5 Signs You’re With The Wrong Person
Mr. Right Now?
When I first met John, I thought I had met my soul mate. He was handsome, intelligent, witty, and adventurous. The first few months of our relationship were bliss, but as time went on subtle changes began to take place within me. At first, I didn’t notice them. My best friends did. When they would point something out, I would shrug it off. “All relationships have their ups and downs,” I would say. While that may be true, our bodies do send us physiological signals that something isn’t quite right. My body had been trying to tell me for months that I was not with the right guy, but I didn’t listen. John was not abusive. We had a good time together. Yet, the signals were clear. He was not the one.
What physiological signs does your body send you when you’re with the wrong person? There are several, and you should pay close attention when they start to pop up. Learn to trust your gut and it will never lead you astray.
- You lose your smile. My friends began to notice that when I talked about John, I smiled less often. They noticed how my lips would pull tight and my eyes would grow sad. They noticed these months before I began to realize that when I thought of John, my spontaneous smile that was omnipresent in the beginning was fading. If you find yourself smiling less, you are with the wrong person.
- Your self-esteem vanishes. If you start to notice your confidence wavering when it was previously thriving, this is a physiological sign that the person you are with is not helping feel loved and supported the way you should be. If you can’t feel comfortable in their presence when you’re at your worst, then they are not the right person for you. The right person will help your subconscious feel completely at ease, so you are free to be completely and unapologetically you.
- You are emotionally exhausted. While I was dating John, I was completely emotionally exhausted. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was spending a lot of emotional energy trying to be the perfect partner for John. I was trying to manage my moods and anxiety to avoid provoking negative reactions in him. While it is important to be aware of how you affect your SO in healthy relationships if you find yourself micromanaging yourself in order to avoid conflict in you are in trouble. You are allowed to have emotions. You are allowed to express those emotions, and your partner should listen and be supportive. If they aren’t willing to be that shoulder to cry on, you are not with the right person.
- You are in denial. Do you spend a lot of time trying to convince yourself everything is fine in your relationship? I’ve got a little secret for you. FINE is the kiss of death. No one should settle for fine. While all relationships have their ups and downs, and there is definitely a happy medium to be found if you are with the right person you do not have to convince yourself everything is fine. You will FEEL stable and confident and optimistic. You will FEEL a deeper connection and commitment. You will FEEL it. If you find that your inner dialogue dwells on the pros/cons of your relationship a lot, then your body is trying to tell you everything is not FINE.
- You neglect yourself. While you may want to spend every waking moment with your SO, you should never put yourself last. You should not feel guilty about needing me time, and your partner should not begrudge that time either. If you need a night out with your friends or a few hours to yourself, your SO shouldn’t demand that you check in frequently with them. If you do not have time or energy to meet your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs within your relationship, then you are with the wrong person.
All relationships take work. All relationships vacillate between times of pure bliss and rocky roads. The difference is that if you are with the right person, you will FEEL it in your bones. Your body will let you know that you can weather the storm because your SO is committed to you and your happiness, not just their own. With the right partner, every day is beautiful. The struggles become conquerable. The highs become even more brilliant. So, listen to your body—it will guide you to Mr. Right!
The day I died was the most devastating day my wife has ever experienced. The pain of my loss took her on a journey that tore her apart and left her gasping for air. Like the mythical phoenix, she emerged a stronger version of herself. She is now more beautiful, compassionate, and resilient.
It is likely that you feel strong pangs of jealousy over me. You might feel like you are in competition with me in many ways, but you are not. You need to remember that just because her love for me will never dim doesn’t mean her capacity to love you is limited. She has an infinite capacity to love you with her whole heart and soul the way she loved me. I can promise you that to be loved by her in that way is heaven. However, you have to allow her to do that by allowing her to continue to love me.
