If you’ve had several relationships go sour, you surely want your next one to be as healthy as possible. One way is to look for patterns that existed in previous relationships and view these as warning signals. Let us give you four “key indicators” to watch for as a new relationship develops:
1. How much emotion is involved early on, and how is it handled?
Review the ways in which your past relationships have started. The initial days, weeks, and months of a new relationship are very revealing. Many relationships start with a high degree of infatuation and ecstatic feelings. Often these intense relationships become physical, or even sexual, prematurely and the individuals make “implicit commitments.” Other relationships unfold much more rationally and evenly. Recognize how your past relationships have progressed early on and evaluate if your current (or future) relationship is following the same pattern. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with strong feelings of attraction—it’s how individuals handle their passion that causes the relationship to evolve in a healthy or unhealthy way.
2. What is the typical pace of your relationships?
Think about when certain milestone events took place: the first kiss, the first time you said, “I love you,” the first time you indicated a commitment. By identifying these “signpost” events, you can determine if your relationships have evolved at a hurried pace or a steady one. Relationships that develop quickly often signify that one or both partners are overeager, impulsive, and insecure. The healthiest, most durable relationships develop gradually and unhurriedly.
3. What type of person do you tend to get involved with?
Often, people consistently select partners who are similar, whether they be needy, unreliable, irresponsible, or volatile. Think about the kinds of people you’ve been involved with. As you review your relationships, do you see the same kinds of personality traits in your partners? If so, carefully consider if your next partner is falling in line with his or her predecessors.
4. Are there similarities in the family background of the people you’ve been involved with?
Along with the personality and temperament of your previous partners, carefully consider the families from which these people came. Were they from broken homes, explosive homes, chaotic homes?
Taking a look at the past can ensure a brighter future. When you identify patterns from previous relationships—and correct them—you’ll enable the next one to be lasting and fulfilling.