Here’s How To Stop Ending Up With Guys Who Aren’t Serious

You swear you’re through with dudes who don’t give you 100 percent, but you’re caught in a vicious cycle: you keep tolerating mediocre behavior and you’re not sure why. No matter how many times you’ve endured the same pattern, don’t give up hope. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you break free:

  1. There are better ways to handle loneliness. The truth is, if you ditch the current slacker you’re seeing, there’s no guarantee of finding a replacement. Maybe you’re staying in a lackluster romantic situation because you’re not ready to update your Facebook status to “in a relationship with pizza,” but going along with a half-assed partnership isn’t the best way to assuage your anxiety about being alone.
  2. It’s okay if you don’t really know what you’re looking for yet. Don’t worry that you’re still out there kissing frogs. Some of us need to do more research than others before finding happily ever after — and that research is messy! How can you make sure a man is giving you his best before you really know what’s best for you? Most accomplished people failed hundreds of times before finding success. Just because your love life is still an experimental wreck doesn’t mean it’ll always be that way.
  3. Sometimes a guy who has all the qualities you need in one area is selfish in others. He might be the world’s best listener but he lacks follow through. Or maybe he lavishes you with constant fun but never slows down long enough to think about the future. If one aspect of the guy feels so right, it’s painful to admit that others feel wrong. Sometimes when you know in your gut that you’re unfulfilled, you have to do the hard thing and walk away.
  4. It’s great to find the best in everyone, as long as you don’t sacrifice yourself in the process. You realize that no one’s perfect and that sometimes a diamond in the rough needs the right partner to see their potential. Your positivity is awesome, but when your optimism turns to excuse making, beware. If he hasn’t done you right, feel free to call him out. You’re not being unsupportive — you’re showing him that you have faith in his ability to improve.
  5. If you’re in it for the drama, you can find other ways to fulfill your needs. Getting hurt sucks, but perhaps there are benefits you hesitate to let go of. Do you earn support and attention from your girlfriends when you’re in a lame relationship? A scapegoat for other issues in your life? Without judging yourself or getting defensive, dig deep to find out if there’s some part of the disaster that actually makes you feel good. Only then can you find a healthy replacement.
  6. When you truly realize your own worth, it’s easier to expect the best from guys. Even if you consciously believe that you deserve true love, sneaky, painful insecurities can gnaw away your confidence. If you need to put boys on the back burner for a while to focus on self-love, that’s totally fine. Anybody who judges you for it is way out of line.
  7. Assembling an amazing team makes a big difference. When you surround yourself with soul-nurturing people, you’re unlikely to depend on a less-than-the-best beau. True friends always speak from a place of love. It’s okay if they critique you occasionally–sometimes everybody needs to hear tactfully delivered hard truths. You’ll know they’re good in your life because even the tough talks won’t drain you. These pals will make you feel excited to continue working on yourself. And they’ll have your back every step of the way.
  8. Slow progress is still progress. You’re not necessarily going to morph into Badass Betty overnight. Rather than expecting huge transformation, take pride in your more modest accomplishments. Even simple things can make a difference. So you start by unfriending all your slimy exes on Facebook. Then you block the douche who’s been breadcrumbing you. Gradually, the good choices add up, and you find yourself in happier, healthier relationships.
  9. You don’t owe it to anyone to find love. There’s so much pressure to “grow up” and find the guy already. People convey judgment through cruel labels like “too picky” and “crazy.”  Even though these wanna-be experts don’t actually know the inner workings of your relationship, they still analyze your every move. No, you’re not being “too picky” when you expect a guy to care about your feelings. Do whatever you can to turn down the volume on people who thinks you should settle for less than you know you deserve. Keeping the negativity at bay will empower you to seek better relationships.
  10. Everyone gets played sometimes. How do you think strong women got strong? They went through a lot. They experienced bad behavior from unworthy guys. And then they realized that in order to make it out of despair, they would have to believe in themselves. Every woman is strong. We’re simply all at different stages of the game.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.