You may wonder how it is possible for her to love me with her whole heart and soul and to still have room to love you with her whole heart and soul. Well, let me tell you how. Remember when you had your first child? You held that sweet baby in your arms. You breathed in his sweet scent as you kissed his soft little forehead. Your heart was filled to overflowing as you stared into his eyes, and you thought: how could I ever love another human being as much as I love this little boy? Fast forward three years later and your daughter is born. You hold that sweet little bundle in your arms. She wraps her tiny little fingers around your thumb and a tear trickles down your cheek. You notice your heart swells with even more love. You know that you do not love your son less now that your daughter has been born. Your heart has grown to love both equally and uniquely.
That is the magic of the capacity of the human heart. It has an infinite capacity to love. So, as you date my wife please remember that she will need to be true to her feelings for me even as she develops a relationship with you. We are not in competition. I was her yesterday. You are her today and tomorrow.
Here are some things that will help her honor me and love you even more.
- Allow her to keep some of my things in a special place. Allow her to take those things out on birthdays, anniversaries, and other special times to honor the place I held in her life.
- Don’t force her to get rid of things I bought for her. Let her decide what to do with the wedding ring, special jewelry, and other items of importance. Remember that just because she holds onto these items doesn’t diminish the importance of the gifts you give her. She will cherish those because of the unique and loving relationship you will have with her.
- Give her space to grieve. Grieving is a process. She may need to be completely alone on the day anniversary of the day I died or the day of my funeral. She may need to celebrate my birthday with the children we had together. Don’t try to erase the memories we shared or the significant role I played in her life. Give her the time to remember me.
- Remember that dating a widow is different than dating someone with an ex-. We had a loving relationship that neither of us decided to end. You are dating the woman of my dreams, the love of my life. We had our good times and we had our bad times too. You do not need to feel like you are competing with a ghost. I cannot come back.
- Always share how you are feeling. Allow her to share how she is feeling. Make sure you make time for each other. Your relationship with her will be different than the relationship I had with her. That is the way it should be.
I know that at times it will be extremely challenging to love my wife. It is hard for anyone who is dating or married to a widow or widower. It comes with its own unique challenges. However, you also get the benefits of a spouse who knows how to love someone, how to build a life together, and how to endure unimaginable pain and come through it a new and stronger human being.
So, please be careful with my wife’s heart. It has already been through so much. She truly is an amazing woman. Any man who has the opportunity to love her is a truly blessed man.
You sit on the sofa next to the warm, crackling fire. The lights on the Christmas tree are beautiful. The ornaments you made as a young child still hang on several limbs. You smile as you watch your nieces and nephews play noisily on the floor. Your sister is snuggled up in her husband’s arms. Your parents are working together in the kitchen preparing dinner. You can smell the aroma of honey-baked ham and apple pie. As you glance around your childhood home, you reminisce about the hopes and dreams you had as a youngster. The tears catch you by surprise and you try to wipe them away before anyone notices. This warm, inviting environment quickly turns to ice as you become painfully aware of the depth of loss and disappointment you are feeling. Suddenly, you feel the desire to run.
The holidays can be a time of fun and joy, but it can also be a time of intense pain. Being together with family can remind you of what you want or what you had and lost. While it’s important to treasure your time with your family at this time of year, it is also important to acknowledge that it can be very painful. Practicing self-care becomes essential to not just surviving but truly enjoying the beauty of this holiday season.
Self-Care Check List:
- Take time for yourself. Between shopping and parties and work and last minute crisis, this time of year stretches you to your max. You need to schedule time for yourself. This is especially true if you are traveling to visit friends or family. Protect “me time”. You need at least 30 minutes every day.
- Make room for grief. If you are missing a loved one who has passed or a loved one who is no longer part of your life, allow yourself time to sit with your grief. Share memories. Plan something special to remember them. Joy and grief can exist in the same space. Don’t try to hide or ignore the grief or pretend the person didn’t exist. Invite them into your celebration.
- Manage difficult interactions with family members by having a check-in buddy. Try to minimize your interactions with family members who are toxic or who are difficult to get along with. Set up check-in meetings with a close friend so you can vent through a phone call or text throughout the event. This can help alleviate the stress you feel during the interaction.
