The longer we date a person,
the greater the chances that we will be
able to see his or her 'true' self.
As stated in the previous articles, the first step in avoiding the wrong partner is be aware of what goes on in ourselves. What in us drives us to the wrong partner? Is there a pattern of relationships that we can trace back to our family of origin? Is it the way relate to our partner that makes us the wrong partner?
The next steps would be:
1. Beware of false advertising:
There is a tale about a man walking down the street who sees a sign advertising: 'Pants cleaned while you wait.' He walks inside and hands his pants to the person behind the counter. She seems shocked and appalled with him as he stands there in his underwear. She asks him what he wants. He says, 'I want my pants cleaned. I saw your sign in the window.' To this she replies, 'We do not clean pants. We make signs.' So often in relationships, the signs are misleading, or we misread them.
We all know that there are people who aren't always what they appear to be. At the beginning of the relationship, they may be very charming and romantic, but later we discover they are sitting on a keg of explosives.
2. Look out for 'bait and switch:'
The first stage of a relationship is sometimes called the 'romantic' or the 'unrealistic' stage.
During this time of courtship, we present ourselves in a way that will be appealing to our prospective partner. We are careful not to show our temper and to be more tolerant. We are going to be more patient, understanding, charming and caring. Hence, the reason we call this stage the 'unrealistic' stage.
3. Take your time:
Considering all the above, it would be wise for us to take our time in getting to know our prospective partner. The longer we date a person, the greater the chances that we will be able to see his or her 'true' self. Do we know how he or she handles conflict? Do we know what his or her role expectations are? What does love mean to our prospective partner?
4. Ask what part your partner contributed to the failed relationship:
If our prospective partner is divorced, it would be wise to discover what went wrong. A red flag might be if he or she blames the ex-partner for all the problems.
A sign of maturity is when our prospective partner is accountable for his or her actions and has learned and changed from the failed relationship. It might be helpful to ask, 'What did you learn about yourself in that failed relationship, and how would you do it differently?'
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700