I know you've heard, "It's not you, it's... me."
And I know you believed it.
But if you've heard that line way more than you've ever heard, "I'm crazy in love with you," it's time to start wondering if perhaps it could very well be you. Because, let's face it, the common denominator in all your failed relationships is... well... you!
I'm not saying that you are fully to blame for the end of every relationship. I am, however, saying that you are fully responsible for the fact that the relationship began in the first place. You either chose to go after the guy or allowed yourself to be caught by him. Now, I'm the first to agree that there are some guys who are so slick in their presentations that they can fool you some of the time, but when you find you're getting fooled most of the time, you ought to take a look at that fabulous female in the mirror and ask, "What, already?"
And then, resolve to do something about it.
The first step? Figure out what your dating style is. The only way you're going to stop attracting the wrong types—and get the right ones to stick around—is by recognizing and rejecting some of the bad dating behaviors you've picked up over the years. Here are what I call the top ten most-bound-to-be-broken-up-with behavior types:
Danny was amazing. Tall, dark hair and skin, electric blue eyes. I couldn't believe it when he left his group of friends at the car show to talk to me.
As we spoke, he asked if I wanted a soda, and not only brought me one but also popped it open and stuck the straw in for me. He asked a lot of questions about me and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I gave him my number, and he called me that night.
We went out a few times—in my car, because he said he was loaning his to his mom until she got hers fixed. I was thrilled about how thoughtful he was. I decided I wanted to surprise him one night with a picnic basket for two, which is when I realized that since I always picked him up at work, I didn't actually know where he lived. I took a quick peek into his wallet when he was pumping my gas, looking for his license so that I could write down the address, and came across some pictures of him posing with a bride . . . and then with kids. When he got back in the car, I asked him about them.
He sighed and said, "Well, I guess I should tell you that I'm married. But I'm not happy, and I only stick around for the kids, you know? I date all the time."
Figures. Mr. Considerate turned out to be Mr. Dad—taking care of the needs of others was second nature!
I was furious, and told him so. I stormed out of the car. He called after me, and I turned around, opting to make a scene. "Screw you. I never want to see you again!" Everyone who was pumping gas or exiting the 7-Eleven watched. I turned to make my dramatic exit when he yelled,
"Hey! Where are you going? This is your car!"
+ The Time Bomb: Your biological clock is ticking so loudly, you view every first date as a potential rehearsal dinner. You demand to know where the relationship is headed so early and often that he's headed out the door.
+ The Shadow: You may be an independent spirit around your friends, but once you get with a guy, you lose yourself in him. You take on his hobbies; give up everything that's yours to blend in with his life; never express your own point of view, thinking that agreeing with him 100 percent will please him. Disappearing into your guy, however, does not stop him from doing his own disappearing act.
+ The Drama Queen: You figure that anything worth having has to be fought for. You shop at Bad Boys R Us, and your favorite way to kiss is during make-up make-outs. You're so busy catching him in lies and trying to be the woman who is woman enough to change him, you haven't even noticed that you are the only one calling.
+ The Diva: Your standards leave most men in the "not worthy" category. Many men will try, but only a loser would stick around to be treated like a loser. Inevitably, you end up Queen of Queens (my preferred terminology over "Fag Hag"), because only gay men can tolerate your fabulousness.
+ The First Sighter: If you aren't feeling a flash of love and lust within the first moments you set eyes on each other, you don't pursue him any further. Most men will not tread past the "I'm just not attracted to you that way" signs you post immediately.
+ The Rescuer: Like the Statue of Liberty, your arms are open to accept the tired, the poor, the downtrodden, and the hungry. Artists and musicians, damaged men who cry . . . you're pretty sure that by being everything to these men, you'll get to heal and keep one. Yet time and time again, they steal your heart, your energy— maybe even your grocery money—and move on.
+ The Other Half: Your motto: Any relationship is better than none. You hop from relationship to relationship, never feeling like a whole person on your own, always ready to go steady, even if it means lowering your standards (causing even your closest friends to wonder, "What was she thinking?"). It usually takes guys a few months to figure out that the reason they're not comfortable with you is because you're not either.
+ The People Pleaser: The man you date is essentially the man everyone else thinks is worthy. If your parents want him as a son, or if friends you're trying to impress say he's a great catch, then you push your own feelings out of the way. Eventually, he catches on and finds intimacy elsewhere.
+ The Money Honey: Love is grand, but several hundred grand is what makes your heart pump faster. You're willing to play by his rules and sell your soul if it means a lifetime of luxury. Unfortunately, being bought leaves you in the powerless position of being sold out once he sees a shinier, newer toy he wants to play with.
+ The Green Monster: Your mantra: Men Are Dogs. Your mission: to put a leash on your guy and only allow enough slack to keep an eye on him. Your motivation: You will not be the last to know when he cheats on you. Your man: He won't cheat because he's just loosened the noose and vamoosed!
RelationTip: It's hard to evaluate yourself in love. When you're ready to figure out your part in dating disasters, ask several trusted friends to give you their opinions about what they've witnessed in your past relationships.
Recognize yourself in one of these?
I'm betting you probably cross over into more than one type—I know that I have visited all but one category (you'll just have to guess which one!) during my dating years.
If you find that you do relate to some of these types, know that you're in good company, and these choices are not always your fault. Very often we choose to exhibit certain behaviors because:
+ We're carrying some big, heavy baggage from one or more previous relationships.
+ We model our own behavior on that of our parents (the first "love relationship" we ever witnessed), which, as the divorce rate indicates, was probably not so perfect.
+ We grew up watching soaps and, not knowing how else to act with a guy, adopted a favorite character to try out on boys. Some of us chose the long-suffering nice girl route, while others believed that every man wanted an Erica Kane type. (It didn't matter in the world of daytime television, where everyone had at least six gorgeous weddings!)
In the end, though, it doesn't matter why we're acting like bad daytime players—what matters is that we can recognize and change our dating styles.
First, by sending a wake-up call to each personality so that you can actually understand the error of those ways.
Second, by making a checklist of the dos and don'ts of choosing a person who won't drive you back into those bad behavioral patterns. After all, if you don't know what qualities are essential, then how can you not help but repeat history—and histrionics?