After three years of a very unstable relationship, it hit me: I began the relationship for the wrong reasons. I was in the relationship trying to fill a void within myself. I thought my boyfriend could fulfill me completely. I quit the two jobs I had been working and stopped going to school, and I was okay with that, partly because I thought that my boyfriend would help to fill the holes in my life. I put my life on hold. I didn’t do that solely because of my boyfriend—other circumstances were involved—but by the end of the relationship, we both felt lost.
After we broke up, I didn’t know how to function on my own.
I had solely lived for my boyfriend, and without him, I didn’t know how to live. I ended up going back to him, multiple times, and it took a year and a half for me to completely cut off the relationship.
Since then I’ve grown to where I’m more comfortable being by myself. After reflection, I realized that part of the problem with that relationship was me. I had entered the relationship with the wrong mindset and not enough boundaries between what I need to do for myself and how to help someone else.
From that experience I’ve come up with three “wrong reasons” to get into a relationship.
1. Getting Into A Relationship To Run From Yourself
During much of my life I have felt the emptiness left by my mom’s death, and a void from the love that I never felt from my biological dad. I had not gone through the process of healing, but instead submerged and tried to forget about the pain. There is a right way to grieve, a process, to help you cope. But I instead made myself numb and tried to forget it. One of the ways I did cope was by using romantic relationships to cover my own problems.
But I found that an intimate relationship is not always the answer to personal problems. I learned that each individual needs to have a basic level of self-love and self-care before beginning a relationship. Otherwise, if you have really low self-esteem it’s easy to use the person you are dating as a way to avoid yourself and your issues.
I’m not against finding yourself with somebody, because growing together can be a good thing. But there is a fine line to walk: Take care of significant personal problems first, so that you will be better prepared to be in a relationship.
2. Getting Into A Relationship To Feel Needed
I’ve been in relationships where the other person was completely relying on me in order to make himself feel happy. It feels good to be needed, but having him need me like that—being clingy, always needing to be right by my side—ended up tearing us down, because he had no self-motivation. Plus, I could not always make him happy, and it put a lot of unnecessary pressure on our relationship.
Sometimes a boyfriend of girlfriend will even threaten to commit suicide if you break up with them. That is a sign that that person needs professional help and is not ready to be in a relationship.
3. Getting Into A Relationship To Heal From A Past Relationship
A break-up can be a serious life-altering event. I will be the first to tell you getting in another relationship to heal yourself from someone else is not the right thing to do and will not end well for you or the other person. It’s tempting to take your mind off of one person by getting with somebody else, but humans are not crutches. Using someone is not real love. So getting into a relationship to distract yourself from a past relationship is not only unfair to the other person, but a faulty foundation to build on.
Instead of falling into these traps, I have found it helpful to set boundaries early enough, and stick to them. For example, setting a “no dating” period to give myself time and space to heal from a past relationship without the pressure of starting a new relationship, or meeting with a therapist for a certain number of months to work on personal issues before diving into a new relationship.
When you are ready for a relationship, I have found it helpful to get to know each other as friends first—strengths, personality, and even flaws. Then, make a decision to be in a relationship. I know I want to be able to grow in love for that person, not just using them to escape my own pain. Doing that will help you to avoid setting yourself up for another dead-end relationship.
To sum it up, don’t lower your boundaries. Stick to your guns or stick to nothing. In the end, you’ll be thankful that you did.