You know the feeling when you break up with someone and think to yourself… I knew from the start this wouldn’t work. It’s that doubt and regret that you didn’t listen to your instincts sooner. You dated the wrong person. Well, as the saying goes…hindsight is 20/20.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just know upfront if this person was the right one for you, before you invested your heart into the relationship? The reality is, we don’t always know. Sometimes people and circumstances change and we find out the person we fell in love with is not the person in front of us now. But, in most cases, there should be some ways to pay attention ahead of time and have a solid idea if you’re dating the wrong person. The question is, how do you know?
Don’t let the high of love fool you.
Falling in love is a high like none other. Our brains secrete powerful chemicals that are meant to help us find a mate. These chemicals, like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins are what give us the positive feelings we associate with falling in love. These chemicals have a strong influence on how we choose and stay with a partner. When we are around someone we’re attracted to, we can feel physical symptoms like a flushed face, racing heart, and an overall warm feeling. We literally feel the “chemistry.”
This high is what keeps our species going…it works to help us connect to another human being. It’s a good thing! However, this rush can be deceiving if we get lost in it, and overlook red flags because we are too hooked on the good feelings this new person creates in us. Because of this, it’s important to have a few sober reminders that you are aware of prior to getting high on love, so that you be sure you’re able to see clearly when the rush hits.
Know YOUR red flags.
What have you learned from past relationships that you know you need to avoid this time around? What’s important to you in a partner? Maybe you’ve learned that you must have a partner who allows you to keep your independence, or you need someone who is highly affectionate and attentive. Maybe it is someone who is willing to explore a spiritual path with you, so dating a devout atheist wouldn’t be a good mix. Maybe you need someone who values sobriety. Know yourself well…and trust that it is ok to have expectations, rules, and boundaries in a relationship.
Of course, there are some basic qualities that everyone should steer clear of in a new partner. Being overly jealous, controlling, or possessive are never good signs. Maybe it’s someone who can’t maintain a job or is unable to manage their financial life over time, someone with a significant criminal background—especially domestic violence or crimes that involve hurting others—untreated addiction, no relationships with friends or family, or someone with a victim mentality. Many of these qualities spell trouble and can be indicators of deeper mental health issues in a person. They are all good reasons to steer clear.
Your body holds the truth.
If you’re confused about whether a partner is good for you or not, trust that your body knows the truth. A great technique to access your truth is to simply ask yourself the question and feel how your body feels with the answer. Tension and anxiety can reflect an intuitive “no.” Happiness and lightness might tell you “yes.” There may be other physical sensations you may feel that can help steer you to your answers about a partner.
Checking in with your body on a regular basis can help you learn the difference between the feeling of just having a desire for a relationship to be what you want it to be, and the reality of what it is.
Trust that you always know.
Simply listen, pay attention, and trust yourself. Most people can look back after a breakup and notice the red flags that were present from the beginning, but they were ignored because the rush of love was so strong that it was easy to overlook the reality of a situation. Know what you want in a partner and stay true to your goal. Remember that there is plenty of healthy love in the world for you if this one isn’t the One.