Most of my blogs are directed at women who are in a relationship and are trying to make it better. For a change of pace, I thought I’d address those women who are looking for a new relationship. How can you avoid the mistakes of past relationships? How can you maintain your sense of yourself within a new relationship? What do men really want in a partner, anyways? It’s a lot to cover in one blog, but I’ll give you the big picture answers.
1. To avoid the mistakes of past relationships, you need to get clear on the patterns and the lessons they brought you. To help you get clear, try this exercise. Take a piece of paper, and across the top write the names of the last three men with whom you’ve had significant romantic relationships. Underneath their name, write a list of the reasons you were attracted to them when you first met. Underneath that list, write a list of the reasons why the relationship ended. (this exercise is adapted from Hindsight by Maryanne Comaroto) Look for similarities in the relationships to find clues about your romantic patterns. Are you attracted to successful, flashy men who treat you with disrespect? Maybe you’re attracted to nice guys who end up boring you to tears. Whatever it is, see if you can figure out your romantic pattern. Once you see the pattern, you can figure out the lesson. The lesson is typically found when you say, “I’ll never let that happen to me again.” Whatever “that” is for you is your lesson. If you haven’t had that epiphany yet, ask yourself this: “what do I feel when I’m first with a new partner? How can I give that same feeling to myself?”
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2. Most relationships fail, or at least flounder into tedium, because the partners lose their sense of identity outside the relationship. Women identify with who they are as a lover, wife, and mother and forget who they are as an individual. To avoid this in your next relationship, be sure to maintain excellent contact with your friends, and encourage your man to do the same. Spend time with your friends at least once a week. When you meet his friends, look for common ground so that you’ll feel comfortable encouraging him to hang out with them. Introduce him to your friends to lessen the “either/or” dynamic that tends to happen with new romance. And be sure to make time each week for your favorite activity, even if he doesn’t share your enthusiasm. It’s absolutely fine for you to have separate interests; in fact, it’s very healthy.
3. Laugh together. Laughter is one of the very best indicators of relationship health and longevity. Don’t be afraid to poke gentle fun at your man, and learn how to take a joke at your expense occasionally. Humor, when done right, bolsters people up. It doesn’t hurt or cut people down, so when you make fun of something, make fun of a situation rather than a character flaw.
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