Human beings tend to make the same mistakes — over and over again — but we can be incredibly slow to recognize what we’re doing to ourselves.
I used to ignore red flags in relationships, at least until it was too late for me to deal with them gracefully. As a result, I made the same sort of mistakes again and again — and I was too blind to realize what I was doing for a very long time.
It’s very rare for me to fall in love. I can count the instances of long-lasting romantic love in my life on one hand — and probably have fingers left over. But when I recognize what I want, it’s easy for me to become blind to a woman’s faults. It’s easy for me to make excuses for her. It’s easy for me to assume her tremendous strengths will eventually overcome the scary weaknesses that lie hidden inside her.
As a result, I’ve put a few women on pedestals — only to find that real flesh-and-blood human beings don’t belong on pedestals — because they’ve disappointed me with weaknesses which I didn’t anticipate. I ignored red flags — because I was oblivious to my blind spots.
About 10 years ago, my blind spots led me to confuse myself. After I backed out of marrying a woman and ended the relationship, I later changed my mind after it was too late. I had no idea why I’d behaved in such a contradictory way, so I spent the next year in therapy with a very good psychologist.
I learned that I’m afraid I’m going to be abandoned by a woman I love. I learned to understand that in the context of the loss of my mother early in my childhood. And I learned that I was pushing away love instead of accepting it.
I learned that I was terrified of receiving the thing which I needed most.
From that experience — and from a year of counseling — I learned two important lessons which I’ll mention here.
First, I learned that the sort of woman I will fall in love with is horribly flawed. Every single time. That’s because I fall in love only with a very specific type of amazing woman whose brilliant qualities can make it seem difficult to notice her flaws. It’s easy to become awed with love and adoration for someone and ignore the very ugly parts underneath.
I learned to see the ugly parts from the beginning — and to decide what can change and what can’t. I met a woman a few years ago who filled a lot of the positive things which I need, but I wasn’t blind to her red flags. I realized she had characteristics that would be fatal flaws in a relationship with me, so I never pursued her. Everything I saw afterward confirmed that I’d been right.
Second, I learned not to run away when the right woman offers me what I need. There has been a part of me in the past which feared I didn’t deserve the sort of woman I want, which had something to do with running away when she wanted me. I determined not to give up on someone unless I’d given her every opportunity — and not to run away when she offered me a chance which scared me.
We all need counseling, for one reason or another.
In our society, we tend to see counseling as something we do to fix an immediate problem or a flaw. In reality, counseling — with the right therapist, which is hard to find — can help you to make a good life something far greater than you dreamed of.
If you were in a serious romantic relationship with someone and that person were unwilling to do counseling with you — just to look at potential problems and make sure the two of you are on the same page — that person is probably afraid of himself or herself. Every relationship I’ve ever been in would’ve been better with counseling. I wish I had known this in the past.
Do you keep making the same mistakes? Have you chosen romantic partners who can’t possibly give you what you need? Are you playing out unconscious patterns from childhood? Are you acting out expectations, either of what you fear you deserve or what someone else thinks is right for you?
We all have our blind spots. We’re far better off if we learn what they are and learn how to compensate, because our blind spots are forcing us to ignore the red flags in life which are bringing us back again and again to the same mistakes.
Most people never have the courage to learn the truth about themselves and make changes. Most keep thinking that if they’ll become a little more successful or make a little more money, they will finally feel loved and appreciated and understood.
That’s because they’re lying to themselves. It’s easier — in the short run — than getting honest with yourself and making a change. In the long run, though, it’s going to cost you everything. It’s going to leave you empty and unhappy when you finally have to slow down and feel the things you hide from yourself.
Do you want to see your blind spots and make a change or would you prefer to just keep repeating the same old pattern?
If you like what your decisions have given you in life, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re like most of us — full of regret about wrong decisions and missed opportunities — maybe it’s time for some serious change.
I made some scary emotional changes 10 years ago — and it’s made all the difference in the world.