I married for some of the right reasons and many wrong ones. I was 28-years-old, and I had just been rejected by a man I thought was my future husband. I was devastated. My heart built thick walls of protection, and I vowed to never allow a man to hurt me again. I really wanted to get married. I thought I was old at the time (ha!). I thought my chance of finding true love had passed me by. I believed my window of opportunity to have children was getting smaller. In my limited way of seeing the world, I was running out of time, men, and options.
When my next boyfriend asked me to marry him, I said yes. Or rather, my head said yes. My heart was locked in its safe cage. Or so I thought. There isn’t much safety in being with the wrong partner.
But I refused to give up hope of somehow making it work. After 23 years of therapy and wishful thinking that if I just said or did things in the right way, he’d understand me and change, I finally developed the courage to leave.
I emerged from the divorce with a new lease on life and love. I changed careers from artist to life coach. My coursework in coaching taught me incredibly useful life skills. Most of all, I learned to love myself more and got clear about the elements of a healthy relationship.
A few years later, I became a dating coach with a mission to help as many people as possible do what I did—believe in themselves, own their true worth, and as a result, make healthier choices in their romantic partners.
Have you ever entered a relationship for the wrong reasons? These are 5 warning signs you’re in a relationship for the wrong reasons, and how to avoid them to attract the best relationship of your life.
5 Signs You’re in a Relationship for the Wrong Reasons
So many people get into relationships because they’re tired of being alone. Anyone who’s ever been in a bad relationship knows there’s nothing lonelier than being with the wrong person. Don’t become a couple to fill the void.
Do this instead: Fill up your life with things you love. Develop or rediscover a hobby, volunteer your time, do something meaningful and awesome with your life. The more you love your life, the more attractive you become to your ideal partner.
#2. Believing true love is a myth
Yep, I did that. I call this the scarcity approach to relationships. You believe you’ll never find a partner who is your true match. You are convinced that this person doesn’t exist. People tell you you’re too picky. So you settle for someone you don’t love. You hope it will work out. It almost never does.
Do this instead: Look for someone who’s truly compatible.
The most important qualities to search for are mutual attraction, shared values, and a shared worldview. Be picky about those things and not about the external stuff, like height, hair color, and level of education. If you’re choosing partners based on lust and chemistry, chances are the relationship will quickly crash and burn. With the right partner, attraction grows and love deepens. The wrong partner becomes less attractive over time. When there is a weak foundation, the relationship crumbles.
#3. The desire to procreate
I was 28-years-old. I wanted to have children. I thought my biological clock was running out of time. I didn’t take pregnancy for granted. The longer I waited to marry, the more difficult it might be to get pregnant. So, I chose a guy who was a loving uncle with his niece and nephew. I thought he’d be a great dad. My head said, “Marry him.” My heart said, “I like him a lot, but I’m not in love.” And my head answered, “Oh don’t be silly, love will grow. Just marry him. He loves you. That’s enough.”
Do this instead: Make sure your head and heart are in agreement before saying, “I do”. Listen to your gut. Don’t be pressured by the feeling of scarcity. Better to choose the right partner who will be a supportive parent than someone you don’t love simply because they’re good with other people’s kids.
#4. The need for financial security
Whether you’re in your 20s or 50s and struggling to make ends meet, don’t get involved in a relationship because he/she has more money than you. A committed relationship is not your best ticket to a so-called blissful life of financial security. In addition, in midlife, many people who have financial means will also be protecting their assets with a prenup. Or they are saving their nest egg for their children, and will not be handing you the life of luxury you’re dreaming of.
Do this instead: Do whatever it takes to earn enough to be financially independent. Nobody can rescue you—emotionally or financially. When I was twenty, I moved to an apartment and worked five jobs to pay the rent while going to college at night. I loved being self-reliant, even if it meant I was a bit exhausted. When you meet someone special, you’ll fall in love because of who they are, not what they have.
#5. The need for someone to complete you
No one can complete you except you. Damn you, Jerry Maguire! A romantic partner helps you to rise up to become the best version of yourself. He or she supports your growth as you support them. But the notion of someone else completing you is misguiding. It takes away your responsibility for working on the parts of you that need attention and healing.
Do this instead: Complete yourself. Do the inner work so you can proudly say, “I love me” before ever expecting a partner to love you. Believe in your self-worth. Live your most vibrant, healthy life. Be the love you wish to attract, and you will become magnetic to the right partner.
Get into relationships for the right reasons. I love the way Bob Marley describes the so-called ‘perfect’ relationship. He’s speaking to women, but this quote applies to men, too.
“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” – Bob Marley
Have you ever entered a relationship for the wrong reasons? Please share your thoughts.
Photo: Flickr/epSos .de