Serial marriers and relationship repeaters often get caught in the numbers game as they attempt to rationalize their many failed relationships to family, friends, strangers and, yes…even to themselves. Most of them are simply trying to find the “right” partner with whom they can share their life’s journey. However, these well-intentioned individuals often end up simply trading one set of problems for a brand new set each time they switch partners. Eventually, they get stuck in the old relationship turnstile and can’t seem to find their way out. What they really desire is a partnership that will lead to a permanent state of stability or, better yet, bliss.
Metaphorically speaking, although the grass always looks greener when you are moving from one relationship to the next, we rarely notice the weeds hiding just under the surface.Although a relationship may seemingly get off to a smooth start, it’s inevitable that at some point reality will fall short of expectations, misunderstandings will arise, boredom will set in, and the future just will not seem all that bright any more. That’s when the “split end” occurs…with each partner going his or her separate way. Sometimes rather quickly, one or both partners are on the hunt again for that next “soulmate,” to be able to start the familiar (and comfortable) relationship cycle all over again.
I understand the relationship repeater cycle well, as I was involved in it for many years. It seemed I was always starting over…with a new partner, sometimes a new address, a new home, a new lifestyle, a new roster of family and friends. It seemed that the only constant in my life was my job!
I want to make it clear that my intentions were good for each relationship endeavor. I truly wanted to be in a permanent relationship that was fun, fulfilling and, most of all, loving. Why shouldn’t I have all that to accompany the other aspects of my life that were actually working? I thought I deserved it. I’d worked hard to develop a great career and had a loving family and loyal friends. So I wasn’t missing much. I just needed a partner to complete the whole picture and provide the life security I so desired and expected. If one looked under the microscope, however, my disappointment was obvious. In my mind, I was incomplete and didn’t have a life at all without a partner. To put it bluntly, I was literally the fool who kept rushing into a brand-new romantic situation within a matter of months after another one had ended…with no grace period, no grieving time, primarily to validate my desirability and stop the pervasive loneliness from taking over.
I recall my now-deceased Dad telling me that any fool could start a romantic relationship, but it took a real genius to end one successfully. Well, I guess I was in the genius category because I sure knew how to end relationships when they didn’t work any longer. Dad never told me how to keep a relationship going permanently, however, which was the advice I truly wish I had received.
One day, I decided to quit running from myself and my partners, and take a deep, long look into why I was having so much trouble in the relationship department. Known as a problem-solver throughout my career, I needed to know what I was doing wrong in my personal life so I could fix it. I started doing the self-examination and found that, in order to break the relationship repeater pattern, I would have to take three major steps that could lead to positive change:
Step 1: I did an honest self-assessment about my role in each past relationship and acknowledged my responsibility for those actions and behaviors. I vowed to learn the valuable lessons from my poor judgment.
Step 2: I took the time to envision the kind of life that would bring happiness and joy to me going forward, with or without a partner.
Step 3: I decided to strategize my life by setting realistic goals and developed an action plan that could help me reach my potential, again with or without a partner.
During this relationship review exercise (which was painful at times, looking in the rearview mirror), I realized, like so many others who are struggling to find that “soulmate,” that I was impatiently entering into relationships from a position of need, and not from a place of self-confidence, determination, and personal power. On different occasions, it was fear that would propel me into situations with partners I had not vetted thoroughly. Needless to say, I should have vetted ME first!
I came to the conclusion that it was up to me to make myself happy and fulfill my basic needs. I could not put that responsibility on a partner. It wasn’t fair to him, or to me. And, I concluded that I must make time to observe my potential partner in a variety of situations, in order to assess his match-fitness.
So, ask yourself, am I seeking a partner who can provide:
· Emotional security
· Financial stability
· Social status
If the answer is “yes”, you should re-think your motivation. Will pursuing a relationship from a position of perceived emotional, financial, or social lack put you on a level playing field with your potential partner? Most likely, not.
Also, ask yourself, do I have a fear of:
· Feeling empty and being alone
· Missing an opportunity if I don’t act fast enough to find a partner
· Not meeting family and friends’ expectations about my being in a relationship
If that answer is “yes,” you may need to put on the brakes and have the patience to analyze yourself before you continue down the road to being coupled. That way, you can become better prepared to find a partner who shares your values and goals and with whom you can have a healthy, balanced relationship from the outset.
Take it from me. I was that fool who rushed in way too many times. I ended up playing the numbers game, always trying to explain why I had so many broken relationships in my past and attempting to leave a few out, so I wouldn’t appear so flaky to others. But the good news is, after I did my own self-assessment and took the three steps toward breaking my old behavioral patterns, I finally found a partner who was even better suited for me than a “soulmate.” He’s what I refer to as my “twin flame,” as we have a special purpose together which makes us stronger as individuals and more bonded as a couple. We’ve known one another 14 years, and are coming up on our 6th wedding anniversary. Somehow, I just know we’ll get past that much-talked-about 7-year itch, too.