Why Do I Keep Ditching Guys?

 By Nina Atwood

Dear Singlescoach: I read your book Be Your Own Dating Service and loved it; however I found myself startled when I read the term “Westbound Train” because I realize, I think I am one! I mostly relate to the ‘I Love you but.. ‘ syndrome–In all my relationships I’ve never wanted to fully commit thinking there might be better. I’ve tended to never be fully satisfied with the person, only finding them attractive conditionally (if they wore their hair a certain way, wore certain clothes, did certain things etc.), and eventually break up with them because I feel like I can do better or I’m just not attracted to them anymore. So I think I’m always looking for the next best thing - I want to find someone who I’ll always be excited by and find attractive. But how do I know if this is a problem I have, or if I just haven’t found the right person yet and have been settling in the meantime for my less-than-ideal, which inevitably leads to me critiquing them and not being satisfied with them?

– Deanna

Dear Deanna,

It’s definitely your problem – in all of my life issues, I am the common denominator – so that’s the place to begin. The first step is ownership of the issue, and that means taking responsibility for making choices that have led you down the road of dissatisfaction. Let’s zero in on the first three dates.

The purpose of the first three dates is to decide whether or not a relationship is possible with this person, and I mean a good, loving relationship, not just a connection for the mutual satisfaction of certain needs (i.e., companionship, sex, or to stave off loneliness). With that kind of purpose and with clarity about what you are looking for (as you know, from reading Be Your Own Dating Service), you are positioned to make a wise choice.

The first three dates should be spent looking at these two things: 1. Do we share common values and life paths?, and 2. Is there chemistry between us? It’s the chemistry part that may be lacking in your case. Here’s what I know – when two people feel a genuine attraction (intellectual, emotional, physical), then things like hair and clothing are unimportant. Another way to look at it is this – we are attracted to the whole package when the chemistry is good. If the chemistry is poor, we focus on superficial things such as hair and clothes as a way to justify moving on.

Your next task in dating is to learn to listen to your heart and your, for lack of a better word, loins. When you’re sitting there at dinner, do you feel a certain warmth that spreads from your heart and goes down below the tablecloth? If so, you are experiencing chemistry. If not, move on!

On a deeper level, I suspect that you’re hanging out in settle-for relationships because it keeps you safe. Minus chemistry, there’s little glue and therefore less risk of being hurt. To attract a truly great relationship, you must be willing to take some risk, but not over-the-top risk like you take when you hook up with an emotionally unavailabe guy. I wonder if you had that experience earlier in your life, got burned, and swung over the other way – no-chemistry, settle for, SAFE relationships. Give up being so safe, Deanna, and you will be ready for love.

You’ll never find someone who always excites you. The earliest stages of a relationship can be very exciting, but that naturally settles down into a deeper love. However, the basic elements that attract you to someone are lifelong when you choose well.

Excitement isn’t the goal – being fully alive is, and we are responsible for our own sense of aliveness on a personal level. Seeking aliveness through a relationship is a mistake – the other person will eventually disappoint in some way. Bringing aliveness to a relationship is the way to go; then, seeking someone else who brings genuine aliveness to the relationship as well.


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