Kate Swanson writes about mental and physical well-being based on her personal experiences, as well as those of her family.
Why do I keep dating losers?
Why don't my relationships last?
Aren't there any good men left in the world?
Most single women have made comments like this at some time or another. So why is it so difficult?
I believe the problem is that we are all looking for the wrong thing.
We are all raised on a diet of TV soaps and fiction books. In those books, when a girl meets her Mr Right, they fall in love hard and fast. So we look for the same. We think we will feel some kind of instant attraction when we meet our perfect match. So if we don't feel that chemistry when we first meet someone, we dismiss them as a potential partner. How often have you said, "He was nice but there was no spark"?
That "spark" is caused by pheromones - in other words, it is purely physical, even though the reaction it generates is intensely emotional.
Of course, it's important to be sexually attracted to your partner - but it's rare for it to be the primary factor in keeping a couple together. Especially if you are hoping to stay together in your old age, when desire will wane. In fact it's not uncommon to find couples who fancy the pants off each other, but simply can't live together!
A much bigger problem is that the feeling of being "madly in love" has a serious effect on judgment. It makes both partners blind to all kinds of differences in lifestyle or annoying habits. Women, in particular, will often make huge sacrifices in lifestyle or career to make the relationship work - and often, the man has no idea just how big those sacrifices are. This "honeymoon" period can last up to two years. So it is surprisingly easy for two completely incompatible people to forge a relationship, even to the point of getting married and having a first child, before the blinkers start to fall from their eyes and they realise just how mismatched they are.
Once that "honeymoon" is over, one or both sides may start missing aspects of their old life that they gave up. Once again, it's often the woman who wakes up to the fact that she's given up a career she enjoys, or friends she loves - and because her man doesn't realise how much these things mattered to her, he will appear to be uncaring. Result - breakup!
Alternatively, one partner will realise that they're stuck with the other person's annoying habits/opinions for the rest of their life. Without a good dose of starry-eyed happiness to compensate, that is simply not bearable.
So, if you are looking for a relationship that will last for the long haul, the first rule is:
COMPATIBILITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHEMISTRY
Of course you want chemistry too, but what our romantic fiction forgets is that just because sparks don't fly the minute you meet someone, you can't assume they never will. It is very possible for love to develop gradually, and when it does, it can often be deeper and more long-lasting.
That has certainly been my experience. My first marriage started from a friendship which blossomed into love. That lasted over 15 years, which is pretty good by today's standards! By contrast, my subsequent relationships based on "POW!", were much rockier and more difficult to sustain. I'm now in another "friend-to-lover" relationship which is both wonderfully exciting and amazingly smooth sailing.
Of course, it's hard for us to shed the expectations that have been drilled into us over the years. And I can hear you saying, does that mean I have to make a lot of friends of the opposite sex, and hope that one of them will turn into my perfect match? Hardly practical. That's why I am a fan of online dating, because that way you can screen large numbers of potential mates for compatibility BEFORE you meet them.
That way, if you walk into the cafe, spot your guy (from the red carnation he's wearing in his lapel), meet his eyes and - POW! - at least you can have confidence that you'll have something in common when the fairy dust wears off.
Deborah Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on August 08, 2016:
This is an interesting article. Thanks for writing. Fortunately for me, I have met and married the love of my life. We started out as just friends, and the love grew over the course of our friendship. I am a lucky girl.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on August 08, 2016:
Yes, you're so right about the bad boy phase - and some women never do grow out of it!
dashingscorpio from Chicago on August 07, 2016:
Each of us (chooses our own) friends, lovers, and spouse.
If you go to the store to purchase an apple but buy an onion instead whose fault is that? Do you curse the onion for not being an apple? No!
You learn to become a "better shopper"!
If you want something different (you) have to do something different!
The goal is find someone who shares your same values, wants the same things for the relationship that you do, naturally agrees with you on how to obtain those things, and last but not least there is a mutual depth of love and desire for one another. Compatibility trumps compromise!
There is no amount of "work" or "communication" that can overcome being with someone who simply does NOT want what you want.
Like attracts like and opposites attract divorce attorneys!
The problem with a lot of people is they never took the time to do some serious introspective thinking to figure out who (they are) let alone what traits they want and need in a mate. Instead they allow "impulsive connections" and "happenstance" to dictate their relationship choices.
That's the equivalent of going shopping without a list!
In fact as you noted romance novels and Hollywood movies encourage us all to "follow our hearts" as opposed to using intelligence.
Never separate your mind from your heart when making relationship decisions. The purpose of the mind is to protect the heart!
Know yourself, Love yourself, Trust yourself.
If something doesn't (feel right to you) it's probably not right for you!
There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships: We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them (as is) or move on.
Each of us determines our own "deal breakers".
Having said that there are many women who go through a "bad boy" phase particularly during their youth. Such women's motto is:
"We ignore those who adore us and adore those who ignore us."
You could stick this type of woman in a room with five men and have four them drop to their knees extending her their heart while the "5th" guy sits in a corner sipping on a cocktail acting as if she doesn't exist.
That will be the guy she wants to get to know!
He's seen as a "mystery", "challenge", he'll make her (earn) his attention and affections, if she learns other women want him she'll rise to the challenge to "win" him over them. Love that comes easy isn't worth it to these women and many of them are bored without having some drama.
Essentially some women really are attracted to jerks!
It's only after several experiences of having their heart broken or being used/taken advantage of that they become willing to "explore" a different "type" of guy. A bestselling book was written not long ago:
"Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough" by Lori Gottlieb. She espouses women to forget about the guy who makes their heart "skip a beat" and look for a "nice guy" who treats them special. Someone who is loyal, dependable, trustworthy, reliable, and endearing.
Don't pay too much attention to (physical appearance or chemistry).
I can't imagine a book like that written for men being a bestseller! :)
Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on August 07, 2016:
Very interesting topic. But, I have no idea of all these things. I loved my wife only after marriage. And, in spite of many differences and hardships, we managed it lifelong for 38 years till her death. And even now, I keep loving her till my death. That's all I know. But, my sons are unmarried even after crossing the age of 35 excusing something or other.