“When you stop trying to change others and work on changing yourself, your world changes for the better.” ~Unknown
For years, I was entering relationships with men where I saw their potential to be a good match for me, if only they would completely change who they were.
For twelve years, it was the same pattern until one day I finally realized something was broken.
After my last unsuccessful relationship, where I was just holding on, hoping he would change and be the person I wanted him to be, I had had enough. So, I took a much-needed hiatus to regroup, reprogram, and refocus.
My sorority sister used to say, “If you always do what you always done, you’ll always get what you already got.” So, what was I doing that constantly attracted me to men who were not a good fit for me? What was so compelling to me about that?
Here’s what I discovered: The tape that continued to play in my mind said, “I am not able to attract a man with a steady, regular job who’ll make time for me, and is emotionally available.” So, I constantly attracted men who were emotionally damaged, who cheated on and ignored me.
Now that I knew what attracted me, I wanted to figure out what made me stay in so many loveless relationships.
I’m almost ashamed to admit it but I stayed in relationships I should have never started because I thought I could change save them. They were hurt and I could treat them better than their previous lover because, let’s face it, I’m better than everyone.
I was going to swoop in and save the day and show “him” how much better I was than “she” was to “him.” And “he” will not cheat on me like “he” did “her.”
But, guess what? “He” always did. Always.
And I always took it as a personal failure. As if I had failed “him” somehow, because I wasn’t even good enough, much less better. It never occurred to me that “he” might have been just a jerk to begin with.
After finally learning my lesson, I’m now ready to re-enter the dating arena, and I’ve made three promises to myself. If you’ve also attracted unhealthy relationships, perhaps these could help you, too.
1. I will trust myself.
Many times in the past, I can remember thinking this relationship was not a good idea, or something wasn’t right. But I didn’t listen. And as my grandmother used to say, “If you don’t hear, you feel.”
When you feel something is off, make the determination of whether you are just nervous because you’re afraid of making another mistake, or if something really feels off. When your intuition tells you something is wrong, move on.
Trust that you know what is best for your happiness. You are the only one who does.
2. I will value myself.
Moving on is much easier to do now that I’ve raised, expanded, and updated my standards. Looking back, it seems that my only requirements were that he be breathing and he liked me.
For you, it may be time to reevaluate your standards and decide that you deserve to have a happy, healthy relationship with someone who meets your needs.
Create a list of your top three non-negotiables, and even when you get slack from your friends and family, who mean well, telling you your standards are high or you’re being too picky, don’t waver.
Not listening to your intuition is what most likely got you in this dating predicament in the first place, so value yourself and stop ignoring your inner voice.
3. I will focus on myself.
Worrying about whether the other person was happy or not in my past relationships was emotionally draining, and never created a happy ending for me. So I’m bringing the focus back on me. I’m no longer looking to fix, change, or save anyone, nor restore their faith in relationships, and neither should you.
If this has been an issue for you, read these next words carefully: It’s not your job to make the other person happy. It’s theirs.
Believe me, you will save yourself a lot of wasted years, tears, and time by following this one rule.
If you’re ready to take responsibility for your dating life, consider taking a break to reevaluate your previous relationships, update and expand your standards, and work on your own happiness first. You’ll be a happier, more whole and joyful person—which can ultimately lead you to the relationship you want.