- Enjoy the amazing food and festivities, but be mindful of how you indulge. Don’t overdo it. Often when we feel sad, depressed, or frustrated we give ourselves permission to self-medicate with too much sugar, alcohol, or drugs. Stay in control and you will not have regrets once the celebrations are over.
- If you have children, spend time with them. See the magic of the season through their eyes. Get lost in the wonder and amazement of seeing the lights on houses, visiting Santa at the mall, going caroling, building gingerbread houses, and snuggling by the fire.
- Practice gratitude. Research shows that simply asking yourself: what am I grateful for? increases dopamine and serotonin levels. If you can’t find an answer to that question, don’t worry. Simply pondering it is enough to begin to build stronger positive emotional pathways in your brain.
- Let go of the ideal. Stop comparing your reality with everyone else’s and feeling like a failure for it. Embrace your situation with all its quirks, benefits, and drawbacks. It is uniquely yours. Stay off of social media during the holidays if the temptation to compare yourself to others is too great.
- Get grounded. Every day, spend at least five minutes grounding yourself. Use all five of your senses. In the shower, feel the water as it runs down your back. Put on your favorite music. Inhale the smell of your favorite soap or body wash. Take a sip of your morning tea or coffee. Be in the moment. Quiet. Focused. You can do this any time during your day. Grounding helps you manage your stress. It can stop a panic attack. It can help you with depression.
- Create new, self-supportive traditions. If doing things the way they’ve always been done causes you more stress and harm than joy and peace–change it! If making your Christmas dinner from scratch makes life too hard, figure out something else. If traditions started with your ex-husband are too painful, start a new tradition. Make sure everything you choose to participate in meets your needs. Traditions are only useful and good if they bring happy memories and experiences. If they don’t, change them.
- Listen to your body. If you are exhausted and empty, you will not be able to give anything to anyone else. You will also not be able to enjoy the moment. It is ok to skip a party (or two). It is ok to give a gift card instead of running yourself ragged trying to find that “perfect” gift. Put yourself first. You need sleep, exercise, healthy food, and time to yourself to tend to your emotional needs. If you have children, this is even more important because they will need you to be at your best.
While self-care is important all year round, it is essential during the holiday season when you have additional stress on your shoulders. For those who are single, the holidays are a reminder that you don’t quite fit into “family” celebrations and this can be quite painful. In order to enjoy these moments to their fullest, make time to care for yourself. Give yourself permission to feel sadness amidst the joy. Treasure the moments life gives you and enjoy this holiday season!
Sarah was a beautiful, vivacious 25-year-old attorney. She had just landed her dream job at a competitive firm in New York. Her family and friends were wildly excited for her. Finally, it seemed that Sarah was reaping the rewards of all of her hard work. Law school had been tremendously hard, and Sarah had struggled getting through it while juggling several dysfunctional relationships with men. Finally, it seemed she could leave the struggle behind.
Although starting this new job meant flying across the country and leaving behind her support system, Sarah didn’t mind. She knew the long hours she would have to put in at the firm meant she would have little time for a social life any way. She said a tearful goodbye to her family and friends, boarded the plane with an optimistic smile, and flew towards her dreams.
Sarah really thrived in New York. McFarland & Sons was a multi-billion dollar law practice that rarely hired anyone straight out of law school. She always arrived an hour before the other attorneys, and she stayed long past the time they all left. She often took work home with her too. To say that she loved her job would be an understatement.
One day, a handsome delivery boy brought in a delivery for Sarah. Her friends back home had sent her flowers. How thoughtful she thought. I wonder if they picked out the hot delivery boy too. She giggled at her own joke. “Are you Sarah Jenkins?” he asked in a deep, baritone voice that sounded like it belonged on Broadway instead of coming out of the mouth of a delivery boy. “Yes, I’m Sarah,” she stammered. “Here’s a delivery for you,” he smiled. “Please sign here.”
