Healthy relationships were never really my forte, but I was great at breakups. I was so good at them that often I found myself in almost identical situations one after the other. After a while, it became evident that I needed to pump the breaks on my toxic dating patterns if I had any hope of finding a strong, healthy relationship. Here’s how I broke the cycle.
I stopped pretending I was a robot. Giving the guy credit for taking up any real estate in my heart was something I was too proud to do before. I mean, there would always be someone else, right? That was a big part of the problem. It wasn’t until I owned up to the feeling of loss in my heart that I created the space to love.
I allowed myself to be sad. It sucks to feel sad, and if I could avoid it altogether, why not? Sadly, putting a smiley face band-aid on my pain only kept me from processing my feelings so that I could move on without carrying tons of baggage. Because of that, I continued to attract co-dependent relationships with my sad, incomplete energy.
I admitted to myself and the world that I was ready to find “The One.” It was finally time. Before, I used to calmly say things like, “I’ll know him when I meet him” or “I’m in no hurry to find something serious.” Unfortunately, that never led to any serious or even halfway fulfilling relationships. I was ready to meet the love of my life and I finally owned up to it. I figured that by putting it out there, I must be upping my chances.
I stepped away from the dating game for a while. It was so tempting to jump in head-first with any guy who seemed like he might be a good fit for me. The thought that my potential soulmate could be right there and I was going to intentionally not date him was scary. Still, I knew I wasn’t ready yet. It would have been so easy to turn to dating to take my mind off being in my early thirties and still single, but if I did that, I would’ve landed right back in an unhealthy relationship.
I declined hookup offers. Considering that I was looking for a lifetime love, hooking up with a guy that offered no relationship potential would have been a terrible idea. Thankfully, because I had already committed to all of the previous steps, this one was pretty easy to follow through on.
I got clear about what I want in a relationship. As crazy as this sounds, that was something I’d never sat down and worked out before but I hadn’t and that was a big part of the reason my relationships were such a disaster. I relied on only attraction to decide my boyfriends for me and it was time to change that for good. Figuring out what I wanted and needed in love was a must.
I prioritized all loving relationships in my life. Once I started embracing healthier habits, it dawned on me that I already had so much love in my life. If I wanted a fantastic romantic relationship, I needed to embrace and nurture love in all the forms it already existed in my life. So I packed up my bags and moved across the country to be near my family again. It may sound dramatic, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my happiness.
I was open with the guys I met that I was ready to settle down and have a family. In the past, I would’ve claimed that marriage and kids weren’t even on my radar when the topic came up with a potential romantic interest. What I didn’t know was that as soon as I said that, I put myself in a guy’s “for right now” category and the only ones who were interested in me were the ones who planned to be eternal bachelors. Clearly, that wasn’t working out so well. It felt so liberating to finally be honest about what I wanted, and men respected it too.
I decided that the next guy I dated would be the last. Taking it a step further from declaring that I was ready to meet “The One,” I decided that I wouldn’t get into a relationship again unless we both felt that this could be it for us. That may sound totally crazy and it did take an enormous leap of faith, but you get what you ask for. Indeed, my next boyfriend turned out to be my husband.
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