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Blinded by Love?

 For relationships to thrive, we all need help to see our blind spots. Here’s a little guidance to get there…

Jessica came face-to-face with a dating dilemma that had sabotaged many of her potential romances. “I realized I have the bad habit of dating guys who are fun-loving and free-spirited but totally irresponsible and flaky,” she said. “I could give you a list of my former boyfriends who were like this—great fun to be around but unreliable when it counted. That has been my unhealthy pattern: continually involved with guys who would never make a trustworthy husband. Hopefully, understanding this about myself will help me change the old way of doing things.”

How did Jessica come to this realization? It was her best friend, Heather, who noticed the unhealthy tendency and gently pointed it out. “I knew my relationships were all ending badly,” Jessica said, “but I couldn’t see how I was contributing by making lousy decisions.”

And then there’s Greg, who also had a string short-lived relationships that all seemed to end for the same reason. After a few months of dating, his girlfriends would say something like, “Do you know how critical and judgmental you come across?” Or, “Your sarcastic comments and negative attitude are getting old.” Sometimes the women wouldn’t say anything—they would just break off the relationship. Greg never considered himself a caustic, cynical type of person—but evidence to the contrary was stacking up.

The experiences of Jessica and Greg bring up an important point: all of us have blind spots to certain aspects of ourselves. Research shows that we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. Psychological and emotional blind spots keep us from seeing ourselves clearly. They trick us into believing in a reality that may not be true. And they feed us misinformation.

When we can see ourselves clearly and accurately, we become aware of both constructive and destructive ways we interact with others. This is why discovering your blind spots is so crucial to being emotionally healthy—and developing healthy relationships. It’s not easy work, but the payoffs are certainly worth the effort.

The problem with blind spots is that, well, we’re blind to them. We can’t see our areas of weakness. We can’t know all the ways we may be projecting an unlikeable image, communicating ineffectively, or hindering intimacy with others. That’s why we need trusted friends, mentors, or counselors to hold up a mirror. Other people can usually see us more clearly than we can see ourselves. Therefore, we all need to solicit open and honest feedback from people we trust.

It will take courage on your part. It will mean being vulnerable. But this is how growth occurs. Identify a trusted friend or counselor and ask:

1. How do I come across to people—for better or worse?
2. Is there anything I do that pushes people away?
3. What do you think I could do to enhance rather than encumber my relationships?

Healthy people know themselves well. They know their strengths and limits, their likes and dislikes. They are aware of how they come across to others. They work to keep their blind spots to a minimum. And in doing so, they create the opportunity for lasting love.