My girlfriends and I sat in a dimly lit corner of our favorite wine bar as we recounted our dating woes at the time to each other—something we seemed to do often. We were ambitious in life, tried to see the positive in things and were well meaning.
You’d think that would be enough to snag someone on the same page, right? Yet there we sat all with basically the same question, “Why do I keep attracting the wrong type of people in my life?”
At the time I was chasing after someone waving so many red flags I still don’t understand why I stuck around. It was a hot and cold relationship stitched together with thin threads of unrealistic expectations and wishful thinking. Eventually (and thankfully) I came to my senses and a move across the country helped end things for good. Once I gathered my wits it was time to dig further into the question my girlfriends and I were so prone to discussing.
It’s been my unofficial mission to find out so that no more time will be wasted on relationships with the wrong people. Why was it that some could attract successful relationships into their life with ease and I was attracting a string of fixer uppers, liars, users, cheaters, and the likes? How did I keep allowing this to happen? There had to be more to it.
What I’ve found is that finding, or rather attracting, the right type of people in your life (romantically or not) takes some work. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it feels like it’s not working, and sometimes you’ll want to spew profanities at the universe.
So, what does it take you ask? What is it that people who attract quality relationships in their life have or do differently that gets them successful relationships?
1. Self Love
When you have love for yourself you want the best for yourself—in all areas of life. Admittedly, this has been one of my biggest challenges. Not being true to myself and recognizing my needs led to a lot of heartache in the form of dating people who didn’t have my best intentions. To them it didn’t seem I had the best intentions for myself either.
Not being able to see my own value in relationships I became emotionally dependent on others to receive love. Making my heart vulnerable to people throwing attention and approval my way in hopes of getting only what they needed out of the relationship. Only when I started to give myself that attention and approval was I able to drain the toxic waste from my life and only allow people in who genuinely cared about my wellbeing in.
Showing others how you need to be treated by treating yourself that way sets boundaries that can only be crossed if you allow it. Make space to do things alone, pursue hobbies, and create a personal relationship. Treating ourselves with love and respect shows potential partners we won’t accept anything less.
2. Invest In Yourself
The most powerful yet simplistic advice I’ve ever received about dating was that learning to love and create a solid relationship with myself would ultimately lead to being able to do the same with someone else. We have so much opportunity to evolve and potential is truly limitless which is why conscious and intentional self-growth is such a beautiful thing.
After the toxic on and off again relationship finally fizzled I took some time off from dating to really dig deep and challenge myself. Taking the time to get to know myself, exploring what made me feel good in life, and just as importantly, taking note of what didn’t started giving me a better understanding of my relationships.
If there’s one thing I found it’s that investing in yourself can be tough because it requires facing our fears, faults and insecurities. Yet it plays such an important role in dating because it creates the self-awareness that helps get to the bottom of why we keep attracting the wrong types of people.
Setting out to do better for yourself begins to attract different types of people, the ones that are on an upward journey as well. The most ironic part of it all is that by putting personal growth first vs. finding someone to fill your time you end up attracting someone just as self-sufficient and confident a lot sooner.
3. Know What You Want
Do you know what you want in a partner? If you do, great! If not take some time to think about it. What is the person you imagine yourself with like? What will you spend time together doing? Are there common interests you’d hope to share?
This gets things in motion to re-focus on the specifics in order to weed out the types of people who aren’t right for us. By now you probably already know what you don’t want, so why not use that to the advantage? Think of it like any other logical pre-cursor to getting what you want i.e. knowing what type of job you’re looking to land before you start applying.
Go one step further by writing (or typing) out a list of all the qualities your future honey will have. Also, consider how they’ll make you feel, things you’ll do together and imagine your ideal relationship. The list can be as long or as short as you want.
But don’t get this confused with a wish list. The purpose of this isn’t about creating the perfect man or woman (more on that later) but about getting clear and being honest with yourself about what you’re truly looking for. From there you can start thinking about how your life reflects these things you’re in search of and start asking questions like, “Where would I find the type of person I’ve listed and what are things I could do to attract them?” If anything it’ll gives some inspiration to get out of your comfort zones to find this type of person and give some insight on your current dating habits.
4. Realize Perfectionism Doesn’t Exist
Ah, the illusion of the perfect partner—hate to break it to you but they’re not out there. Just so we’re on the same page, holding onto expectations too tightly is very different from having boundaries. Boundaries are a necessity and keep us from dating anything less than we deserve but when we expect someone to live a certain way because we believe it’s right, that’s another story.
Let go of the need for others to abide by your rules of life. A misconception many people have, including myself at one point in time, is that love is about ownership. We don’t even realize we feel that way because we’re too busy convincing, controlling and correcting our partners to fit into the way we view reality. It’s our ego’s way of trying to do what’s best for us but it can be a real relationship destroyer.
At the end of the day it’s not about whether someone’s right or wrong but whether what they’re doing or saying is with good intentions. So yes, the people we date might do things totally different or act strange, annoying (like the guy I once dated who insisted on talking like a baby to his dog), etc. but sometimes love is agreeing to disagree.
It’s about wanting your partner to be happy without it being about you and letting them wear their true colors. When you show up to love without being armed with criticism, judgment or ready to go to work fixing someone up that’s when two people can really connect.
5. Have Patience
Patience is probably the last thing you want to hear about when you’re so ready to meet someone. But the truth is there’s no guaranteed timeline because self-growth and love can be a long process. Depending where you’re at on that journey there may still be many lessons to be learned before you find someone.
Keeping a positive mindset will always help. Yes, it can be frustrating yes, it can be lonely but don’t settle for less because of that. It takes time for the dust to settle from our past before our authentic selves can poke through. Take my hot and cold relationship for example since it was created out of not wanting to be alone.
Think of all the work you’re putting in like shining a light into the darkness. The light acts as a guide to attract the right person to you. Once it does, take notice of the types people who come into your life.
Learning to let go of expectations, accept and love yourself, and having patience throughout the process involves a lot of work as you’ve probably noticed. But as I’m slowly learning, when we’re happy with ourselves we won’t comprise by letting the wrong people into our lives to fill a void. We’ll be too busy out there living life to its full potential with or without someone by our side.