If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store on an empty stomach, you know how quickly a short shopping list of essential items can turn into a cart full of junk you didn’t need and wouldn’t ordinarily buy. The fact is, shopping hungry is a great way to spend more money than you intended on food that is probably bad for you.
The same could be said for dating, when it has been a long time since you last enjoyed a loving relationship. If you are starved for passion, intimacy, and affection, everyone you meet begins to look pretty good. Some of those potential partners may very well be good prospects for you; others not so much. The key is to keep a level head while you sort them out.
To do that, it helps to be aware of the ways in which overeagerness can work against you—and to be on your guard. Here are four common signs you may be too easily seduced for your own good:
1. You are quick to overlook glaring signs of incompatibility.
When you want something very much, it is only human nature to rationalize away the apparent reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t have it. For instance, in this state of mind, you might convince yourself that an argument about politics is a healthy sign of diversity and inclusiveness in the relationship—rather than evidence that you and your potential partner do not share common values. Widely differing tastes in music, movies, friends, or how to spend an afternoon off may look trivial at first, especially to someone who is desperate for companionship of any kind. In fact, these are important litmus tests of compatibility that must be weighed carefully before you move deeper into a long-term partnership. To be sure you are thinking clearly, try making a list of the pros and cons of each new relationship. Seeing it in writing can override the tendency to sugarcoat the obvious.
2. You ignore the opinions of friends and family.
Granted, your dating decisions are not subject to the approval of a committee. Nevertheless, your closest relatives and friends often see early signs of trouble in a new relationship when you can’t—or don’t want to. They care about your well-being and will notice when someone new has a negative effect on you. If you find yourself frequently defending your new romance to people whose advice you ordinarily trust, pay attention! They may be telling you that your desire for love at any cost is clouding your judgment.
3. You make unhealthy compromises for the sake of the relationship.
One reason dating is so exciting is that it draws you out of your routine and into new adventures. But when a fledgling relationship begins to reset your personal standards of responsible or safe behavior, you are probably giving up more than you are getting in return—a clear sign the partnership is not right for you. Here are several common examples: spending more money than you can afford; “partying” more than ever; rushing into physical intimacy sooner than you’d like; or neglecting other obligations and relationships. The right partner will bring out the very best in you. If the opposite seems true, the cost of your eagerness for romance is too high.
4. You linger longer than you should in a dead-end situation.
In any unhealthy relationship, there comes a time when the signs of dysfunction are no longer so subtle. Easy-to-overlook evidence of incompatibility can turn into unconcealed discord, perhaps even abuse. Often it is simply the fear of going back to being single that causes us to endure emotional hardship long past the point when reasonable self-preservation dictates we move on. Don’t let your longing for love become a rationale for prolonged mistreatment of any kind.
There is nothing wrong with being eager for intimacy and affection—it is the natural state of someone ready for lasting romance. Just don’t forget to love and protect yourself as well on the way to finding a great partner.