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The Mistake I Will Never Make Again When Choosing A Partner

It took me a long time to figure out what I was doing wrong.

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Paar mit Problemen am Strand
Mia Takahara/plainpicture
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I got divorced after being married for almost two decades. That was over six years ago and when my marriage ended, I thought it would be a lot easier than it has been to find another partner.

I’ve dated two men exclusively, and a few men casually, and yet here I am soon facing 50 and still single. The common denominator in all of this has been me. And, after my last break up, a relationship that lasted three years, I realized I’d been doing something wrong when it came to finding a man: I’d commit to someone who was almost right with the idea that I could change the things I was not okay with.

For example, my last boyfriend was, occasionally, a heavy drinker and he had a gambling addiction he always said he was working on. I figured with time, he’d grow out of these habits or I could help him find a better way to spend his time. I hoped (for way too long) that he’d start to see that I was enough and he’d stop doing these things so I would feel more secure.

I tried so hard that I lost pieces of myself in the process. After it hit me that what I’d been doing was wrong, I ended the relationship. I felt incredibly guilty and ashamed I’d wasted so much time trying to change another person.

However, after getting some time and space away from it, I am thankful I went through something that was so trying because it was the wake-up call I needed. Trying to get someone to change is not a smart way to spend your time and energy. I know it is hard for me to change so why would I think I’d be able to change someone else?

I’ve always had the idea in the back of my head that I could “fix” certain things about a man, whether it was the way he dressed, how good he was with money, or if he had a certain lifestyle habit I didn’t agree with. I thought if I gave it more time, or if I convinced them more, or if I loved them harder, they would start listening to me and morph their behaviors to suit my needs and make me feel safer and more comfortable. Then, when it wouldn’t happen, I’d lose feelings, respect and attraction.

I’m not saying you can’t work on things together, talk things out or make suggestions to your partner. When we are with someone, they are our person. We trust them, go to them for advice and value their opinion.

What I am saying is if I start dating someone and I’m not comfortable with anything from the way they dress to how they talk to the waitress to how they spend their Friday nights, instead of thinking, "Well, I like so many other things about them, perhaps I can help them fix that part of themselves." Instead, I am going to ask myself if I am completely okay with them being exactly how they are.

If the answer is yes, then I am not going to try and change them. I will embrace the entire person they are because that’s what I want from my partner.

And if the answer is no, I am going to walk away from that person, even if it hurts me because there are many other things I like about them.

I cannot fall for potential any longer. It’s been something I’ve been doing for too long and I didn’t even realize it. I’m not holding out for perfection either because that doesn’t exist. What I am looking for is a person who I want to spend lots of time with and love exactly who they are, with all their faults, quirks and shortcomings, because all humans have them.

Everyone has certain dealbreakers or things they really need in a relationship. So, if I see things I know aren’t going to work for me, instead of thinking I can change them, I am going to walk away and keep looking. One thing I’ve learned about midlife is being alone in my lovely solitude and peace is so much better than being with someone who is almost right for me — but not quite.

Are any of you dating right now? What do you think of the above? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Relationships