I am totally ready to get more from dating and to have a long-term meaningful relationship. I have my act together and I know my standards: he must be cute, funny, smart and interesting. But I can’t seem to get more than six months in before one of us becomes unhappy and the whole thing falls apart. Can you help a lady out?
Cute. Funny. Smart. Interesting. Why does that sound so familiar? Hmmm.
Oh wait, I know why! Because I was married to that, and my ex-wife may have thought she was married to that too. And do you know what? We were terrible for each other! Super common.
I note you don’t seem to have had any problem finding them yourself. But something hasn’t worked. So what is it? Aside from timing, circumstances, and the billion other things not in our control, I’d guess it’s that while those four traits may be enough to get you started, there are other things you need that you have not been getting.
Permit a personal example, just to get you started. Sure, my ex-wife probably thought I was cute, smart, funny and interesting. But those traits were not enough to make her feel appreciated, or validated, and did not stop me from somehow escalating her anxieties. And all the things that had attracted me to her did nothing to help me when I felt sad about something she said. Her cuteness, interesting-ness, funny-ness never forgave me and they never apologized.
We both spent a lot of time feeling crappy around each other, because what we really needed were all those things I just named (and others–many, many others!). It turns out that without them, all the cute, smart, funny, and interesting in the world didn’t matter. The best thing I got from our separation and divorce was a firm understanding of what else I needed.
So I say, keep your bedrock standards, but improve upon them, and add to them. Think about what else you need. Maybe start with something that hasn’t worked for you, and then what would have worked better.
When could you have used some reassurance but didn’t get it? Are there situations that heightened your insecurities? When have you felt lonely in a relationship, and what would its opposite have been like?
Here is a template that links your feelings in a given situation to what you wished would have happened, and what you will be requiring in the future.
I felt [negative adjective(s)]______when [Name] ______ [verb phrase]___________. It would have felt so much better if______ and/or______. So therefore I am looking for someone who _____ and_____.
Assuming the basic parts are all there, make whatever modifications you need to, and do it over and over as many times as you wish. Here’s an example:
I felt unimportant and isolated when Stanley ignored me in social settings. It would have felt so much better if he could have shown even the smallest amount of affection. Therefore, I am looking for someone who will be excited to have me around his friends and is proud to be with me.
Whatever you come up with, add your new need(s) to your list of must-haves, and start looking for signals that potential partners will or will not be able to meet your newly improved standards!
I think this will get you closer to what you want, and will also prevent you from investing six months with another cute, funny, smart, and interesting guy who will never offer you what you need.
Well, those are my thoughts, but I’d love to know what you guys think about finding the right person!
P.S. If you have a habit of dating people who DON’T meet your needs, this might help. And it’s free!