Stuck in a Downward Dating Cycle?

by | Jul 1, 2019

You know the routine. You meet someone. Sparks fly. You think he might be the one. Your hopes soar. After all, you’ve been dating loser after loser for years now. It’s your turn. Your time. And then you’re out together, introducing him to your friends, and he starts chatting them up. Flirting with them. Before you know it he’s paying a little too much attention to your bestie. And then bam, you’re let down once again. He’s not the guy for you after all.

If you find you’re serial dating losers, it’s time to break the cycle. You’ve got a penchant for choosing the wrong person and there’s a reason you’re attracted to addicts or abusers or financial users or sociopaths or you name it. It’s time to examine that reason. Only then can you be free of the self-destructive pattern you’re stuck in.

Chances are your childhood was less than ideal. Your parents or caregivers were not there for you on a regular basis, providing you with a healthy, stable relationship in which to learn how to connect, love and be loved. So you seek out the familiar in new relationships, even when the familiar is not good for you.

The first step to breaking this pattern is to recognize what you’re doing. If you’re experiencing repeated disappointments, you need to examine your dating history. Engage a friend who knows you well to help you take a look at what it is you keep doing that always seems to go wrong. Then create a plan to steer clear of the same kind of date in the future.

Marriage Counseling, Relationship, Couples Counseling

Know the Absolute No-No’s.Anyone who lies to you is out. Just don’t see him again. Even if you feel there’s a strong attraction, you know it’s a bad sign if you catch him lying. You’re in for heartbreak unless you break it off. So do it. Anyone who is cheating on someone else to see you or is living with a previous partner is out. Again, you know this is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, anyone who is addicted to any substance is out. As soon as you find this out, get rid of him Period. Also if he’s mean or manipulative in any way, he’s out. You may want to add to this list of absolute no-no’s according to your values. Make your list and stick to it.

Create a Cautionary Second Chance List.Someone who is habitually late is telling you he’s more important than you are. Consistent lateness is a sign of disrespect. But there could be extenuating circumstances and maybe it’s something he could correct in time. So you might want to be patient if he’s worth it. Someone who’s in financial trouble could be a no-no, but everybody makes mistakes and we’ve all had money problems at some time. If he seems to be responsible in rectifying his financial issues, you may want to hang in there. If he seems self-centered and uninterested in your triumphs and sorrows, you might give him a pass until you understand more fully what’s going on with him.

Give Him a Green Light.Then there are people who are absolutely right because they demonstrate they care about you and your thoughts and feelings. You connect in ways that are more than physical—you have similar values and interests. And you feel that you are on the same page when it comes to wanting a mutually satisfying long-term monogamous relationship.

Adhere to the Most Important Rule: No Sex.Do not have intimate relations until you’ve determined whether this person is a No-No, a Second Chancer, or a Green Light. No exceptions. If you get physically involved with a No-No, your judgment will be clouded and you’ll start your downward cycle all over again.

So be strong, have a plan, and stick to it. You’ll be happier in the long run.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:



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