I used to be a serial dater and a serial monogamist. I went about eight years without being alone for more than a few days or weeks. I jumped from relationship after relationship, and eventually my world came crashing down and I couldn’t live that way anymore. In hindsight, here’s what I learned:
The chase is fun, but it left me burned out after a while.
Getting excited about a new perspective lover is great and all, but I couldn’t keep chasing. I was almost more addicted to the endorphins in the beginning than I was interested in anything long-term. This energized madness only left me burned out and alone.
I fell in love with the idea of people, never the people themselves.
Because I was so amped by chemistry with someone, I didn’t slow down enough to check and see if we were actually compatible. I would formulate a story in my mind about who the person was. I wanted the delusion I created to be the world we lived in, but creating fantasies bit me in the butt. I inevitably grew disappointed in partners when they didn’t meet my crazy expectations and I left.
Getting physical too fast gets in the way.
Since I was mistaking lust for love, I would get physical with someone on the first few dates. Getting sexual before we created any true intimacy just resulted into a shell of a relationship. The partnership revolved around animal-like physical intimacy, then when that got old, I usually skipped out on the person. Now I’m learning that I need to slow things way down from my old levels in order to gauge if I actually like someone! When sex is involved too soon, the endorphins make a muck of things before I can get a clean read.
I used to think that I could make it work with anyone.
Since I wasn’t living in reality, I couldn’t see how utterly incompatible I was with most people I dated. I believed an interesting idea: that I could make a relationship work with anyone. I thought that if I was hot enough and manipulated the person just right, we could make it work. Ah, it was an exhausting way to be in relation to other people. I learned that I’m actually incompatible with most people — I’d dare to say up to 99 percent of the population!
If I try to predict the future, I’m almost sure to get it wrong.
Like I said, I loved my fantasy world. I really thought I had it all figured out in my head. After predicting happily ever after a couple dozen times with different people and getting it way wrong, I realized I actually have no idea what outcomes will be. Even now, in kind and loving relationships, I still can’t know if someone is my forever person. I really have to take relationships (and the rest of my life) a day at a time.
No human can fix me.
A huge reason why I was serial dating, or jumping from relationship to relationship, was because I was trying to find someone who could finally make me feel okay in my own skin. I wanted a human to cure the constant ache in my chest. No matter how much I thought the next person was going to fix me, they never did. Even when I found someone who loved me to pieces, they couldn’t take away that ache. I learned that I was expecting way too much from a person. Instead, I found my way to a few spiritual practices that could actually help the ache.
Pain can be the greatest teacher.
I kept putting my hand on the metaphorical stove and getting burnt over and over again. It wasn’t until probably my 50th blister that I learned not to put my hand on a hot stove. At the end, I had enough with breaking my own heart and the hearts of others. The pain I was in motivated me to take an honest look at the way I was living and to try to move in another direction. Now when I get the urge to put my hand on a hot stove, I remember how much it burned last time.
After not listening to my intuition for too long, I realized I had gut instincts for a reason.
Ever heard of the canaries in the coal mine? Miners would take the birds down into the mines because the canaries would stop singing when the toxins in the air got too severe. If the coal miners didn’t get out in time, the canaries would die, then the miners would die soon after. Drastic example, but I learned my gut instincts are like the canaries. My intuition often signals to me far before something bad is going to happen, and if I don’t listen or get out in time, I have devastating consequences like being sexually assaulted. After losing too many metaphorical canaries, I started listening to the signals earlier.
I need friends for a second opinion; otherwise, I’m great at justification.
I never used to tell my friends what happened with who I was dating. My partner and I would make a real mess of things. We may have been cheating on each other, being codependent, or being overly suspicious of one another. Whatever the flavor of toxic, I kept it to myself. Hiding resulted in disaster after disaster. Eventually, I looped friends into my love life. I’d listen to their concerns and I learned to trust them more than whoever I was dating. I realized that friends can keep me honest and healthy. They can help me check myself so I’m not justifying poor behavior on anyone’s part.
I didn’t realize I had limiting beliefs holding me back.
We all have tapes playing in our heads, most of them from childhood. My tapes were mean and incredibly sneaky. They whispered to me that I was unlovable, unworthy, and incapable of having healthy relationships. Of course these beliefs destroyed any chance at a nice relationship. I had to learn to recognize and challenge them over the years if I wanted to have any semblance of a healthy relationship.
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