Q. Dear Rachel,
I’m reeling from a failed year-long relationship with a man who I thought was my ideal match. I was first drawn to him because we shared a common interest in spirituality, or so I thought. He talked the talk, but his actions never quite aligned with his words. Ultimately, I faced the sobering realization that I’d fallen in love with a man who was a fraud. Now I feel mislead by him as well as by myself. How could I have been mistaken into thinking that someone so wrong for me was right?
A. Dear Mislead,
Most likely, this man did not intentionally set out to mislead you; he just wasn’t your best match. Feeling angry and disappointed is part of the grieving process after a breakup, but just because your relationship ended does not mean that the compatibility you once felt with your ex was entirely false. The fact that the two of you were together for a year shows that you obviously had some percentage of compatibility as a couple, but perhaps you were only 30 percent compatible with this man instead of 85 percent. While that 30 percent might have looked great at first, it wasn’t enough to sustain the relationship for the long haul. There are many people in this world with whom you will have some percentage of compatibility, but if you’re looking for a lasting, satisfying relationship, you need a partner with whom you share a high percentage of compatibility.
During the early stages of dating, it’s natural for the positive, compatible traits that we share with a date to stand out more prominently than the negative traits. However, people do reveal who they are, for better and worse, from the beginning of a relationship so it’s crucial to give consideration to red flags as they pop up. When getting to know someone, take your time and remain cautiously optimistic to avoid getting attached to the wrong partner. Red flags can signal relationship time bombs, which are incompatible differences that will cause a relationship to end. So don’t just listen to a person’s words, but keep an eye out for inconsistencies between their words and behavior to gauge whether any contrary beliefs are tolerable or not.
People come as complete packages so you can’t pick and choose which of their qualities you wish to keep and which you wish to discard. Additionally, most people don’t change dramatically once they’ve reached adulthood, so never enter a relationship expecting a partner to change or you will be disappointed. Find someone you can accept completely or move on. They say hindsight is 20/20. The key to avoiding partners with a low percentage of compatibility is to use as much foresight as you can muster to spot relationship time bombs before they cause destruction.
Q. Dear Rachel,
Even if a guy asks a woman out, she still has little assurance that he wants to be with her. I am referring here to dater’s remorse, for lack of a better term. Even if the guy initiates a date, he will often reconsider but fail to speak up. He then becomes stuck in a relationship he doesn’t really want. He’ll even wonder to himself, “How in the world did I get into this mess?” Every guy has been there. These are unpleasant facts that you need to impress upon your female readers if they don’t want to live in delusion.
— Signed, Beware of Dater’s Remorse
A. Dear Beware of Dater’s Remorse,
I always say, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man.” This means you never want to try to fix, save or change another person at any point in a relationship. Helping someone into a relationship is just as destructive as sustaining a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to be there. Although less common, women can also experience dater’s remorse. So for all the men who give too much in their relationships I say, “Don’t Help A Woman Be A Woman.” This message is crucial for everyone who carries all the weight in their relationships, whether male or female. If you stopped single-handedly making the relationship work, would your partner pick up the slack or let the relationship fall by the wayside? Set a healthy boundary by only doing your fair share of work in a relationship to attract a give-and-take dynamic from either your current partner or a healthier mate in the future.
Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit: www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.