By Barton Goldsmith Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As therapist Barton Goldmsith points out, it takes a long time to truly get to know someone. People can keep their dating personalities on for months, even years, before the real person emerges. That's why he says it is so important to respect your gut feelings about anything that doesn't seem right.
Tribune News Service
When you are falling for someone, chemicals are racing through your brain, which can cause you to think that some things are real when they're not. You may ignore some very red flags. Funny thing about those flags: it may be hard to see them until after the relationship is over, when your friends point out all that they saw about your ex.
It's very easy to ignore bad signs when you are falling in love, but you need to pay attention. If your new romantic partner is a little too friendly with members of the opposite sex, that's a sign. If he or she can drink a bottle of wine without help (before dinner), that too is a warning sign. You may be able to cope with it at the start, but I promise that these bad behaviors will only get worse.
It takes a long time to truly get to know someone. People can keep their dating personalities on for months, even years, before the real person emerges. That's why it is so important to respect your gut feelings about anything that doesn't seem right. Your mind and heart may not want to see that this person has certain flaws that may end up making both your lives miserable.
It is always good to talk about these things, and going to couples counseling is great, but few of us think that way in the first few months of a relationship. When you are so full of that heady love feeling, bringing up negative behaviors can feel very uncomfortable. Most people just deal with the difficulty until it gets to be too much for them, and then they snap. If you've ever had a relationship end suddenly and you had no idea it was coming, this is most likely why.
Unfortunately, loving someone is not the same as being compatible or being able to live with someone. This is both very sad and very true. You have to hold to your boundaries and values because it is better to be alone than to be with someone who is going to make your life miserable. You can rationalize all you like, and you will, but if you know better, you can't stay for just the good things.
As hard as it is, you are better off (and so is your potentially soon-to-be ex) if you call out the bad behaviors and see how this person who claims to love you deals with it. Chances are things will change for a day or two, and then he or she will default to the old bad habits.
Someone who feels deeply enough for you will make the necessary changes. So whatever the problem, nip it in the bud if you can. A statement like "When you do these things, it makes me feel like you don't care for me" should be enough of a wake-up call.
Knowing that you are both willing to grow and be better people can save you from a ton of heartache. ___ (Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.")