Dating is more complex today than ever before.
You have a semi-new partner and everything was going so well until they stopped answering your calls. They say one thing and mean another.
There are looming shadows of ex-significant others, who are creeping back into your partner’s life. Or were they ever not present?
You find yourself more invested in the relationship than your partner. You feel like you’re going crazy, because “it shouldn’t be that big of a deal” (in the words of your partner, of course). The nightmare’s only just begun, because you’re being spun around in this game of dating, and you’re not even sure if you’re a key player anymore.
It’s always difficult to differentiate between the crippling insecurities that are hindering you and the warning signs that you don’t want to face. And social media sites like Facebook are making dating even more challenging with the ability to monitor and follow the activities of others.
Lets take it slowly through this checklist, and see if you can identify with any of the following. Dating games can be fun if everyone’s respectful of each other, and you’re in on a few of the rules.
Do you find your partner reliable and trusting?
Reliable is different from predictable. Reliable means that your partner is responsive to you and your needs.
- Do you find yourself being there for your partner, more than you are there for them?
- Do you find yourself taking on a lot of favors that your partner asks of you?
- Do you think that you and your partner have equal control of the relationship, and what the two of you do?
- Does your partner appreciate you as you are?
If there’s ever a time that you feel like you’re being manipulated, or you are confused about the way your partner treats you, maybe you should express your concerns.
If you’re in a serious and wholesome relationship, you shouldn’t be scared to say how you feel and your partner should not be dismissing you lightly.
Don’t be scared to talk about past relationships with your partner
It’s always a sore subject to bring up past lovers, but nothing is more indicative of a person’s future course of actions than what they’ve done before and how they’ve been treating other people.
Consider this: do you have a partner who has mentioned in passing that the majority of their ex’s feel resentment or bitterness towards them? Maybe you have a partner with very extreme opinions about their past relationships.
A word of advice: nothing is black and white. Of course you need to give your partner the benefit of the doubt when they say that they did nothing wrong and they kept having jealous boyfriends or girlfriends. What you need to do, is make sure that your relationship with your partner is unique and special. If you feel that your partner isn’t making an effort to prioritise you, you’ll have bigger problems in the future than becoming “one of many ex’s who had x trait”.
Vet your new partner with friends and family
Has this ever happened to you: you were in a relationship and once it ends, all of your friends tell you how relieved they are that it’s over. Maybe you’ve been on the other side. Have you ever found yourself hesitating to tell someone you care about, that you don’t think that they’re in the healthiest relationship? How can this phenomena be explained?
Your friends know you best, and they’re friends with you because they want the best for you. Your love for your partner can be powerful and give you a biased perspective that defends their negative actions. The fact is, love often blinds us to characteristics or personality traits in our partner that can be deal-breakers in the long run.
Vet your new partner with family and friends and ask them for their honest opinion. Be prepared to take the feedback with a grain of salt, but if the majority of your family and friends express concerns, it might be worth taking a closer look at what type of person your partner is.
There’s one caveat here though; your friends are also biased because they want the best for you. If they think you’re not being treated the best, it’s likely they will come to your defence. If you feel you’re losing perspective, it’s often best to seek out a relationship therapist who can truly be impartial.
The term “dating games” in itself is a little bit misleading. A game implies that there’s winning and losing, and nobody wants to be a loser. However, when you’re in a loving relationship, there shouldn’t be any loss to worry about. That isn’t to say that there’s no risk or sacrifices. Let’s be real, we’re dealing with humans.
If you live your life concerned and scared about the pain you’re going to have to endure through the years, then you will not live a full one. But if you find yourself needlessly worried about your partner’s fidelity, it’s usually accompanied by a fair share of guilt and self-loathing.
You and your partner should be making each other happy. A relationship is supposed to be enhancing your quality of life, not giving you grief. Because in the end, even if you find yourself hating the dating game you’ve been dragged into, your real focus should be the game of life- your own life.
Do you need relationship help?
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.