If you can’t be sure of a good apple…

(I’m enjoying these “classic posts.”  This one was from 2008)


Maybe you can at least avoid some of the rotten ones.

More specifically in terms of relationships, we may not be able to come up with a way to ensure success. But we can probably look at some things that raise the chances of success–or pretty much guarantee failure. Each of the following has doomed at least two relationships I know of:

1) Track record. If you have to ignore the person’s track record with relationships… watch out. If they’ve left a trail of angry partners, willing to lie about abuse, drugs, infidelity, etc: you have to ask why they’re so angry, or why your potential mate has such terrible taste in partners. And… what if it’s true?

2) Lack of track record. What if you can’t find out anything about previous partners? There is no discernible dating or mating history? Based upon the instances I’ve seen, be VERY careful. Can you speak with his/her friends about previous relationships? Their family? If not, if there is no one you can trust to give you a sense of why their past relationships went wrong, keep your guard up. Example: when I met Tananarive, I wanted her to have every chance in the world to know if I was good for her. The first chance I got, I put her in a room with my ex-wife Toni, and daughter Nicki, told them to talk about whatever they wanted, and left the room. She deserved to know if I’ve left a trail of destruction behind me, didn’t she?

3) Dishonesty. There is a gap between what they say and what they do. 90% of your opinion of someone should be based on what they do–or have done. In comparison, what they say is irrelevant. Do people deserve a second or third chance? Sure, but you have no obligation to be the one who risks your heart, home, finances and family to give it to them.

4) A serious mis-match in values and life goals. They need to be either similar or complementary.

5) Sexual heat is a very nice thing. If your partner doesn’t groove to you, and vice versa, don’t think it’s gonna get better.

6) Financial security and calm. I hate to say this, but finances screw up more relationships than infidelity. If you can’t save and balance your checkbook, if you’re still living with your parents or working a job you hate, don’t be surprised if others can pick up on this subliminally, and you find yourself unable to attract an appropriate partner.

7) Someone who does not like/love themselves. Danger, Will Robinson. Someone afflicted with self-loathing CANNOT be loved enough to “fix” them. They do not see the divinity within themselves, cannot make contact with the loving child within them… were not loved without reservation by their parents… this person has work to do. Unless you want your bedroom to turn into a battleground, stay away.

8) Someone who expects you to follow their commands. Unless you like being dominated, stay away.  (UPDATE NOTE: I recently heard a story about a Silicon Valley billionaire.  On his wedding day, at their “first dance”, he whispered in his beautiful executive wife’s ear:  “I’m the Alpha in this relationship.”   How long do YOU think that marriage lasted?)

9) Someone who expects you to read their minds. Often with the b.s. “I know what you’re thinking/want/need. Why don’t you know what I’m thinking/want/need?” Utterly infantile, but we all do it a little bit, and some of us do it a LOT. Buy into this crap, and you’re sunk, locked in a can’t-win position with someone who has never gotten over the fact that, once upon a time, all needs were eat/sleep/change me/love me. When they grow up, they might be fine. Until then, beware.

10) Someone at a very different level of energy. This might be intellectual, physical, spiritual–whatever. “Energy” here is a deliberately vague term. You should feel either matched or complemented by their strengths and weaknesses.

11) You can’t be in a relationship with someone crazier than you. If crazy people keep falling into your life, YOU are the one who needs help. Something is very wrong, and you may have a blind spot large enough to swallow your entire life.

12) Don’t expect people to change. You can’t fix people. If they have taken responsibility for changing, you can support them (there was a GREAT scene at the end of the second episode of the second season of Dexter that deals with this. I LOVE that show!)

13) Don’t expect people not to change, either. Human beings are dynamic not static. Note the direction of their growth or decay. Does it match their stated values, beliefs, and goals? If so you can be pretty sure they’ll continue on that path… but there will be change. We grow, we are wounded, we learn, we advance, we decay.

14) Know yourself first. If you’ve had a bad relationship history, take a year off and journal every day. Watch relationships around you. Specifically seek out people who have been happily married for ten years or more. I PROMISE that they did different things than you. Find multiples of them. Interview them about their relationship attitudes. Overlap the resulting data: where do they agree? Disagree? How does this agree or conflict with what you have done? Assume that your external relationships mirror your internal aspect. What would this say about you if this were true? The conclusion may not be “true” but it is likely to be embarrassingly fascinating. At the least, it points out potential directions for growth. And frankly? I’d rather assume it was true and do the work… and have it turn out that the work wasn’t needed… than ignore the evidence, assume it was “those women” (or “those men”)… and years down the road, after myriad heartbreaks, finally realize it was me, after all.

That all I ever had to do to find happiness was take responsibility for being an asshole…and change. I sometimes suspect that such insights come to too many of us only after we’re run out of places to hide from ourselves. For too many I suspect that doesn’t happen until we are old and broken. And God, that would suck.

-Steve Barnes

(Go to WWW.SOULMATEPROCESS.COM for your free copy of TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FINDING YOUR SOULMATE.  Do it today, please.  The heart you save may be your own.)


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