The difference between choosing and simply being the one chosen can make or break a relationship.
I’m not sure who first came up with the concept of being selected versus being selective when it comes to relationships, but my co-author (and former roommate), Natasha Burton, brought it to my attention a few years ago when I was going through I very rough patch in my dating career. Talk about an ah-ha moment of clarity. Seemingly simple, to me, the concept was profound.
Far from being selective, I have, for the most part, been selected by every boyfriend I’ve ever had (with the exception of my current beau). I became their girlfriend because they chose me. Sure, after a month or so of sleeping together, I’d fall madly in love––only to snap out of it around the fourth or fifth month and wake up to the in-your-face realization that I hardly even liked the person I was calling my boyfriend. How did I continuously wind up in relationships with men who were completely undeserving of everything I had to offer? Easy, I wasn’t being selective from the get go.
Selected (adjective): chosen in preference to another or others.
Selective (adjective): having the function or power of selecting; making a selection.
Power. Having the power to make a choice. In hindsight, I was giving my power away. I’ll never forget sitting in my therapist’s chair, post break-up with this terrible guy (I mean terrible), asking the question, “How did I end up here, again?” I felt stupid, which I knew I wasn’t. I felt embarrassed that, at 25, I still wasn’t capable of making healthy romantic decisions. But most off all, I felt angry. I felt gypped. Again, I had made the wrong decision in a boyfriend… except I couldn’t recall deciding at all.
That’s when my therapist brought something to my attention: Where was I when the relationship started? What sort of space was I in? These things I had never considered.
When I had met one particular boyfriend, I was incredibly insecure. My longtime best friend and travel buddy had just got engaged and I was lonely. I didn’t want to be living where I was, and I had no idea what sort of career path I wanted to follow. You might say I was desperate, though I didn’t recognize it at the time. Instead of truly considering if he was the right person for me, I was just happy to be in a relationship. He liked me, and that was enough. Sad, I know.
Luckily, I don’t stay in unhealthy relationships for extended periods of time, but that doesn’t help me when it comes to choosing what would be a healthy relationship. What helps, is learning to be selective. To take things a bit slower, and assess whether or not the guy is the best choice for me along the way. In a sense, to pay attention to the red flags before I throw all of my chips in.
For more relationships and dating advice, pick up your copy of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, available now wherever books are sold.