At ten years old as my fingertips flipped through the pages of my sister’s diary, I made mental notes of how I WOULDN’T conduct myself in relationships. I read about one-night stands, waiting for calls that never came, and just how to ignore all the very signs of infidelity so that when you finally see it in the flesh -pun intended-, it hurts that much worse.
Like many things in my life, my relationships have been defined by not necessarily knowing what I DO want, but by definitively being aware of what I DON’T want. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by examples of relationships that I know I don’t want to have.
I now present to you a few ways that I am confident that will grant you many tears and much hurt:
- Having very little standards, or none at all: It is indeed true that if you don’t believe in something, you will fall for anything. Many women make the mistake of investing time, emotion and energy into prospects that aren’t worthy of even half of that. You don’t have to know necessarily that you want a stock broker who is 5’9″ who drives a limited edition Mercedes and graduated cum laude. But you should know that you don’t want anyone with a criminal record or who still lives with his mother at 30. Don’t invest anything into men who have nothing that meets your standards by the initial meeting.
- Having way too many standards: While you should know most of the things you want in a potential love interest, you shouldn’t eliminate possibly great opportunities over small details. Relationships can’t be approached like a “to-do list.” So let’s say you meet the man of your dreams who is feverishly climbing the career ladder, takes his mom to church on Sunday, but dresses like he just stepped off the set to New Jack City…and it’s 2009. It’s all about balance. You have to decide if minor flaws are worth dealing with, if it means to get to enjoy the company of a great man.
- Staying in relationships with no or very little progress: The best relationships, whether they be friendships or family ties, are ones of progress. Relationships should grow in a way where both people are constantly evolving into better versions of themselves. With that said, it is important to choose someone whom you know you can grow with. We’ve all experienced relationships where we have seemed to “grow out” of the person; while one half of the relationship is ready to accept new challenges and approach life differently, the other is content with things remaining the same. There is no specific time line, but your intuition will surely advise you when a relationship becomes stagnant or if the person you’re involved with isn’t trying to move beyond a certain phase of the relationship. If you know your intentions are to get married, have a family or make certain changes within your career, consult your partner about where they see themselves fitting into your future. Gauge by their answer whether they are interested in taking it to the next level, or getting too comfortable. Most importantly, if you come to the conclusion that you are in an affair without a future: LEAVE. Do not pass Go or collect $200. You deserve to be in a relationship that is going places.
- Following someone else’s rules instead of your own: So Cosmo told you that a man will never commit if you bed him the first night. And Beyonce’ told you that if he liked it, then he would’ve put a ring on it. And Monica told you if you don’t get his credit cards and he doesn’t take you to church on Sunday then you’re his sideline hoe. But Monica and Beyonce’ are not in YOUR relationship. The thing is you are in control of your own happiness and only you can decide how your relationship affects you and how you want to perform in that relationship. Just because he treated the last girl like garbage juice, doesn’t mean he will do the same to you. The chances may be greater that he will, but ultimately the choice is yours.
- You’re doing all the “doing” in your relationship Someone once told me you should never treat a man like a priority, when you’re just an option to him. If you’re doing all the calling, planning, and investing into the relationship and he’s just along for the ride, then it’s time to consider if he’s worth the investment. When a man really wants to be with you he makes the effort. This doesn’t mean you have to approach the relationship with a score card with you only titting for his tatting, but if you notice things like if you never called him, you would never hear from him, then you might wanna start looking for someone who thinks you’re worth their energy…because you are.
- There’s plenty of fish in the sea, but you’re fishing in a fish tank So you’ve dated plenty of guys and you’re wondering why every relationship turns out the same. Well, if you’re dating the same “type” of guy, then essentially you ARE reliving the same relationship, over and over and over. As I mentioned before, all women should have standards, but if relationships with your “type” of guy never work out, then maybe you need to find a new type. Some of the best relationships I’ve ever had were the ones in which I ended up finding out things I liked and wanted in a man, that I never previously considered. OK so you always thought you wanted a self-disciplined man like your boss, but there is something incredibly intriguing about the guy from the mail room (and no it’s not just his piercing hazel eyes)…that may be something worth exploring.
- False advertisement What and how you advertise almost always determines your type of audience. It’s like Cliff told Dabnis on The Cosby Show: “It’s all about the presentation.” If you talk like sex and walk like sex then you will have no problem attracting men who want to do just that (and often only that) with you. As women, we were given the great advantage of being naturally sexy without much effort. If you look at yourself physically and mentally and can’t take yourself seriously, how do you expect anyone else to?
- Overanalysis: When a guy is “into” you, you just know. There shouldn’t have to be any investigation or interpretation about it. A woman’s mind is a powerful thing and we will find all kinds of reasons to justify a shitty situation. If you find yourself starting off reasons why he cares with, “Well I know he loves me cuz he….” often, then you have to wonder why there’s a need to convince yourself that he cares. You shouldn’t have to justify he loves you to yourself or anyone else, you should just know. He may not be shouting his feelings from the rooftops, but if he really loves you, it is HIS responsibility to make sure you know that…not your’s.