The Real Difference Between A Relationship That Lasts And One That Doesn’t

Heres a situation Ive definitely found myself in and Im sure you can relate. You meet someone, something clicks, and suddenly a force takes you over.

After this encounter you cantfor the life of youget this guy out of your head. You try to think about other things, but nothing works. You ruminate over every detail of your interaction with himwhat he said, what you said, what his body language said. You think about the things you wish you had said.

You check your phone constantly to see if he called or texted. If he does, your stomach drops, your heart races, you want to leap off your seat and scream for joy. And then of course you need to figure out the exact right thing to say back to him, the perfect quip to show him that youre perfect for each other.

The high continues as you venture into a relationship and becomes even more intense. You never quite know where you stand with him. The uncertainty keeps you on your toes, constantly on alert for something that looks like a bad sign or an ominous foreshadow. This emotional rollercoaster is as exhausting as it is thrilling. Youre hooked. The worst possible thing that could happen is him leaving. Its a fear you cant quite shake no matter how promising the situation looks, a fear that drives everything you say and do.

Now another scenario.

You meet a guy, you think hes nice and all, you have good conversation, he gets your number, and while youre pleased, you dont go into a tizzy over it. You may check his Facebook profile, but only for a few minutes. You are happy to hear from him if he calls or texts, but you dont notice the hours that pass in between your interactions. You go out a few times, not expecting much, but soon enough your interest and attraction begins to grow. Things feel calm, theres no drama, no heart palpitations.and it feels really nice.

Which relationship do you think has a stronger chance of survival?

Instinctively, you would say the second one. In real life, you would fall for the first. Thats because the first scenario illustrates everything weve ever been told about love.

In movies and romance novels, love is this grand, all-consuming force that takes you over in the most dramatic of ways. There are huge obstacles to overcome, but its okay because love conquers all! I mean, would any of us have cared for The Notebook if Ali and Noah were of the same social status, went on a few lukewarm dates, then got to know each other and developed a deepening connection over time? Dont think so.

Unhealthy Relationships Start With A Pull

I hate to do this to you, but Im gonna take the romance right out of those dramatic relationships where you get engulfed in your feelings for the other person. In most cases, the pull we feel to another person is guided by our unconscious desire to rectify some issue from our past.

For instance, if your parents always made you feel like you werent good enough, you may seek out guys who are full of themselves and treat you like youre not worthy of their love in an attempt to rectify those feelings from your past.

If your father was very critical, you may find yourself drawn to a man who is very critical and try to win over his love and approval to heal from the hurt of your fathers rejection. These decisions arent conscious, they happen very deep beneath the surface in areas we cant access. When we meet someone, we immediately assess everything about them (again, this happens unconsciously).

On a conscious level, you may assess the things he said, on an unconscious level, youre looking at his body language, his tone, the way he phrases things, how much eye contact he makes, his demeanor. If your unconscious finds something familiar in that person, something that reminds you of an unresolved hurt from the past, it will light up and push you towards that person. (A great book to learn more on this concept is Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. I would even call it a must-read.)

You may also unconsciously seek out partners who have some quality that is under-developed in you. For example, if youre a Type-A workaholic and always wished you could ease up, you may be drawn to a laid back partner who isnt detail-oriented. These example might not describe your situation, but they illustrate a deeper point.

Unhealthy relationships almost always begin with the pull. The problem is, we dont recognize them as unhealthy because were brought up to believe in things like love at first sight.

Moving away from the psychological factors at work here, infatuation in general can be a dangerous thing. It causes you to put him on a pedestal and overlook his flaws. Since hes so perfect you become afraid to be yourselfI mean, how could your true self ever compete with perfection?

You dont want to say the wrong thing and scare him off, so you arent genuine in your interactions. You rely on his approval so desperately that you also become a bit needy. You may not act needy, but its something that lurks beneath the surface and he will pick up on it they always do.

Healthy Relationships Build Slowly

Healthy relationships, on the other hand, begin with mutual interest and attraction that grows over time. If you can internalize this, it will change the way you date forever.

The best way to have a healthy relationship is to go slow. This will create an environment for you to allow your level of interest and attraction to grow steadily over time, rather than flooding you all at once in a big emotional tsunami. Its difficult to remain objective in relationships, especially for women since we are naturally more emotional.

If you spend all your time with him, you risk overlooking very critical information about who he really is and if this relationship is built to last. Just because people feel strongly for each other doesnt always mean they can be together.

It is imperative to have a foundation of compatibility, shared goals and interests, and common values. Some things simply cant be negotiated. Before you emotionally invest, it is very wise to determine if you are fundamentally compatible. And the best way to do this is go slow.
When you first meet someone, you want to spend every minute of every day with them. You talk for hours and hours on the phone, text all day, and you cant get enough. The obvious reason this is problematic is because you may end up relying too heavily on the relationship for your happiness, but also, you dont get a break from the emotional excitement and stimulation of it all. Then, if you realize this guy may not be right for you, youll be in too deep to get yourself out of the situation. Youll instead rely on some cliche like love conquers all to justify staying with him.

The Solution

I am not saying to stay away from guys you feel a strong immediate attraction to and only date guys who youre only meh about. I think you should date both kinds of guys- the infatuation guy could turn out to be a loser and the meh guy could turn out to be the love of your life (Ive seen it happen countless times!).

Either way you have to date smart. This will come more naturally with meh than it will with the object of your infatuation.

If you just met or just started seeing someone, I strongly advise that you try to go on one to two dates a week and thats it. Also try to keep your phone conversations somewhat short, maybe an hour and a half max. This will give you the chance to get to know the other person while also giving you the space to decide if he is the right match for you.

So many girls make the mistake of getting caught up in how the guy feels about them rather than focusing on how they feel about him.

You can avoid falling into this trap by doing regular reality checks. Make sure you see him and the situation clearly. The best way to do this is to make sure you can recognize his flaws. The way you know youre infatuated is if you see no flaws. Everyone has flaws.

When you get in over your head, you may convince yourself that something like him wanting to live in the country and you wanting to only live in a city is not such a big deal. Someone who maintains a more objective perspective will realize she would be miserable living in the country and since this guy wouldnt live anywhere else, she would get out of the situation.

Ive seen (and personally experienced) many situations where a couple breaks up after a long period of time because of some issue that was apparent right from the beginning- theyre different religions, want to live in different states, one person doesnt want kids. In every one of these situations, the couple believed that things would magically just work out. Imagine how much time, effort, and heartbreak they would have saved had they been dating with their head instead of their heart from the beginning.

Again, the only way youll be able to see him clearly is if you can give yourself the space to clear through the clutter of emotions and keep a firm level of objectivity in the beginning.

In , Stacey Becker shares her story of getting dumped right before her wedding, and how it became one of lifes greatest fortuitous nightmares. Read here.

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