As a therapist, I’ve talked to countless women who date the wrong guys for the wrong reasons. It doesn’t matter whether they are 15 or 50; they’ll plod along in unfulfilling relationships. They tolerate disrespectful, energy-depleting behaviors from their boyfriends. Eventually they get sick of it, and they end up on my couch asking: “How did I get here?” My question is the same: “When did you first notice the red flags or question your compatibility?” Most of the time, they’ll admit it was by the second or third date! Hard to believe, but true. So if you want to make sure you avoid the wrong guy, consider the following lessons that lead to the right guy:
Learn to trust your gut feelings
Whether it’s a voice in your head or a pit in your stomach, your gut feelings are your internal warning system. When you’re on a first date and his behavior triggers your gut — maybe he’s rude to the waiter or talks about himself all night — pay attention! Speak up and discuss your concerns: “I felt a little uncomfortable when you called our waiter (fill in derogatory name here).” Maybe it was just a slip or maybe it’s his true colors. His reaction will tell you a lot. If he dismisses you, politely thank him for dinner and run to the nearest exit.
Think about what you really want in a relationship and don’t compromise.
It’s not about being picky. It’s about defining what you want in your life and standing firm. I’m not saying that you should eliminate a great guy because he’s bald, or doesn’t have a million dollars in the bank. Rather, I’m encouraging you to be conscious of what you want and need in a relationship. If you discover major differences or observe behavior that doesn’t sit right with you, pay attention. While it’s nice to give someone a second chance, do you really want to say yes to a third date with a guy who you already know is all wrong for you? Be careful, or you may find yourself in a relationship that should have ended at first cup of coffee.
First impressions can sometimes be wrong, second impressions are right on!
Think about it this way. Everyone is talking about the new restaurant in town. You finally get a reservation and expectations are high. You arrive and it’s oozing with ambiance. When your waiter finally shows up, he has an attitude. He rattles off the dinner specials with detached boredom. “That’s OK,” you think. “He’s just busy.” You place your order and wait… and wait. An hour passes before a wilted salad appears. Your steak is cold and overdone. Disappointment creeps in. “I want to love this place,” you think, but the whole night has turned out wrong and you will probably never set foot in the restaurant again. Why don’t you set those same high standards when it comes to your relationships? Go on a second date. But if you get the same cold steak and surly attitude, have the sense to call it quits.
I remind my clients that the “third date is a charm!” If you’re not charmed by the third date, don’t say yes to a fourth one. He may be a nice guy, but your gut feelings will tell you whether he’s the right guy for you. And if you keep dating the wrong guy, you won’t be available when the right guy comes along!