DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.)
Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine
The signs of love problems with your honey were obvious from day one. But not only did you ignore them, you flung yourself into the romance without caution! Now you’re seriously considering whether to seal the deal. Earth to single person: You’re the one living with these problems. If you have to ask me whether to make your main squeeze permanent, run for the hills!
Sure, when cupid kicked you in the bow, you were under the influence of that love potion. Walk-into-walls lust can rattle even the sanest among us. But if it lasted forever, we’d never get anything done. By recognizing now that you swooned to the promise of love and ultimately scraped your heart, acknowledge that the experience gave you a tougher hide and the prescience to see you avoiding such situations well into the future.
You’re not alone. Everyone miscalculates love options from time to time, including the rich and famous. After 12 years of marriage, gorgeous supermodel and actress Christie Brinkley conceded that she really didn’t know the husband she was in the midst of divorcing. More recently, two not-so-rich and definitely not famous fiancées of murderers insisted to the media that they knew their men were really good guys — until the evidence became irrefutable. And a reader emailed me that after four years of marriage, without warning, his wife announced she could no longer be with him. This guy insisted his ex’s announcement was without warning. As my Gilda-Gram says, “No act of ‘un-love’ is random!” There are always reasons and there are always signs. And sometimes we intentionally miss the flashing neon without understanding why.
Because my own shortsightedness and rationalizations did me in, I devised this Gilda-Gram for love that appears to be in question: “When in doubt, do without.” So that’s my answer to anyone in this quandary. But if you’re still unsure about infinity with your sweetie, here’s an assignment for you: Recognize your patterns of denial. Sadly, most of us keep connecting with, and even re-marrying, the same personality types — until we can’t take it anymore.
At all costs to loneliness, here are three “love checks” to assist in making your decision. While these may sustain your single status for a time, they’ll also prevent you from making a painful error.
Love Check #1: Do you insist on only being with your “type?”
I was engaged to (and almost married) a man who had traits too similar to those of my former husband. Of course, since our love choices are unconscious, at first I had no idea what was driving me towards him. But over time, I began to note that the same disagreements I had experienced with the first man were frequently being repeated with the second. While my fiancé was pushing me to tie the knot, I fortunately recognized that I was actually enjoying the comfort of our arguments (hard to admit!) simply because they were familiar. It took courage and counseling — the same kind I give others today — for me to put the kibosh on my marriage plans. In the end, I realized that what I thought to be my “type” was exactly the “type” I needed to avoid!
This “type” thing tricks singles into relationships that sometimes even others don’t understand or like. I recently saw in the news that a successful model in an expensive apartment in New York City had the audacity to marry her porter-turned-doorman lover! She said it didn’t matter to her whether he was a porter or a lawyer; she did not go for a particular type. Unfortunately, her snotty neighbors didn’t see it that way. After he carried her over the threshold he once swept, he was fired from his doorman position and the neighbors have been trying to evict the newlyweds from their building. So much for other’s expectations of what YOUR type should be, right?
Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure in relationships. Answer this before you venture into the land of the familiar: “Where has my type gotten me so far?” Was your response the one that you expected?
Love Check #2: Do you squash your reluctance to ask questions?
A beautiful and successful 42-year-old client revealed that she speaks her mind to all her dates — as long as they’re not serious contenders. Once a guy strums her heartstrings, however, she goes mute. She has had many long-term romances, but none that lasted; no man ever got to know her. She sought my counsel to understand why she was still single.
It’s never the wrong time to discover whether your honey really knows you. While you may think it’s solely about love, a relationship is really your opportunity for self-growth. Observe what your sweetheart tells you. As this Gilda-Gram says, “There are no slips of the tongue; what you hear is what you need to know.” As you avoid making the same love mistakes, you will open space up for better long-term romantic prospects.
Love Check #3: Do you trumpet your personal strengths?
Harvard University found that independent teen girls transform into wimps as soon as boys enter their lives. But women usually don’t acknowledge that they give up anything to be with their guy. On the other hand, single men tend to tease their buddies who get involved in relationships by saying things like, “You’re whipped!”
For a year, I saw Clara at my gym each morning where she made her workouts her priority. Then she vanished. One day, I bumped into her on the street. When I asked where she had been, her response was, “Oh, I became involved with someone.” I said, “So?” I couldn’t believe that having a boyfriend was the real reason Clara let her workouts slide. As my Gilda-Gram warns, “The moment you morph your interests into your honey’s, that’s the moment your honey will lose interest in you.”
You are right to think hard about cementing that bond. If you are currently having issues, how will you cope when problems appear without invitation? Shape your present now so your future will naturally take care of itself.
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at http://www.DrGilda.com is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on MSN.com. Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” (http://www.drgilda.com/products.php?p=books), 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!