The majority of us would like to date or even marry the person of our dreams. You may have an idea of what that person may look like, emotional attributes they possess, as well as how you’d spend your future together. As you progress in your dating journey, you will meet many types of people. Some of these romantic interests will be passionate and intense and may eventually break your heart. Conversely, with others, you will be the heart breaker. Unfortunately, for many, when relationships end, a sense of loneliness becomes the foundation for future relationship choices.
After several failed, or devastating heartbreaks, we will often settle for something I call, “Stand-ins.” In other words, a Stand-in is essentially a warm body we date until we find someone that is closer to who we had originally intended to date. The problem with Stand-ins is we intend to casually date them, but because we want to connect with someone so badly, we surprisingly find ourselves attached to them. When this happens, it often turns into a dysfunctional relationship that we never intended to start in the first place. For some, this is a continuous relationship pattern.
There are many times when we can tolerate being single, especially if we are focused at work, with friends or able to channel that energy into something productive. However, those times when we are lonely, we see our friends getting married, or during the holiday season, we often long to be in a relationship. For some, the sense of loneliness or incompleteness may present itself through promiscuity. After the encounter, this drive will be satiated for a time but the loneliness will return. This is a critical time to reflect on what is healthy for you in a relationship and how not to repeat the relationship Stand-in cycle.
Are you able to reflect on a relationship that ended and you told your friends afterwards, “I knew I shouldn’t have dated that person” or, “My gut told me it wasn’t right from the start?” It’s vital we all learn to listen to that instinct. The instinct is always there and often will scream at us to walk away but we often don’t. When we don’t heed its warning, we unknowingly repeat the relationship cycle and become frustrated because we feel all of our relationships end the same. With more reflection, we can recognize when and how that gut instinct alerted us and then figure out what caused us to override the warning.
A good mantra to live by is “the pain of discipline is temporary, but the pain of compromise is permanent.” This means, disciplining yourself to understand and listen to your gut instinct may feel lonely for a season, but knowing you are breaking a relationship pattern will lead towards the person who is right for you. However, the pain of compromising in relationships, by dating Stand-ins, is an endless loop of loneliness, bitterness and heartache. The way to interrupt the dysfunctional relationship pattern is to stop the cycle before you hear the siren call of loneliness.
Your spirit, mind and body always give you clues to what is healthy for you. However, past habits and reactive living often negate your intuition and you repeat the relationship cycle. Don’t let loneliness be the reason for dating someone, especially if they are a Stand-in.
James Miller is a licensed psychotherapist who is known for his weekly iTunes podcasts, YouTube channel, and his Academy where he teaches virtual classes for successful people to simplify and transform their lives. For consultation or for more information visit: www.