Sarah was caught off guard by his handsome face and melodic voice that when she grabbed for the pen she fumbled it, and it flipped out of her hand and hit him in the nose. “Oh no!” Sarah cried out. “I’m so sorry. I’m not usually that clumsy,” she apologized. There was a streak of blue pen on his nose. Sarah was unsure if she should try to wipe it away or if that was too weird. After a long awkward moment, he bent down to pick up the pen and handed it back to Sarah.
“No worries, Sarah. Please sign here, and then I’ll be out of your hair.” Sarah carefully reached for the pen this time, signed her name, and then grabbed the box. “Thank you um …” she paused waiting for him to fill in the answer. “Jeff, my name’s Jeff,” he replied. “Thanks Jeff. I’m sorry. I got pen on your nose. You’ll probably want to wipe that off before you do any more deliveries.” Jeff reached up and rubbed his nose. “Oh boy! I guess I will go take care of that. Thanks for the heads-up. Have a great day, Sarah.” He winked at her and then walked out the door. Sarah couldn’t help but watch him walk away until he was completely out of sight. She noticed butterflies thrashing around inside her stomach. Oh no! This was not happening. She was not going to get involved with any men. She was much too busy, and she was always unlucky in love.
However, life had a different plan for Sarah. The following morning Jeff went back to McFarland & Sons and asked Sarah if she would like to go to dinner. Sarah was hesitant. She had a bad track record with men. Her past relationships had always started off well, but then the Prince Charmings morphed into beasts after a few months’ time.
But, Jeff was so charming and handsome that Sarah could not refuse. During the first few months of their relationship, Jeff was warm, thoughtful, and exciting. She learned that Jeff was an aspiring singer and actor. He was in New York chasing his dream to become a singer and actor. He was working odd jobs to pay the bills, but most of the time he had to crash at his friend’s apartments because he did not make enough to pay his rent. Jeff told Sarah about how hard it was to catch a break in acting and how expensive it was. Sarah enjoyed being with Jeff. She was flattered that someone like him would even be interested in her. She was sympathetic with his struggles, so she paid for all their dates. She knew Jeff felt bad that he could not pay right now, but that would change once he got his first big break. Besides, she had a great job, and she was happy to help.
After a few months, Sarah began to become obsessed with Jeff. She was determined to help him be successful. When she was not at work, she would spend time researching agents for Jeff to interview or looking for auditions for him. She knew Jeff could not afford an agent, so she offered to pay for one. Jeff was grateful, of course, and then he said that if he had an agent he would also need acting lessons, singing, lessons, and a photography shoot. All of these were costly, but Sarah happily gave the money to Jeff. She was invested in him and his future.
As the months passed, Jeff’s behavior began to change. He became moody and entitled. He demanded that Sarah let him move in with her so that he could have a stable roof over his head. He blamed his failing his recent auditions on not having a stable place to live. When she told him she wasn’t sure about living together, he became enraged. He yelled and cursed at her. For the first time, Sarah was frightened of Jeff. She asked him to leave. He kicked the door on the way out and left a hole in it.
The following day Jeff apologized and blamed his poor behavior on his dysfunctional childhood. He spent the next few hours confessing to Sarah that his mother had abused him as a child and that is why he had yelled at her the previous night. Sarah was really touched by this confession. She felt honored that Jeff trusted her enough to confide in her. She vowed to help him heal his emotional wounds and become a successful adult.
But, as the days went by, Jeff’s behavior became more chaotic. The smallest thing would set him off. He would yell and kick the wall. Often he would call Sarah demeaning names. And sometimes he would disappear for days at a time with no explanation. When he returned, Sarah noticed he had lipstick on his collar but never dared ask him about where it came from. Ironically, as the relationship deteriorated and Sarah’s heart felt the mounting pain from Jeff’s actions, the more she felt committed to “saving” him. She knew if she could only love him enough then he would change.
