If you are always trying to change the bad habits of the person you are dating, maybe it’s time to move on to someone else.
A woman came for therapy because she had just learned that her boyfriend of several months was still involved with his old girlfriend.
When I asked what she wanted from therapy, she said, “I want the guy to give up his girlfriend and commit to me.”
Since I wasn’t sure if her goal was in her best interest, I asked if she would tell me more about this man as well as her dating history with other men.
I learned she had been married twice. Her first husband left her for another woman, and she left her second husband because he was an alcoholic. She then had a long-term relationship with a man who was always on the verge of bankruptcy.
“I got fed up with paying all the bills,” she said, “so one day I kicked him out.”
After talking with her about her past relationships, I said my best advice was for her to explore why she kept getting involved with men who left her, either emotionally or physically. I also thought another goal of therapy should be that she would come to like and respect herself enough to move away from any relationship that spelled trouble.
Her situation reminded me of a woman I had seen several months previously. She had come to therapy because she wanted to straighten out a man she had recently met. He had stood her up for their first date and was a half hour late for the second date.
Her goal was to teach him to be more responsible. Here, too, my advice was to drop the guy, spend her energies learning to like herself more, and look for a healthier relationship with someone who didn’t discount her.
Certainly when you’re looking for a mate and find someone that you’re attracted to, it’s tempting to ignore the obvious. But pursuing a relationship that is probably bound for disaster is not in your best interest. Here are some danger signs to watch for:
• He’s heavily in debt.
• He can’t hold a job.
• She drinks too much.
• She has no friends.
• He’s rude to the waitress, the car mechanic, the store clerk.
• He’s always finding fault with others or with you.
• He flirts with other women which drives you crazy.
• She’s possessive, wants all of your time, and tries to exclude your friends and family.
• She lies.
• He has a bad temper.
• He’s a sports addict and you hate sports.
• He’s Mr. Frugal and you like to spend.
• You want children and he wants no part of them.
• She has a child by a previous marriage and you dislike this child.
• He’s a slob and you’re a neat nick.
Do yourself a favor. If you’re dating someone and there are signs that you’re headed for difficulties, move on. Don’t get hung up with trying to change the person.
Remember that no matter how eager you are to find a fulfilling relationship, “the light you see at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming train.”
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,” and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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