Consider this saying: “You date what you create.”
By virtue of habit, it's easy to forget who you are dating. So many of us are used to creating a construct of who we want a person to be, that we sometimes forget who that person actually is.
When you glorify the person you're dating through a lens of their potential rather than their actions, you will find yourself lonely and emotionally unfulfilled. Not surprisingly, this outcome can also be expected in situations where you put more emphasis on the physical connection rather than the emotional. For example, some people think if there's a physical attraction, it might eventually turn into a relationship, ie, friends with benefits. Others think that if there is a strong rapport, it might eventually turn into sex, ie, the friend zone.
Nevertheless, countless people fall prey to this trap. They date someone or aspire to date someone until one day, they eventually come to the realization that the object of their affection is — gasp — not the right person. Even when all of the signs point to EXIT, people become crippled by indecision and find themselves in a situation that they don't know how they got into, or one that they don't know how to get out of.
To be clear, no relationship is perfect, but finding the right relationship — or getting out of the wrong relationship — starts with being honest with yourself. If your relationship isn't fulfilling, you have to figure out why. Is it yourself? Is it your partner? When certain feelings or situations become a pattern rather than an isolated incident, then you should re-examine the relationship and what you're looking for out of it.
Case in point, whenever one of my girlfriends or female clients is constantly complaining to me about their boyfriend or current love interest, I ask a question that leaves them like a deer in headlights:
“What is it that you like about him?”
After a pregnant pause, the answer sadly goes something like this:
“I don't know. He has his shit together. He's self sufficient. He's tall and good-looking. He likes his family. He's comfortable. He says some pretty funny stuff.”
While some of you may find nothing wrong with such an answer, it's more than obvious to me what the problem is. In fact, it's blinding.
When a person solely focuses on résumé characteristics or the physical qualities of a person — how someone looks, what kind of job they have, how tall they are, how successful they are, etc — they're neglecting a very important thing and perhaps the most important: the emotional connection.
We are so used to focusing on the someone in a relationship that we often misinterpret the relationship in someone. That is to say, many times we let the physical connection distort the emotional. In reality, the criteria we should be focusing on are these:
• Do I feel “safe” opening myself up emotionally to this person? • Do I really understand this person? • Do they understand me? • Do they have my best interest at heart? • Do they make me a priority? • Do they meet my emotional needs?
In other words, stop focusing on the person in the relationship and start focusing on how the relationship makes you feel.
Sometimes we get confused and think that strong emotions must mean an emotional connection, when really, it is just an emotional attachment or desire. A true emotional connection is reciprocal and can endure the test of time. And while a physical connection is important, an emotional connection is vital.
Don't believe me? Think about someone you had amazing chemistry with. OK, where are they now? Chances are they're not your current SO. More often than not, a strong physical bond is something that is short-lived and unsustainable.
There is no doubt that physical attraction is essential in a relationship. After all, if you're not physically attracted to someone in the least, the likelihood of that manifesting into something significant is unlikely. However, as humans, we are pretty shallow people. We prioritize looks over character and resumes over behavior. We rarely give a person a chance or let them into our cozy little worlds if they don't meet our exact prerequisites. We seem to forget that attraction can grow just as easily at it can die.
Unfortunately, this is one of those life lessons that can't be taught through an article or a book; it can only be learned firsthand.
So in your next relationship or might-be relationship, focus on how the other person makes you feel and how strong your emotional connection is rather than how hot they are or how good your physical chemistry is. Because remember: Looks fade, hairlines recede, wrinkles appear and gravity eventually wins.