Finding the right kind of love can be challenging enough without self-defeating behaviors… and too many people are their own worst enemy. They repeat bad patterns, pick the wrong people, and live in the past. For many, they think they have had many bad relationships… but what they might not realize is that they have had one bad relationship many times.
Here are the top three ways you stop yourself from finding the relationship you deserve:
1. You put your ex on a pedestal.
After a breakup we sometimes see our exes as our perfect matches, convincing ourselves that we won’t find another like them and blaming ourselves for what happened. But even more often, we look past the issues that caused the breakup and remember only the good parts of the relationship. Both of these singular viewpoints can have a detrimental effect on future relationships for a number of reasons:
• You think, "No one will ever be like them." You compare future romantic interests to the good parts of your past relationship. As a result, you search for and find all the flaws in the new guy, and talk yourself out of discovering someone new.
• No self-reflection or transition past the relationship. By mentally staying in a past relationship, you limit yourself for the future. You subconsciously stay stagnant in the hopes that he might return and you'll be back together.
• You think, "Nothing like my first love." An ex from long ago can affect even established relationships. If you still hold a candle for a first love, instead of investing in your present with a current partner, you can sabotage your relationship. You'll struggle with unnecessary arguments, tension and disconnection because you'll keep your current partner at arm's length emotionally.
2. You try to make the relationship work all by yourself.
Too many people get stuck in thinking that the relationship needs them to make it work. You may get treated well, but your partner isn't actively investing — they’re doing the bare minimum to keep the relationship going. This causes you to wonder what you're doing wrong. Most often, this situation is the result of having your self-esteem locked up in that relationship. You think that if you do more, your partner will come around and love you. Then, you will finally be worthy of love. This is a self-esteem trap, and it leads to clinginess, insecurity and (in extreme cases) love addiction.
A relationship takes two people. If one is gun-shy — or not on the same page emotionally — there will be a disconnection, which can lead to a kind of cat-and-mouse game. You need to have a firm grasp on your values and your identity. If you don't know how to be happy with yourself, you won't know how to be happy in a relationship.
3. You have a vendetta against all members of the opposite sex.
With the anger that can accompany some breakups — or if you've had a number of bad relationships in a row — you might try to convince yourself that all men/women are bad. With that mentality, you won't need to invest, trust or develop an intimate relationship with anyone again. But it's not healthy and it doesn't acknowledge that love is not so black and white, with everyone in the world embodying the same negative traits. Even if they were the worst person possible, you had your own contributions to what made the relationship fail — even if your only “contribution” was that you ignored red flags, stayed too long, or allowed yourself to be in a disconnected relationship.
Some people fool themselves and embrace bitterness with statements like, "There's no such thing as love. I just want to be single." But what many are truly saying is, "I've been hurt and I'm not willing to put myself out there to be hurt again." What’s needed is a realization is that not everyone is the same. All relationships are different. Love is great, but you have to love and trust yourself before someone else can join you.
Moving past a bad relationship takes a concerted effort to accept (what happened and your part in things), forgive (yourself and others) and change. In the end, it becomes a simple choice: Either you choose to live back where you were or you choose to live where you are. My advice: Learn what you can from what happened, but there is no reason to stay focused on the past… unless you plan on going that way.
Charles J. Orlando is relationship expert and author of the bestselling book series “The Problem with Women… is Men®.” Find out more about Charles on hiswebsite, or visit him onFacebookfor real-world love advice.