We are emotional choosers and it ruins everything.
We get into dating the same way we purchase clothes. Behavioral economists have known for years that people make emotional purchases at the store, and then justify their decisions afterwards.
We’re the same way with relationships. Entering commitments based off short term passion, and then rationalizing the person’s flaws and incompatibilities later.
But in the case of choosing a relationship the downside is disastrously worse.
No matter how strong your initial bond may be, if you don’t know a few critical things before the relationship gets serious, you don’t stand a chance.
1. You Guys Don’t Really Want the Same Relationship
Do people cheat because the love fades away, or could it be one person didn’t actually want a commitment in the first place? Either way it was the wrong thing to do, but in the second case the problem could have been avoided altogether.
Both you and your partner should be almost anally clear about what type of relationship you want.
You may think you want a commitment, but in reality you just wanted a flirting buddy to go out with once a week. Your partner may truly want to casually date three or four people at once. There’s nothing wrong with either of these options, as long as we’re honest about it.
In terms of tendencies, guys tend to enter committed relationships they don’t want, while girls enter non-committal relationships (and then justify it later). This is, of course, a trend not a rule.
Your ideal relationship type is a hard thing to decide. You both need to spend time thinking about this in order to not get some cliché answer. The main issue is dealing with your own internal contradictions, such as wanting someone to call your own while also wanting freedom to roam. Force yourself to make a choice, atleast for the time being.
Whenever someone doesn’t have clarity, they’ll gravitate towards whatever has the least resistance – meaning whatever the more aggressive person in the relationship wants is what’s going to end up happening, whether the other person wants it or not.
Either have the uncomfortable conversation now or have a dozen heartbreaking ones later.
2. They Can’t Handle Negative Emotions
If your future partner can’t control their emotions when bad things comes up, when the problem is between the two of you, how do you expect the situation to go?
To be clear, we’re looking at the reactions to their emotions. There’s no need to fault them for feeling sad, angry, or stressed in the first place; just be aware of what happens after the fact.
When things inevitably go wrong, emotional control is the difference between having an Ally or an Adversary for a partner.
Ally: “We’re working through some things”
Adversary: “We’re fighting”
And this isn’t just about changing your language, although that is important. It’s that if they don’t seem like they have any issues, then you definitely don’t know them enough to start dating seriously. Seriously.
Figuring out their emotional control can be hard – try to pick up whatever you can through subtle cues on how they respond to school, work, or day to day annoyances. But also make sure to get a couple questions in about their past relationships. There’s no need to ask other people about their history, just ask them.
It’s not about finding someone without any issues. But someone who gives a damn enough to want to change. Which leads us to our next point.
3. They aren’t Actively Growing Themselves
“One does not fall ‘in’ or ‘out’ of love. One grows in love.”
– Leo Buscaglia
Here’s something to remember: Love is two people actively growing together. Anything else is just attachment.
We’re all too familiar with the idea of growing out of love, but growing in love is somehow foreign to us, even though it’s the foundation of a great relationship.
Your partner doesn’t need to be some Self-Help junkie or go for a run every morning, but they do need to be doing something that moves their lives forward. Just being in school doesn’t count, there needs to be more.
Here’s why this is important
- The lack of responsibility shows up everywhere. Meaning, if he/she is not responsible for their own life, they won’t expect themselves to be held responsible for keeping your relationship strong. In their mind, if something goes wrong, that’s on you.
- They won’t support you and your growth. This isn’t to say that they will deliberately try to hold back, but it may sure feel that way.
- Or you’ll end up taking care of them. If they do support you emotionally, then be prepared to mother them while you carry all the weight. Even if you guys aren’t of the age to be living together, this makes a difference.
As humans, we are at our happiest when we feel a sense of progress, so if someone is not helping us progress, then they’re not really making us happy. We’re just attached to them.
4. You killed it
It’s fun (and easy) to spend time thinking what a great match for us would look like, but then we never ask the important follow up question, What traits am I going to need in order to attract this person?
This means not just figuring out your own answers to the questions laid out above, but managing all your other issues. Relationships are great at showcasing the worse parts of yourself. While single, you can ignore your problems with jealousy, anger, or insecurity – but in a relationship, all that stuff bubbles up to the surface and you either need to deal with it or suffer.
Like we’ve mentioned, a good relationship is one where you grow together, so you don’t need everything in your life completely solved beforehand, but you do need to acknowledge that your flaws are there.
And if someone you’re dating flips out when you try to find out these things about them. You just saved yourself one terrible relationship with an immature person. Congrats.