Have you noticed that the last few boyfriends in your life were very alike? Could you list them as either “party animal”, “commitment-shy” or “jealous and controlling”? Chances are you’re attracted to a certain type.
Ask yourself: Why are you drawn to a certain type of lover like a moth to a flame? And once you’re dating him, why do you always end up feeling miserable and cynical about love?
To answer this, you need to identify the emotional issues you’re carrying, work out how they influence what you think and feel about yourself and how it affects what you look for in a partner.
Here are the most common reasons women just keep returning to “Mr Wrong”:
- You’re hooked
You’re just a sucker for his sweet little lies. From the first date, he tells you you’re the most beautiful woman he’s ever met; he showers you with flowers and dinners; he tells you he and his wife are having problems and he’s going to leave her soon; he wants to have babies with you or he’ll pay lobolo as soon as his finances are sorted out; etc. But as soon as he gets into your bed, the compliments dry up and he becomes “Mr Unreliable” – always running late, doesn’t turn up and his cellphone is on silent.
Reality check: Men don’t have all the right moves or lines and if they do, chances are they have a one-night stand and not a relationship on their minds. The trouble is, you fall for the romantic guys who are fun to be with but make the worst long-term partner. After a few months, those “star” qualities won’t keep your relationship going.
Tip Teach yourself to stand back when you meet a new guy and recognise when he really means what he says and when he’s just feeding you a line. Look beyond the surface to ensure he has the kind of qualities that make for a happy relationship in the long-term, not just tonight or next week.
- Looking for perfection
The minute there’s a slight problem – he doesn’t wear trendy clothes all the time or eats with his mouth open, for instance – your bubble bursts and you worry he’s not going to live up to your idea of perfection.
Reality check: Though this kind of pattern suggests the problem is with the men you’re dating, in fact, it’s really you. Setting unrealistic standards for a relationship often indicates a fear that you’re not worthy of happiness.
Tip The next time you feel dissatisfied with your partner, try to hang in there. Listen to your partner’s point of view, so you can both be heard and then decide whether to agree, agree to disagree or come to a compromise. Start actively working on settling disputes through discussion rather than argument.
- Your exes
Were you hurt by a previous unhappy relationship? Then maybe you’re trying to find someone just like your ex, so that you can right those wrongs and restore your self-esteem. Or perhaps you’re going for someone who’s the complete opposite, in the hope that you won’t get hurt again.
Reality check: The reason you keep choosing the wrong partner is because you’re choosing men for all the wrong reasons.
Tip Try to date men who have a wide variety of personality types. It might be all it takes to give you enough distance and, eventually, the room to overcome the past and blossom in love.
- The chase
Does your outlook on life change when you start dating a new guy? You’re happy, energetic and positive. But the minute you become an item the love starts to fade, the relationship loses its shine and you want to call it quits.
Reality check: Love has different levels. The first stage of dating might be fantastic but so is the next stage, when you really get to know each other – if you allow yourself to get to that point. To enjoy this second phase of commitment, you have to let go of the idea that romantic love remains static and doesn’t change.
There’s no denying that romantic love is a wonderful thing, but it’s also not sustainable, because it’s not based on reality.
The only way to keep up these illusions of each other is to delay becoming intimate. As you get to know someone, your relationship becomes deeper as you become more familiar.
This is not a sign that love is fading, it’s actually a sign that the relationship is healthy and growing and has more substance to it than the short-term influence of lust.