Post # 1
If you’ve been in really unhealthy relationships in the past, how do you know whether a new guy is really great, or if it’s just a “normal” (i.e. not abusive/dysfunctional) relationship? How do you separate the individual from the relationship, and determine which you are drawn to? I know that a lot of you ladies have lived through the hell of abuse or unfaithfulness and come out on the other side to be getting married (hopefully to healthy partners! Hah!). How did you know that your current SO was the right person, and not just “healthy enough”, if that makes sense?
Post # 3
The key defining moment for me was super early, surprisingly enough. I had left my abusive Ex about three months before I met the current SO and my daddy died unexpectedly about a month and a half before. I was fed up with men and I honestly didn’t want the SO to really like me (I wasn’t in a very good place, suffice it to say). I knew the SO was going to leave me, I just knew it. Our second “date” was on Thanksgiving, which happened to fall on my daddy’s birthday. My Ex always sent me away when I was upset, it was my first really serious relationship, so I thought this was normal.
SO knew it was my dad’s birthday (Keep in mind, we had had ONE date!) and called to check on me. As soon as he heard me crying, he drove an hour (leaving his family) to spend the evening with me so that I wouldn’t be alone. No other man would have done that for me, ever (even looking back now, a much healthier person, thank god!). SO is very close to his family, so it meant the world and more to me that he didn’t even hesitate.
Post # 4
I established healthy boundaries with the help of my therapist. It is very tricky to break the cycle by yourself without feedback, and you can get yourself caught up in a never ending logic loop of what’s healthy, what’s not and why.
Also, I recommend reading the book, “Adult Children of Abusive Parents” by Steven Farmer if this applies to your repeat abuse. Very insightful.
Post # 5
Good example by @LadyInGreen:
Healthy relationships are really really caring ones. Where the other person cares more about you and your needs than their own (Lol, if you’ve been in an unhealthy relationship, then you can relate that this is something totally DIFFERENT and NEW… think how much you do and care for those YOU LOVE and then that is what “healthy” is supposed to look like). LOVE shouldn’t be walking on egg-shells and being in constant mental turmoil / anguish worrying if your partner is going to be upset with you.
After 20+ Years in a BAD Relationship, and a long drawn out divorce (even more painful than the marriage) I was tapped out. Thought I’d NEVER find LOVE again (and technically that part was true). I was super banged up emotionally… low self esteem, truly thought all men were not to be trusted ever !!
I met my SO when I was out with friends, in an atmosphere where I felt safe. So I was more relaxed… therefore he got to see a “spark” of the real me. The BEFORE ALL THIS CRAP HAPPENED TO ME… ME. He liked that person. So he pursued me, tried to woo me.
In the end, I didn’t FIND LOVE… it FOUND ME !!
Lol, I thought he was cute, but the most I was looking for was a bit of fun. He knew he wanted more… so he began to woo me… (lol I wasn’t very helpful in the beginning… could not figure out WHY anyone would be interested in little old broken me). I had myself convinced that our outings / get-togethers WERE NOT DATES. We became good friends, because we had common interests and a few friends together from our own circles. He made sure I always felt I was included. AND he treated me like a true princess… to this day 6+ Years later he still treats me as good as he did in the beginning.
In the end, it was easy to fall in LOVE with him… despite my trying to protect my heart. I think he figured me out because we are older, and he too had been married before, when you get to our age you can see thru the BS and value what is real. When I say he is “MY BEST FRIEND… and BIGGEST FAN” it is so true. Can’t wait to marry him !!
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@StuporDuck: makes a good point… learning to set boundaries is the first place to start on the road to recovery. I had no idea how much other people (including my Ex) took advantage of me because I didn’t know how to do this (a skill you lose when you are being abused / manipulated)… I was a Doormat to so many people… when that element stops in your life, then healthy relationships are possible. Before that, and you will probably end up in the same cycle.
