How I Finally Learned To Stop Dating Guys Who Aren’t Right For Me

We’ve all dated guys who are totally wrong for us in every way before, but some of us continue the trend for years on end. It was a long, deliberate process that finally got me to stop making the same mistakes over and over again. Here are the steps it took for me to stop dating the wrong dudes:

  1. I got my heart broken, badly. As will happen, I was dating the wrong guy for me and it didn’t work out. The problem is that I was hopelessly in love with him, despite all our issues and our general incompatibility. I simply adored him. When it ended for good, I had a terribly difficult time. I was inconsolable for months.
  2. I hit rock bottom. Post-breakup, I got extremely depressed. As the days and weeks wore on and I realized it was really, truly over, I could barely get myself out of bed. I basically slept and dragged myself to work and that was about it. I didn’t eat for months. I couldn’t sleep all night and then I couldn’t get up during the day. I binge watched all the seasons of Parenthood and cried my eyes out. It was bad.
  3. I started some serious self-care. When it got really bad — scary bad, suicidal bad — I knew I had to do something. I had no choice. I wasn’t going to take the easy way out, but I desperately needed to make major changes in my life. I started going to meditation and classes on Buddhist teachings. I got back into therapy. I made yoga a near-daily practice. I took bubble baths and slept late when I needed to and went out with my friends because they made me laugh. I did what I had to do.
  4. I began trying new things. Once I became somewhat functional again, I decided I would use my new freedom to explore. I picked up some new hobbies. I tried stuff I’ve always wanted to do but had never actually attempted. I began taking the time to figure out who I am on my own. I stopped worrying about what people think of me. It was exhilarating, freeing and endlessly rewarding.
  5. I looked at my own mistakes. Difficult as it was, I had to acknowledge my role in the end of my relationship. It wasn’t any one person’s fault, but I was definitely to blame as much as he was. I always took the stance before that I was a wonderful girlfriend and he didn’t appreciate me. In hindsight, I saw that I screwed up too… a lot. It was difficult to admit, and I had to work through a lot of regret, but it had to be done.
  6. I started therapy. This was crucial to both my health and the health of my relationships with others. I realized that I was either dumping far too much on my friends and family or hiding it all inside. Neither was healthy. I needed someone to talk to, so I went out and found someone. I’ve been going to weekly sessions with her for nearly a year now and it’s made a marked difference in my life.
  7. I journaled. A lot. I’ve always used writing as a way of expressing myself and working through my problems. I’m sure I wrote the same sentiments over and over again, but it still helped. Sometimes when I had no one to listen, the paper was there waiting for me as my silent comfort. I value my journals as reminders of past mistakes and experiences.
  8. I began looking at what I really need. My ex couldn’t give that to me. It wasn’t his fault. I’d simply chosen the wrong guy. Getting so sad over losing him helped me decide that I needed to be more selective before I got in too deep the next time. It also helped me realize that it’s better to be alone and wait for the right person than just jump in head first with whoever.
  9. I started loving myself. It sounds corny, but it’s so important. You really can’t be in a healthy relationship with someone else until you’re in one with yourself. I’ve never loved myself, and I’ve always instead poured all the love I should be giving to me into some man instead. It’s not a good place to be. I decided I had to do all the hard work necessary to accept and care about me before I went out looking for love again.
  10. I grew strong and independent. It was a slow process, and it continues even now, but I could feel my own progress happening. The more I discovered about myself and the more I tried to do outside of my comfort zone, the stronger I got. Every new adventure and experience developed my confidence and my belief in myself. I’m not even the same person I was a year ago.
  11. I’m no longer afraid to be alone. A large part of learning not to date the wrong guys is just knowing when not to date at all. I was always trying to fill this sad, lonely void inside me. Of course I’m going to pick the wrong men if that’s my motivation. I have found a lot of happiness and joy in my many months as a single woman. They don’t seem likely to end anytime soon, but I’m perfectly okay with that. I know that someday they will, so I appreciate my current independence.
  12. I developed patience. I had to learn to be patient with myself so that I can in turn be patient with others. There’s no happiness in living in constant judgment of yourself and those around you. It’s a miserable existence. I didn’t want to be that insecure, jealous, unhappy person anymore. Life is too short to worry so much about what other people are or are not doing. It’s not about that.
  13. I learned to identify red flags early on. Instead of brushing aside warning signs because a guy is cute or because I have a crush on him, I started listening to my instincts. When something doesn’t feel right now, I pay attention. I will give the guy a second chance, but most of the time I was right about him from the very beginning. I no longer make excuses. I simply say goodbye and move along.
  14. I taught myself to say no. It’s not worth a bad dating situation. None of it. Not sex, not companionship, not someone to talk to when you’re feeling bored or lonely. It’s just not. I learned that as difficult as it is, and as tempting as it is to keep going with someone even if you know that he isn’t your guy…you have to just cut it off. I learned to tell guys that things aren’t working out and I don’t want to see them anymore. I’ve never been able to do that.
  15. I trust my instincts now. Instead of ignoring when my gut tells me that I’m not happy, I listen to it now. I don’t overthink or rationalize the situation. I just listen and get out when I’m supposed to get out. It doesn’t have to make sense. All I need to know is that I’m not happy and it’s just not right. I don’t have to have specific reasons. I just know what I need, and I know when I’m not getting it.
  16. I know it’s better to wait than settle. I used to think I could date someone casually “in the meantime” while waiting for something better to happen, but that’s not fair to me or the other person. Not only am I spending my time and energy on a dead-end relationship, but I’m tricking him into thinking that it might go somewhere. Nope. Much better to focus on myself and my own growth so when I finally do meet the right guy, I’m absolutely ready for him!
A former actress who has always loved the art of the written word, Amy is excited to be here sharing her stories! She just completed her first novel, and is also a contributor for Elite Daily, Dirty & Thirty, and Thought Catalog. Amy is the founder of What If Journey and can be found on Twitter @amyhorton18. You can also visit her website at