There are a lot of clichés about the challenges people face when looking for a mate, and many contain at least a kernel of truth. Have you ever dated a woman or man long after it was clear that he or she was “just not that into you”? Do you ever “let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” fixating on some superficial flaw while ignoring all the wonderful qualities a person has? Or what about this classic line from the 1970s Stephens Stills hit: “If you can’t be with the one you love, baby, love the one you’re with,” perfect advice for the person who rejects date after date because they’ll never compare to the one who got away?
If you’ve been struggling to find a meaningful relationship, you may be guilty of one or more of these common mistakes. But if you take an honest look at how you approach relationships, you can make changes to get things headed in a better direction where you’re more likely to meet, connect with, and build a healthy, satisfying relationship with a person who really is right for you.
Let’s break them down one by one. First, the habit of clinging to people who “just aren’t that into you.” This one requires some soul searching, because you may be suffering from poor self-esteem and believe you don’t deserve better than a mate who treats you like an afterthought. Or you could be convinced that he or she is just shy, going through a hard time, extremely busy, or otherwise has a legitimate excuse for treating you poorly or just indifferently.
You might benefit from talking with a therapist to help find the underlying causes of why you settle for less than you deserve. If you were neglected or abused as a child, for instance, you may enter into similar relationships as an adult because they feel normal to you. Learning to understand this pattern could not only save you from repeating the same mistakes in your love life but improve how you go about getting your needs met in other areas of life, as well.
Next, “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.” When it comes to dating, this is about fixating on a certain ideal mate in your mind while barely noticing the other attractive, interesting, real-life people all around you. For every criterion you consider nonnegotiable—whether it’s “great-looking,” “really rich” or something more esoteric like “award-winning poet,” you’re limiting the possibilities.
Worse, some people create these perfect-mate images based in part on other people’s expectations rather than their own. This also speaks to poor self-esteem—a need to impress family or friends with, say, the best-looking date in the room or the young lawyer who just made partner at the biggest firm in town. Now you’re not only shrinking the pool of prospective partners, but you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.
Instead, keep an open mind, and you’d be surprised how many people you’ll meet who might not fit your preconceived notions of perfection but might make a better match than you ever dreamed possible.
Finally, back to that song: “If you can’t be with the one you love….” It should be stated that the next line (“love the one you’re with”) might or might not be good advice. That’s situation-dependent, so let’s rephrase it to say, “If you can’t be with the one you love…you can still love someone else.” The point is that people who’ve gone through a painful breakup may get hung up believing that no else can ever fill those shoes. And it’s true: no one can; the person and relationship you lost were unique. But when the time is right and you want to begin dating again, keep in mind that just because no one else can replicate the exact qualities of your ex, others have great qualities of their own.
It’s well worth finding out.
You deserve to have a great love life. Let’s see if we can make yours better. The professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County can help you get your relationship back on track. Call us today at (949) 430-7132, or book your appointment online using our online scheduling tool. We look forward to connecting with you.