Post # 6
I also learned to communicate effectively and express my needs more clearly. My Fiance is absolutely wonderful to me, but knowing that I know the signs of an unhealthy relationship and know how to express my needs (without being made to feel needy!) was huge.
Post # 7
@bookworm88: An excellent point. I personally struggle with this. One of Ex’s biggest complaints was that I’m too needy and suffocating. Meanwhile there are still times when SO is scratching his head trying to get it out of me. I find it helpful to go home, sleep on it, write everything down that I’m feeling honestly and it’s much easier to express it to SO. It’s going to be a long road (already has been), but much easier knowing that there’s a lovely, patient man with me.
Post # 8
If I read your question correctly, I think what you’re asking is, how can you tell if your S.O. is THE ONE or just a really great, mentally and emotionally healthy person who is in a healthy relationship with you? Is that correct?
Post # 10
OK. That is what I thought. I just want to say that I think this is SUCH a wise question for you to ask! 🙂
I think that you need to make these two, separate but yet completely interdependent considerations/thresholds as you evaluate your current (and potential future) relationship(s). Clearly, the first and most important threshold for you MUST be: “Is this person emotionally/mentally healthy? Does he treat me well? Do I believe he is fully capable of being in an emotionally/mentally healthy/physically safe relationship with me for a lifetime? IF the answers to EACH of THOSE questions is NOT a resounding “YES,” then you should exit the relationship immediately. No matter how attracted to someone you may ever find yourself, if you cannot answer yes to those foundational questions, you cannot even consider moving on to the next consideraion.
Once a guy would meet these foundational criteria (and there obviously can be/should be even more foundational criteria than those I’ve just listed above), then and only then can you begin to determine whether or not you think he meets any other criteria you may have. This part is likely harder and more subjective, since, obviously, different people have very different value systems in terms of what they view as being vital characteristics essential for their future mates to possess.
I, personally, had a LONG list of essential criteria someone had to meet before I would ever consider him to be “the one.” Not everyone feels this way however. I can only speak from my own, personal perspective. However, I wanted and needed someone with whom I would be spiritually compatible, who loved God more than he loved me; someone who is a person of great character and integrity; someone with whom I would have intellectual compatibility and who is a great communicator with the written and spoken word; someone who is kind, gentle, and tenderhearted; someone who loves children and animals, and people in general; someone who has an extremely strong sense of humor, etc., etc. and, finally, someone to whom I was extremely attracted in all of the ways I would need to be attracted to a future mate.
My Darling Husband was the ONLY man I ever dated who completely blew away every one of my “criteria.” When he (finally!) arrived on the scene, I knew VERY early in the relationshp that he was the one. Making that determination was pretty easy for me. What was NOT so easy, however, was being willing to wait until I was in my mid 40s to finally meet him! lol. 🙂
Post # 11
When I met my fiance, he just genuinely cared about me. Asked me about my day, made me feel wonderful. I had been emotionally battered and here comes this guy who just made me feel special. I always felt special and still do 🙂
Post # 12
i think everyone has a mental list of what they want in a person. as a more mature woman, i have dated many men, i’ve been married before plus had my fair share of long term relationships.
unfortunately, no man is perfect. i was always looking for Mr. Right and ending up with Mr. Right Now.
these “years of men”, as i like to call it, have helped me determerine what traits and characteristics are most important to me as an individual and the priority of each. there are certain things that i want in a man but also certain things that i need, not to mention what i deserve.
all of the men that i have been with had some redeeming quality obviously, or i wouldn’t have been with them. when i found my now husband, he had all of the best qualities of the former men in one gorgeous package. it’s like wierd science. he makes me feel the way i want to feel. he is everything that i need to complete me and overall he is everything that i deserve in a husband.
no, ladies, he’s not perfect but that was on my list too…i still need a little bit of a challenge.
Post # 13
GREAT question! I hate to give the cliche answer, but you just know.
