Have you ever dated someone who you know is bad for you, yet you can’t seem to let go of them for inexplicable reasons?
It’s more common than you think. It happens when the emotional part of your brain overrides the rational part and you end up acting like a drug addict craving your next hit.
It’s really like addiction, according to Helen Fisher, the biological anthropologist famous for the TedTalk ‘The brain in love’.
She explains romantic interactions can dramatically drive up our dopamine system. Especially, when we have sex, we’re flushed with oxytocin and vasopressin, the neurochemicals that are linked with love attachment.
So if you’re not careful, you might find yourself getting emotionally attached to someone who is terribly wrong for you.
But, what does “a wrong person for you” mean? While the definition of this varies from person to person depending on what you’re specifically looking for, generally, it means someone who can’t or won’t give you what you want and need in a relationship.
For anyone who finds this happening repeatedly, and who’s wanting to break the cycle, here’s how avoid getting attached to such “wrong people”.
Have a clear dating goal
The first step to getting what you want in life is to know what you want. It’s also true when it comes to dating. Some people going on dates have no clear idea of what they’re looking for and end up in situations that hurt them emotionally, physically, or even financially.
If you have a dating goal in mind, however, you will be more confident and know what signs to watch out for when weeding out incompatible partners.
Dr Ali Binazir, author of the popular self-help book The Tao of Dating advises that you should write down your goals and affirmations in the present tense every morning for 90 days to trick the subconscious into manifesting them.
Know your boundaries and standards
After you have set yourself a goal, whether it be a serious relationship or a fun, casual fling, you need to know your boundaries and standards.
What are these? In simple terms, standards are what you would say ‘yes’ to, and boundaries are what you would say ‘no’ to. They’re the terms and conditions that allow you to be a healthy, happy human in a relationship that adds value to your life.
The new people you meet won’t always share your dating goal or your expectations for a relationship. That’s why, to filter out those who are not on the same page as you, you need to stay firm when your boundaries and standards are challenged.
Take your time to get to know your date
Getting attached to the wrong people often happens when you rush the dating process and get intimate (no, not just sex) with someone before having a good understanding of who they are as a person and their views on relationships.
Forming an attachment with someone should be a conscious decision. You should really know who gives you that cocktail of neurochemicals before you drink it up. And the best way to do that is by talking to them and seeing them in different social situations over time.
Avoid (too much) alcohol on the first few dates
Having a drink or two can help you loosen up but going all out on the first few dates can potentially cloud your judgment.
A study also found that there was a strong correlation between alcohol consumption on a date and the likelihood it ended in sex.
So if you’re not prepared to have sex or fall in love with someone you don’t know well, this study advises you to drink moderately and limit your number of glasses to about two.
Have important conversations early on
Daters often steer clear from serious topics such as views on marriage and children for fear of scaring their partner away.
But that’s exactly why you need to have these conversations early on because the only people you will scare away are the people who are wrong for you.
When the relationship is still new and light, it’s good to talk openly and neutrally about important topics to gauge long-term compatibility or at least to know where the relationship might be heading.
Some conversation examples are life goals, relocation plans if any, preferences on pets, personal finance, or any other topics you find significant.
Move on ruthlessly
If you have reasons to believe someone is wrong for you, you owe it to yourself to walk away immediately. The longer you stay involved with someone, the stronger your attachment with them is, and the more the relationship impacts you. So, if the relationship is toxic, you’ll suffer longer than you ever deserve.
End the relationship quickly, take your time to recover, and your search shall continue.