Like most people, you've probably had a few relationships that while you learned some things and grew from them, if you had known early on what you know now, you could've saved yourself a lot of trouble and heartache.
We know the feeling of being so into someone, trying so hard to make it work with them, and then in retrospect saying, "What was I thinking?" or "Why couldn't I see it then?" Most likely, it's because you didn't know what to look for.
It's very easy for some people to know exactly what to say and when to say it to keep you coming back for more, and sometimes you have to meet with a lot of pain and disappointment before you finally decide to move on from them.
We've been through that several times ourselves, but the truth is that people are giving you signs telling you exactly what you can expect from them from the very beginning. Once you know what to look for and can recognize these signs, you'll never waste time with the wrong person ever again.
We are big proponents of testing every potential relationship before really investing much energy into it. In this post, we're sharing with you the basic test that we cover with all of our clients to determine if someone you're dating is worth real investment.
In a nutshell, this comes down to 3 things:
Communication, Boundaries, and Commitments.
#1 From the very start, you have to communicate what you want and ask if they are on board with it. We say that it is never too early to do this. If you want to get married and have a family, tell them that the first time you meet. Let them know if they choose to walk down that road, that's where it's going. Find out how they feel about it.
The idea is not to get someone into a relationship with you and then try to make them want what you want. The idea is to meet someone who wants what you want and you create that with them.
Don't be afraid of them telling you that they don't want the same thing--that just saves you time! If you get involved with someone without being upfront about what you're looking for, you're only setting up the relationship to fall apart down the road.
You need to know sooner rather than later if they are open to or interested in having what you are looking for. They shouldn't want it for you, they should want it for themselves. If they are an absolute "No", then getting involved with them is an absolute waste of your time and energy.
People have said to us that telling someone you want a family comes off as weak and needy. We say it's weak and needy not to tell them. What you're basically saying is "I'll subordinate my heart's desires to try and get you to like me."
That is not powerful at all.
The first test is to communicate clearly what you want and see if they can get on board with it. Without passing this first test, there is no reason to move forward in the relationship.
#2 Set your boundaries, stick to them, and see if they respect them. Someone who is not willing to respect your boundaries is revealing a lack of emotional maturity that doesn't work in a real relationship.
Many people are dating because they just want to have a good time and meet new people. There is nothing wrong with that but a relationship doesn't always look like having a good time. We are all for a good time--in the beginning, you'll have a great time with each other--but you know as well as we do that the beginning of a new relationship is anything but "normal life". Eventually, you will reach a point where it becomes imperative to create some boundaries.
You might think this sounds negative--it's not. This is how you create the framework for a relationship that will last. People who can't have boundaries with each other can't have harmony in their relationship.
If you say, "I can't stay up late on a weeknight" and they are constantly trying to keep you up on the phone, fooling around, or going out, they are showing you that they don't respect your life and your lifestyle. How could that really work long-term?
If you tell someone you're not open to sleeping with them until at least the 4th or 5th date and on the 2nd date they're trying to make you reconsider, they are showing you that they don't honor the commitments you've made to yourself.
Communicating clearly and keeping your boundaries is the only way you really find out if they are willing to do the same. Someone who understands that shows maturity and the possibility of a healthy relationship. People who can't understand and respect it are not ready for a real relationship. They are not looking for partnership, they want someone who will do whatever they want.
#3 Ask for commitment every step of the way. We tend to think that commitment is something we ask for "down the road" in a relationship. This misconception will cause many challenges in your Love life that could easily be avoided.
It's not that you have to wait to ask for commitment, you just ask for different levels of commitment at different times.