By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
People are wired to respond positively to being tantalized. The smell of buttered popcorn as you stroll into a movie theater. The jingle of coins from slot machines as you walk through a casino. The promise of flattering attention and acceptance from advertisements about the latest fashion. But, of course, not all that catches our attention is good for us.
The same is true of the come hither look of a sexy man or woman. Or even the cat-and-mouse games that so often entice people into relationships. So, it’s important to know when you are attracted to the wrong person. You might need to think twice if the person:
- Has no close friends: Even if his or her acquaintances abound, pay attention to the lack of emotionally close relationships. While there might be a good reason for this emotional isolation, it would be in your best interests to be alert to this possible sign of the person having difficulty with intimacy.
- Lacks insight about him- or herself: Someone who does not understand and cannot (or will not) articulate their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs will be limited in their ability to share in an open, emotionally connected way.
- Fails to acknowledge mistakes or limitations: Beware of someone who is defensive and unable to tolerate acknowledging their part in difficulties in their life and in their relationships. Just as they are unable to accept their own flaws, they will be unlikely to accept yours – making it difficult to work out problems and differences between you.
- Is a poor communicator: Because good communication is the hallmark of emotionally close relationships, poor communicators have difficulty nurturing such relationships. They also lack the skills to talk through disagreements.
- Fails to show you respect and appreciation: Without these basics, no relationship can possibly make you happy.
- Fails to show an interest in getting to know you: Even after the initial exciting days of a relationship, partners in healthy, happy relationships continue to show an interest in (and are supportive of) each other’s thoughts, feelings, interests, and activities.
- Is not ready for a relationship: Healthy long-term relationships are created through caring and effort. This means that both partners must be prepared to give the relationship the time and attention it needs to flourish.
By recognizing that the person who looked like a “great catch” is, in reality, not such a great choice for you, you can avoid many frustrations. You won’t end up wasting your time in a situation that likely won’t come out well. It also enables you to move on quickly, giving you an opportunity to find the partner of your dreams, rather than getting stuck in a recurring nightmare.
The Art of Relationship s blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.