One night after a particularly bad screaming match with Jeff, Sarah locked herself in her room. She called her best friend, Julie, and confided in her about her new relationship. As carefully and lovingly as Julie could, she said, “Sarah, I hate to tell you this, but your old pattern is back. Jeff sounds just like Tim and Steve. Sure, the details are different, but the pattern is the same. You’re trying to rescue another lost puppy and now it’s gone rabid and it’s attacking you.” Sarah sobbed. “Why does this keep happening? You would think I could spot a loser a mile away! I’m a lost cause.”
Are you like Sarah? Do you have a pattern of forming relationships with men where you sacrifice your own needs for safety, love, and comfort for someone else? How would you answer the following questions?
- Are most of your conversations with friends (or family) about him, his problems, his thoughts, and his feelings?
- Do you excuse his moodiness, bad temper, indifference, put-downs as problems because he had a bad childhood, a stressful job, a tough life?
- Do you read self-help books and underline things you think will help him?
- Do you dislike many of his basic characteristics, values, behaviors but put up with them because you think you can change him?
- Does your relationship with him jeopardize your emotional well-being or physical safety?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be a woman who loves too much. In our culture, women have been conditioned through music that love should be painful. Rarely do love songs become number one hits if they talk about two people who have a mature, balanced, respectful relationship. Songs only become a hit if someone is willing to die for love, sacrifice everything for love, bleed for love, or cut out their heart for love. It is no wonder that around 30% of all women find themselves in relationships that are extremely dysfunctional and that this pattern repeats itself until one of three things happen: (1) she gives up on relationships, (2) love does kill her, or (3) she identifies the pattern and gets help.
Women who love too much have several common characteristics. Do any of these describe you?
- They come from dysfunctional homes where their emotional needs were not met.
- They try to fill their emotional needs vicariously by becoming a caregiver to men who appear needy.
- They are terrified of abandonment.
- They will do anything to save a relationship.
- They will sacrifice anything to help the man they’re with.
- They’re accustomed to a lack of love in a relationship, and so they’re willing to wait, hope, and try harder to please their man.
- They’re willing to take far more than 50% of the responsibility, guilt, and blame in a relationship.
- They have critically low levels of self-esteem.
- They have a desperate need to control their man because they had little security in childhood.
- They are more in touch with the dream of their relationship than with the reality of it.
- They are addicted to men and emotional pain.
- They may be predisposed to chemical/food addictions.
- They have a tendency towards depression.
- They use sex as a tool to manipulate their man.
- They are not attracted to men who are kind, stable, reliable, or who are interested in them. They find them boring.
So, what do you do if you see yourself in any of these descriptions?
First, do not despair. There is something you can do. Make your recovery a priority. You cannot break this pattern on your own. Find a therapist who can help you work through the issues that are keeping you locked in this pattern. Most of the research I’ve read strongly suggests that women see women therapists. If possible, find a female therapist near you and tell her you think you are a woman who loves too much. Second, find a support group. Your therapist can recommend one for you. Third, develop your spiritual side. Set aside some time daily to get in touch with your higher power. Invite him or her into your life. Ask for help and guidance as you tackle this problem. Meditate. Fourth, stop managing and controlling others. This will be a hard one. This has become a skill you have used to “love” others, but it is self-serving. You need to find more genuine ways to connect with people. Fifth, make a commitment to cultivate what needs to be developed in you. Make a list of talents, skills, or abilities that you would like to work on. Set short-term and long-term goals to help you develop yourself in these areas. These will help you fill the void that you have been trying to fill by your dysfunctional relationships with men. Instead of “mothering” needy men, spend time mothering yourself.
Loving too much is just like any other addiction–it is a dysfunctional coping strategy that must be treated with a professional’s help. The good news is women who have loved too much can have healthy, successful relationships in their future! So, take advantage of the help that is available for you and set yourself up for success when you are on datingsafe.com. Love does not have to hurt. In fact, it shouldn’t. Period.
Information for this article was adapted from Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood. I also recommend the book Healing Your Emotional Self by Beverly Engel