Dear Mad Advice:
I have made some bad choices in dating or stayed with boyfriends who were actually not very nice to me. Apparently I am not good at choosing up front. How would you suggest I evaluate my choices?
From Mother and Daughter:
We are interpreting this as your recognized failed search for a long-term mate. If you thought you were just “having fun” and really had no intention of longevity, your question is most likely coming from a new and surprising place where you are actually ready for a permanent future! Coming from different generations, we still see lifelong LOVE in a very similar way!
Start your revamp by creating a list of the top 5 qualities that you need/want in a mate. This will become your deal breaker list from the get-go. Consider lifestyle choices, education, character, spirituality, sense of humor and hobbies. This quality list may come quite easily or you may find that it takes some introspection. Ask yourself what you have liked/not liked in your past choices. Very often your new perspective comes from what you have been dissatisfied with in past relationships.
Always consider who that person will become (this is how I chose 30+ years ago), as creating a future with someone you are proud of and really like to be around is a crucial part of a relationship. Their foundation of how they were raised defines them; it may be altered, however it’s ultimately these rock bottom qualities that may not be changeable.
Some other things to consider:
• In any relationship it is important to keep other parts of your life in tact and thriving. Keeping your own friends and interests should be mutually supported.
• Commitment and caring at a 50/50 proportion is something to strive for; sometimes it’ll be 60/40 or 30/70, but supporting each other equally is important. 50/50 is what brings out the best in each partner, not the worst resentful version of you!
• Physical attraction should never be underestimated; however it cannot stand alone. Intimacy is what sets your relationship apart from any others, so pay attention to that spark, as it should be there naturally.
• On mothering; DON’T! If you find yourself frequently correcting him or offering better choices, you may have stepped into a parenting role.
• Honor yourself by not accepting inconsiderate behavior; consider yourself valuable by speaking up about how you are affected early on, rather than letting disappointments build up.
• Step back and think what you would say about this guy if your friend were dating him, which can be a telltale thumbs up or thumbs down.
What do you value in a relationship? Are there certain qualities that you possess that you’d like reciprocated? These are basic questions you should be asking yourself when searching for a mate. Being in a relationship that is unpredictable and emotionally charged is fun for a while, but when it comes down to it, the caliber of the relationship without the ‘thrill’ can be lacking in substance. I have been there, and I think I’m being honest when I say a lot of other women have been there too.
• Strip down to the basics – without the bells and whistles – is he GOOD? When I say good, I mean bare-bones good. Is he the type who would carry himself the same way regardless of your presence, or your families’ presence? I think the answer to that question speaks volumes about a person.
• Make a list of the qualities you want in a mate. It may be helpful to lay it out on paper, that way you can gain perspective on your past relationships – what was missing in the past and what you ultimately need and want.
• Qualities are one thing, but chemistry is also important. It is what connects you on a deeper emotional and physical level. You may find a few guys that have all the qualities, but the spark is missing. That’s ok, it’s just not right. This brings me to my last point - You’re allowed to be critical and picky. Respect yourself - trust your intuition. If you are being your best self, that is what you deserve in return.
From Mother and Daughter:
Finally, evaluate yourself – are you ready for a serious relationship? There is no harm in just dating, and after reading this, you may realize you have no idea what you want, or how to start. So date and live by your own timetable!
If you have a question, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org