Most of us have a relationships that we wish we could just forget about.
Some of us have a few lost loves under our belts.
If you’re anything like me you have an entire luxury-sized walk-in closet filled to the brim with skeletons of romantic connections that you’ve managed to murder to death.
These are some bad dating patterns that if you’re lucky, you can manage to avoid completely!
I have been amorously active for approximately 13 unlucky years. And I have garnered exhaustive experience over the course of a rich and diverse dating history. There have been casual hookups, fleeting love affairs, friends with benefits, and men I was convinced I would grow into my dotage with.
I’m an empath who is habitually attracted to narcissists and underdeveloped emotional IQs. Some would call me a love addict. I would call me a love addict. I fall hard, commit harder and when it all falls apart, I take it the hardest.
I’ve been treated badly, and I’ve also been a nightmare of a girlfriend. But instead of feeling sorry for myself, fearing a lonely life and rueing the day I discovered my desire to love, I’ve made a conscious effort to break my bad dating patterns once and for all! I will not let the gaggle of ghosts of relationships past deter me from becoming an effective and capable lover! I SHALL OVERCOME!
But, of course, the first step is admitting you have a problem. I have several. Here are 8 of them. My bad dating patterns (and possibly some of yours, too):
I do subscribe to the idea that the best way to get over one person is to get under someone else. Replacement therapy is a trusty tool I’ve used to manage heartbreak and I honestly think it has helped. The problem has been the lack of lag time in between breakup and rebound hookup.
I was skipping the imperative emotional refractory period and rejecting the necessity to learn how to be by myself. As a result, whatever relationship that came next didn’t show evidence of growth or betterment. It kept me stuck in a cycle of togetherness, which would have much benefited from even the tiniest moment of separateness.
Keeping Your Exes Around
Naturally, I’m not a bridge-burner and would hope not to eliminate any of the people from my life who are (for however long) important and influential. <<< This is what I tell myself when I’m reading the slew of sloppy drunk texts to my ex the morning after a night spent drowning in tequila and tears. The truth of the matter is, however, that exes are exes for a reason.
When we’re feeling lonely, it’s natural to experience a euphoric recall of all the wonderful parts of your failed relationships, but you do yourself a disservice to forget the reasons you fell apart in the first place. Don’t let them keep your friendship when they haven’t earned it.
Dipping into the pool of exes puts you at risk of reliving the same horrible heartbreak for a second time. It also closes you off to new people and experiences as well as discouraging personal improvement and growth.
After a certain amount of time and distance, sure, maybe you can rekindle something resembling a friendship with an ex-lover. But in my opinion, for the most part, it is far better to leave lost love in the past.
Mistaking Sexual Chemistry For Romance
Clicking sexually with someone is like going to a substandard steakhouse, fearfully ordering a porterhouse medium rare, cutting into it and amazedly discovering a perfect red center.
Call me unlucky in lust, but for me, it almost never happens. So, when it does, I get giddy and irretrievably oxytocin-drunk. Before I know it, I have transferred the sexual electricity from my loins to my mushy gushy emotional parts and I’m feeling a fondness that feigns romance.
But chemistry and compatibility are not one in the same. Sexuality and sentimentality are not invariably congruous. If the sex is great, by all means enjoy it! But proceed with caution, don’t get too excited and make sure to keep learning new thingabout each other in other non-sexual ways.
Losing Yourself to the Relationship
I’m a big time lover. I’m a generally generous and compassionate person. I thrive when I have someone to take care of and a relationship to cultivate. This makes it so I also catch feelings like frogs catch flies. When I fall in love, I often allow it to consume me.
I over-invest in my partner and as a result, my responsibilities, ambitions, and even interests go neglected. I stop listening to my favorite singers, eating my favorite foods, and hanging out with my favorite friends. I lose myself in my relationship and it’s sad because I think I’m a pretty cool person.
The healthiest relationships are the ones in which both parties live their own full, distinct lives divergent from one another while simultaneously imparting love and support within the partnership. Not as easy as it sounds, but oh so good when you get it right.
Trying To Fix Them
Women tend to be nurturers, and I’m no different. But for some odd reason, I have chosen over and over to lovingly nurture (for lack of a better term) losers. It’s one of my favorite bad patterns. Maybe it’s my bloated sense of empathy or my constant need to be working on a “project,” but the guys that I’ve been with have all been financially and/or emotionally unstable, lacking ambition, and far from independent.
I know you’ve heard many times before that you can’t “fix” someone, but from inside a codependent relationship, it feels like you are fixing them. You hear them apologize, see them make plans, feel yourself giving sound and sensitive direction. But you are not.
In reality this type of imbalance in a relationship only breeds complacency and perpetuates underachievement in both parties. You should be the kind of support that they can lean on and learn from, not the kind that gets walked all over and taken advantage of. Be the cane, not the Brookstone massaging recliner.
Communication occurs in many forms. The best communication is direct communication. Arguably the worst, which I have been a culprit of, is manipulation. We all want to get our way. I would use methods of guilt, misdirection, flattery and more guilt to finagle my way into the inner corridors of my partner’s unsuspecting psyche.
I would use phrases like “I should have known you’d do this,” and “If you really loved me…” While short term success almost always followed my manipulative mastery, it made my boyfriends hate me. Resentment is Manipulation’s bastard offspring, and it is not a cute baby.
Pretending to be “The Cool Girl”
This is another form of manipulation that I have erroneously and repeatedly practiced not only with my partners, but also with myself. Guys have told me my whole life how “chill” I am or how I’m “just like one of the guys.” I attribute most of this to the fact that I drink whiskey straight and watch sports, but I must admit that it has gone to my head a bit.
Being marked as the “cool girl” in the dating world, I feel immense pressure to downplay my feelings. I find myself saying (and believing) that I don’t have feelings when I do. It’s a betrayal to my true emotions, as well as a dishonesty to my partner. Don’t let your “coolness” trump your emotional integrity. Integrity is sexy too.
Being Too Forgiving
I promise, I’m not always the bad guy in every relationship I have. The bad patterns don’t always start with me. Sometimes…many times…I have been mistreated by someone I’ve loved. Every time I get lied to, cheated on, shamed or bullied, I swear to myself that it’s the last time, and resolve never to put up with it again. But I forgive over and over and over because I don’t want to lose the relationship that I’m addicted to.
I rehearse “sticking up for myself” in my head over and over, but fail to follow through with the defense when it comes time for the practice to pay off. Consequently, my boyfriend, knowing he can get away with murder, proceeds to repeat the bad behavior I have allowed to go unpunished. Forgiveness is a noble virtue, but not when you’re forgiving away your dignity to some undeserving asshole.
So, these are my skeletons. My bad dating patterns that I resolve to abandon from here, henceforth to infinity. I urge fellow bad-daters to take heed! Break your patterns and renounce your ridiculous romantic tendencies. You can be better and you can do better.
Laurie Magers is a writer and comedian from the Bay Area of California. Her favorite color is red and her favorite food is crab legs. Check out her stuff at www.lauriemagers.com!