Debbie is a young divorced mother of two children. She is in her late twenties, considered quite attractive and has a fairly good background of values and education. She grew up with an upper middle class background, having strict parents with high expectations of their children. Now single for over five years, Debbie has drifted through relationships ranging from casual encounters to living together arrangements. Although Debbie has no problems in getting attention from men, she does experience frustration with the type of man she attracts. Although each person looks different, the personality and interactions are basically the same, resulting in Debbie repeating her patterns of forming destructive relationships. Her past history has indicated the men she chose had no real interest in her, no concern for her needs or feelings and preoccupied with their own selfish gratification. On the surface, the men seemed charming, exciting and fun to be with. Debbie kept questioning her self worth because she wound up with a person who mistreated her in each relationship she formed.
Brad is a young man in his twenties who is single and never been married. He is an introverted passive-aggressive type of person who has difficulty in expressing his feelings. Although Brad is a "nice guy" he has some deep insecurities that contribute to contact with people. His relationships with women suffer because Brad is unable to express his needs and desires and like most shy people, focuses on his own internal problems rather than listening to what others have to say. Out of the very few platonic relationships with women that Brad has been able to form, none have progressed to any deep meaning. Because Brad's desire to have a romantic and sexual relationship has been unfulfilled, he questions his ability to be lovable, deserving and worthwhile, and like Debbie, seeks out love in the wrong ways and pursues it in the wrong places.
A lot of single people complain about the lack of romance and their failure to find a suitable partner. They reiterate their frustration about the deficiency of quality and availability of desirable people to meet. Instead of finding that "perfect" partner, many people reject prospective candidates because these suitors don't fit their type - their image of the ideal. It is no surprise that many single people subscribe to the myth that there is a "Mr. or Ms. Right" out there, somewhere who will be perfectly compatible with their lifestyle, interests and desires. Such thinking only serves to extrapolate distorted perceptions of what one should really look for and only results in depriving one of otherwise rich learning experiences. One only needs to examine the high divorce rate, uprooting of families and sifting of broken relationships to realize that a lot of people have bought into that childhood concept of a "Prince Charming" or "Princess Cinderella" who is the right person to make us happy, sweep us off our feet and live happily ever after.
Instead of taking time to learn about their relationship patterns, many single people just set out to find another right person who will fit their list of requirements and fit their "type". What is most likely to happen is these people will find a person similar to the last who fits into their pattern of relating. Freud called this method of repeating the same mistakes repetition compulsion. Simply stated, unless we do something to change our old learned methods of relating and seeking out partners, we are doomed to repeat the past over and over again.
Most of the ways we relate to other people are learned from early childhood and we pick up many of the social skills from our parents, who are our role models. If our parents related well to themselves and others and gave us plenty of love and approval, we then, most likely will be able to seek out healthy relationships. However, if we were lacking love and attention from our parents, one and/or the other, we will probably seek out that lost approval by looking for a partner to fulfill our emptiness. Some single people look for qualities that they lack and they have the mistaken belief that if they only find someone who possesses these missing traits, everything will be all right and both parties can unite for a whole complete relationship. Research has indicated through studies and evaluations that nothing is further from the truth and it is a deception to view dating and romance with this delusion.
The first step toward getting a better understanding about love and romance would be to become the right person rather than looking for the right mate. Although opinion is mixed as to whether opposites attract, studies have shown that most people feel comfortable with people who have similar interests, values and backgrounds. A good exercise to do in searching for a partner would be to list all of the qualities that you regard as important and adapt these qualities into your own lifestyle and watch who you attract! Such effort requires a conscious awareness of your own behavior and the behavior of others. Many people are waiting for love to find its way toward them rather than realizing that they are responsible for the way their lives are and can take charge to make love happen for them.
People only change when they have to. They do what works for them and continue with the learned patterns of relating. If you can accept this statement and become aware of a candidate's style of relating, you will be in a position to determine the outcome of a relationship and be in a better position to choose whether this person is a good consideration or not. With very few exceptions, what you see is what you get! More people are in destructive relationships because they fail to take responsibility for their lives and instead, remain hopelessly trapped in despair! Most relationships don't happen by accident; the parties are attracted to each other by unfinished business or unconscious wishes and these unhealthy patterns can only be changed through conscious effort.
Today more people are single by choice. There are more methods of meeting available than were previously available. Many businesses have been formed for the express purpose of introducing single people. Video dating, computer matching, radio call in shows and even personal ads (and now the internet, which came about after this article was written) are modern ways to bring people together. The thing singles have to realize is that there is nothing wrong in either pursuing these methods or in the people who are already members. People who do decide to try any or all of these introduction methods will be in a better position to avoid frustration and disappointment if they will view the candidates as just other normal people who, like every other single person, are just looking for someone to love and be loved. Many people carry their neurotic beliefs of looking for that "right" one, only to complain "there's no one there". Stop trying to look for perfection; remember you get strong and weak traits - good and bad habits with anyone! Stop focusing for that "Mr. or Ms. Right" and instead, concentrate on "how" someone treats YOU! After all, what good is a "perfect ten" if that person treats you bad or makes you feel unhappy, or abuses you, verbally or physically.
One thing; it makes no difference how or where you look for a partner if your head is not on straight. If you have had destructive relationships in the past, you can choose now to have better options for the future! Take responsibility for the past! Realize that it's YOUR fault for the role you played in your past. Then, make efforts to be aware of those old patterns and keep a sharp eye out for them in your future encounters! Contrary to what you might hear, there is still plenty of opportunity for rich, rewarding relationships. All it takes is some conscious effort of your part!
Abner Cook is a former Video Introductions' member. He is now in a caring and committed marriage.
FOR FURTHER READING...
"How to Stop Looking for Someone Perfect and Find Someone to Love"
by Judith Sills, Ph.D.
"Taking a Chance on Love"
by Emily Marlin
"How to Live With Another Person"
by David Viscott, M.D.
by David Gibbins, Ph.D.
"Putting It Altogether"
by Irene C. Kassorla, Ph.D.