the relationship you’ve always dreamed…
If in spite of these 4 steps you keep ending up in the same place, find a good relationship coach to guide you through the rough and sticky parts.
Want to learn more about creating great relationship? Check out these columns too:
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