I was in an abusive relationship in my late teens. Physical, verbal… the whole horrible enchilada. There was a lot of back & forth w/codependency, but I finally snapped. I made a deal w/myself that I would never put up w/that b.s. again & I haven’t looked back since!
The next guy I dated was nerdy, friendly, & on a path to success as a physical therapist, but looking back, it’s like we never legitimately clicked, you know? Really became apparent toward the end.
The current Boyfriend or Best Friend is everything I want in a husband & then some. I had been pretty bitter & apprehensive since the first serious relationship, but he brought back the old effervescent me. He is literally the greatest man I have ever met. I realized that I thought the last one was suitable, then I look @ this one & think, “WOW. So *this* is what they mean by ‘You just know.'” There’s no reason you can give yourself for not spending the rest of your life w/the person. No insecurities or doubts… just love & a mutual excitement for the future you’ll build together. 🙂
Post # 14
I was really scared to date after my Ex. I met Fiance and on our first date it went amazing, we actually agreed to go steady by the end of the night. The day after I texted him and broke it off, because I didn’t think I was ready. (Now)FI was upset, and gave me time to think it over. His reaction to me dumping him was a huge turning point for me. I knew that he was respectful of my boundaries.
Basically all he said was:
“Wow, okay, this is sudden. I thought we were on the track to something really great, but I think you’re making the right decision if you don’t feel ready. So message me down the road when you feel like you’re in a better place, and if I’m not seeing anybody we can have another first date.”
I slept on it, felt like a moron, and then called him the day after. I apologized profusely and we went out again. And we’ve been perfect ever since 🙂
But like PP said- you just know. I never imagine being engaged after 4 months, but I didn’t even hesitate to say yes because I knew very shortly that he was “the one.”
Post # 15
I was married to an abusive alcoholic for ten years. It really screwed me up. After a year of not dating after the divorce was final I kinda fell right back into the old habits of looking for excitement but not the right kind. I dated horrible people. Then one day my children asked me, mom when are you gonna date someone worthy of being our dad? It finally hit me that I was back in the pattern of dating men who werent good enough for me. Finally I just stopped and took some more time to figure out myself.
Then after another year I went on a dating site suggested by my friend. I wasnt really looking and so I didnt really communicate with anyone. I did run across a profile of a guy moving to my area who was only looking for friends. So we emailed for about three months, talked about our careers, our respective marriages going down the tubes, our goals for our children and just day to day stuff…I kept him firmly in the friend category and didnt let myself believe for a moment that he was anything more. Then he got here. He didnt know anyone and so I helped him house hunt, and he moved into a rental. One day after a few months of just hanging out and being friends and letting our kids play he looked over at me and said hey I need a house. I said you already have a house. He said this one isnt big enough for my girlfriend and her kids.
It shocked me because I didnt know he had a girlfriend and kids. Turns out it was his way of asking me to be his girlfriend. He said he had started to care about me when were emailing but wanted to wait til we really knew each other before he said something. He bought a house for us. He text me every morning and there isnt a night that doesnt pass before he calls me to say good night and ask me how my day went.
When the kids and I stay over he takes care of everything. His kids have begun to call me mom occassionally and my kids have called him Dad. It was just a natural thing. Sure we have spats, but its healthy and we know at the end of it we love each other.
Post # 16
Anytime I was upset after starting a relationship with Darling Husband, he would never invalidate my feelings or anger. He accepted me the way I was.
Looking back at those ‘early’ days I feel so stupid and guilty for putting him through so much shit cuz I wasn’t properly ready to trust men. I was not ready to be in a relationship in general. But Darling Husband was there through it all. Even when we were not a couple, he was just a ‘friend’ helping me with a car purchase, he was always VERY RESPECTFUL of me and women in general. He was always very consiously sweet. He accepted people the way they were. My ex never did. And because my Darling Husband gave me this respect, I am a better person everyday. He has never asked me to change.