Rate Your Mate BEFORE It’s Too late: Part 3
We all want to fall in love. What can be better than having a really great relationship with someone who we love and who loves us? Yet blinded by romance, we frequently marry or commit to someone who we don’t really know. Think back to how many times you thought you knew everything there was to know about your partner. You believed that the person you were madly in love with was exactly who he seemed to be. Then suddenly without warning- disaster. Your relationship was in shambles. Your mind was spinning. What went wrong? Chances are the signs were there all along but you just didn’t know what to look for.
In my last 3 Tomatoes article I discussed the importance of family background because frequently the acorn does not fall far from the tree. And even though we can’t change our histories or our partner’s backgrounds, we need to be sure that the issues from the past have been acknowledged, addressed and resolved as best as possible so that destructive and self-destructive behaviors and patterns can finally be put to rest.
Four hundred and fifty people in the Boston, Providence and Connecticut areas participated in the research that culminated in my book For Better, For Worse, Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love (Chandler House Press, 3rd ed. 2008). As a result of my research findings, I developed a 10-step, fail-safe formula, already successfully used by thousands of men and women around the world, to help people accurately assess who’s right or wrong for you BEFORE committing to any serious relationship. My formula is not sexy or romantic. But what it does do is educate, empower and keep us safe.. One of the most surprising findings was that it takes close to a year and not a few weeks or months to really discover who your partner is and is not.
Skeletons in the Closet- Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
It’s the wise lover who dares to take a peek into the closet where skeletons may lie. Did you know that there are about 12 million new sexually transmitted cases every year? Women and men risk their lives all the time by having sex with someone they don’t know. I recommend ‘reading’ (not hearing about) your partner’s lab report from his physician which rule out any STD’s before having sex. Romantic? No. But anyone who cares about you will want you to feel safe!.
Is Your Partner an Alcoholic or a Drug Abuser?
Do you worry that your partner may have a drinking or drug problem. Stop, look and listen. Is he recognizably under the influence of alcohol once a week, although he may not be intoxicated? Does he try to cover up the amount of alcohol he consumes. Does he have little or no memory of the night before? Does he experience painful hangovers? Does he alibi and rationalize his drinking or drug use? Do his social pursuits revolve around drinking and drugs? These are all clear cut signs that there is a problem. The real question is what are YOU going to DO about this. Are you going to enable a substance abuse or are you going to protect yourself from being with someone who will ultimately make a very poor partner for you. Remember a substance abuser is already intimate with his addiction, making himself a poor candidate for a love relationship!
Untreated anxiety, depression and other psychiatric problems are serious obstacles to love relationships. So if you see that your partner is struggling with mental health issues it is vital that he is willing to acknowledge, address and resolve the problems. Otherwise, you will frequently feel as if you are on a roller coaster ride.
Communication and Problem-Solving
Good emotional communication and problem-solving are the 2 key ingredients that will make or break your relationship. As your relationship progresses you need to find out whether your partner is able and willing to communicate in an honest and open and respectful manner, regardless of the issues. So don’t avoid discussing dicey issues. Successful communicators are able to discuss, make compromises and trade-off that lead to win/win/ resolutions.
Remember you can have great sex without any emotional connection or intimacy. And on the other hand you can have a strong emotional connection without physical attraction. Ideally, we want BOTH. Intimacy cannot be hurried. It grows through a willingness to be open and vulnerable. And real trust and caring and sharing takes time to build. So for your own peace of mind, be honest with yourself and don’t confuse the two.
Many people have problems in the bedroom. However, the good news is that most sexual difficulties can be resolved with open communication, and if need be- sex therapy.
Old Baggage and the High Price of Exes
Before you get serious with someone who was previously married, ask yourself the following questions:
- Since most adults of a certain age have grown children, are you comfortable sharing your partner with children who may never accept you?
- What is the agreement about alimony? Are you comfortable knowing that a good portion of the money will be going to his ex wife.
- Can your partner put aside his own animosity toward his former spouse so that it will not interfere with your relationship?
- Is your partner aware of why his previous relationship failed and what part he played in the demise of the relationship? Remember it takes two to tango.
Now it’s time to ask yourself 3 important questions.
- What do I really want and need in a partnership.
- What do I not want and need in a relationship.
- Describe my relationship.
You need to be very honest with yourself. And even though there is no such thing as the perfect partner, there are compromises that you should NEVER make including:
- Substance abuse of any kind
- Verbal, emotional, sexual or physical abuse
- Physical attraction….unless you and your partner both have no interest in a physical relationship.
- Emotional communication and problem-solving
- Any behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable, uneasy or unsafe.
Now you have a brief summary of my 10-step formula. Take it seriously.
Good luck on your relationship journey.
Do you have a question for Beatty? Email her at BeattyCohan.email@example.com
Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW, AASECT, is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, author, national speaker, columnist and national radio and television expert guest. Beatty has been an expert guest in national television and radio for over 25 years and continues to offer her unique charismatic brand of positive energy and psychological analysis and commentary -- bypassing the usual trite psycho-babble and often politically correct blandness that dominates the mass media.
Beatty is co-author of For Better, For Worse, Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, and host of ASK BEATTY, live every Monday night on the Progressive Radio Network. She has a private practice in New York City, East Hampton and Sarasota, Florida.
Visit Beatty at: www.Beattycohan.com
Or email at: BeattyCohan.firstname.lastname@example.org