Sunday, April 13, 2008

How Not to Date Your Ex Again

They say variety is the spice of life, but the truth is that we are all creatures of habit. We always part our hair on the same side, always put the right or left shoe on first, go to the same restaurants and order the same dishes, or even if we go to a different restaurant we still order the same dishes. And, we're attracted to the same type of person. That's why you date your ex over and over again.

"But Becky," you're probably saying to yourself, "I date different kinds of people. The problem is that all my relationships turn out the same."

The reason you continually get the same results is because, although each of the persons you date looks different and has a unique face and body, you're really choosing the same person. If you don't believe me, then play Becky's version of Connect the Dots.

Make a list of the characteristics of the men or women you're attracted to and go out with. Identify the same traits that all your exes possessed. Now connect the dots of their similarities. What's the picture look like? Your ex, I presume.

When you break up with someone, don't you usually promise yourself that you'll never go out with someone like that again? And then what happens? You go out with someone like that again. You date and breakup, and the cycle repeats itself…over and over…and over again.

First I'll tell you why you do that and then I'll give you tips on how to stop repeating that old pattern. We like people who are familiar to us. They always make us feel comfortable. Even though they don't always make us happy, at least we know what to expect. Familiarity provides a sense of predictability.

I know what you're thinking. After breaking up the last time, you promised yourself that you would do dating and relationship differently this time. And you thought you had…until you got the same results. Why do you always get the same results? The reason is because you don't like the unknown - it's too uncomfortable. So you stay in your box (which is your "small" life that you lead) and behave the way you always behave, make the same choices, think the same thoughts, and feel safe (but not happy). Your life is predictable - everything in your life is business as usual. You always know the outcome even though you hope the outcome will be different this time.

How can things be different if you're always the same and you always make the same choices? They can't.

Tips to break old patterns. How to stop dating your ex.
1. Have a different attitude about yourself. Draw a line in the sand about what you will and won't accept in a relationship. Get real clear. Then don't cross that line.
2. Look at your issues. Do some work on yourself so that you can be different in your next relationship. Change your DSOP - dating standard operating procedure. If you're not sure what your issues are or how to deal with them, get some help. Hire a coach. Call 310.394.2647.

3. We all want to be right. Whatever our beliefs are about ourselves and the partners we pick, we want to validate these beliefs and be right. Here's a tip: being right won't get you the kind of relationship you really want unless you totally believe that you deserve a great relationship and that you attract healthy and available partners. If that were your consciousness, you would already be in a great relationship and probably not reading this article.

4. Here's the question to ask yourself: Do you want to be right (that you can't be in a wonderful relationship - based on your dating history and continually dating your ex) or do you want to be in a healthy, fulfilling relationship? You need to get real with yourself.

5. Identify, without romanticizing, "how you were" in your last relationship. Were you happy? What was your behavior like? What didn't work and why are you still the dynamic duo?

6. What were the warning signs and red flags that were there but that you didn't want to see about your ex?

7. Compile a list of your answers from the previous 6 questions. You know what you've already done in your life, now decide - really decide - what you want to do differently and the kind of relationship and partner you do want this time.

8. What characteristics do all your exes have in common? List those that you are attracted to but either don't like or that push your buttons and cause you to be reactive. In other words, which of their characteristics tend to create negative dynamics for you when you're in a relationship with a person who has those traits? What causes the relationship to be dysfunctional?

9. Identify your 5 deal makers - the 5 characteristics that your new boyfriend or girlfriend must have in order to be in a relationship with you. Now list all the deal breakers - those characteristics that your ex(s) had that you didn't like and don't want in your next partner. You can compile the deal breaker list from your answers in #8.

10. Take a risk. Go outside your box. When you meet someone that reminds you of your ex just say "next." When you meet someone who, even in the beginning, brings out all your negative, needy, desperate traits or hits your "this must be my soul mate" button, run the other way.

11. Celebrate your being alone. Remember that being desperate and needy are not very attractive qualities. Wouldn't you rather be with you than to be with someone who makes your crazy? I hope your answer is yes, but if it's no, then get some coaching now and start creating very different and healthy relationships now! Help is here…because I've been there.

When you think or do something differently, you step out of your box and into the unknown. Here's a secret. Magic can only happen when you're out of the box and on the healthy playing field of life.

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