After his 3 year relationship broke, my friend asked me “So which one is more relevant in choosing a partner: feelings or rationality?” One blink and I had to answer “A bit of both.”
Some years ago when I was a bit more naive, I stumbled into a toxic relationship. After one year of struggling and fighting for the “right” for self-determination I terminated the relationship. The disillusionment brought me realization. After all, it’s the definition of disillusionment. He’d been a narcissist. I was gaslighted. I fought as much as I could, but my will to be a better person than I was yesterday, hence, a will to be kind to people, got used for some form of personal gain. Never again; thanks for the lesson.
My studies in psychology did include learning about psychopathic and sociopathic patterns. Not how to see them in front of you, how would you feel if you met one. Theory for once wasn’t good enough.
Now I saw how the game had unravelled and the flags that were right there, too close to see clearly. The flags got distance. With distance came a clearer sight for the bigger picture.
Decisions on feelings alone are like ships without a rudder – you’ll go where the sea takes you. You’ll fall into the patterns that are familiar from childhood or a path that is played out for you by whoever or whatever that’s around you.
I had mixed vulnerability and fear with attraction. I fell in the current that took me back to my childhood where I was not heard. I knew it was not healthy and I had to break free. Find courage for a month and break free, and build up courage, confidence, self-worth, and faith in the future.
Here’s where the bingo comes in.
To choose a partner, a bingo ticket needs to be designed. You choose what properties must be present in the person or in the relationship. To do that, you must know yourself. What did someone do that made you feel awful? What do you tend to do to make yourself feel awful and all the other bad words we don’t want into our lives? What have people been like or done to make you feel safe, secure, happy, jokey-laughy-funny, confident? What activities you want to do in your life?
Each person you consider is a bingo ball set. Not everyone will give you full game. Not even corners or diagonals. It is not realistic to expect your partner to fulfill all your needs, to give you a full game. Hence what you need is to decide what are the corners of your ticket. The cornerstones for a relationship in which you could be happy in. What are the red lines you cannot be healthy if crossed?
The ticket you must design with brain, care, rational thinking.
You wanna dance but this wonderful man who makes you feel secure, listens to you, picks you up after a hard day of work doesn’t dance but you’d love to dance? If dance isn’t your real cornerstone, see how you feel. After standards are set, follow your feelings.
Rationally setting your first filter but making your last decisions with your heart will let you avoid the same traps you may have fallen into before – provided it’s not like Taylor Swifts’s singing “I’m the problem, it’s me”. To have functioning relationships, work on yourself is mandatory.
Common traps to avoid
When the person doesn’t listen to you actively. This means they wouldn’t reflect back to you some things you’ve said to have you confirm whether they understood you right.
When the person speaks most of the time and doesn’t show interest in you via questions. Interest can be shown by “Would you come to this place with me?” but that’s shallow and doesn’t express the interest in who you are as a person.
When the person seeks for your company or answers your messages etc only when it’s convenient or useful for them. Like the infamous Bachelorette drama that unravelled in Estonia. The moment the Lady had no more big TV time appointments coming up where to be seen, Mr Showtime Selfish finished the “relationship”.
When they make fun of you regardless of you saying it’s inappropriate or you’re hurt by it.
When your boundary statements are a cross over their boundaries.
When they don’t apologize if needed but justify.
When their behavior shows any form of lack of responsibility.
When their past lives are out of bounds as a conversation topic.
When you feel fear near them or thinking about them that you can’t explain.
When you feel small near them.
When they claim to know you better than you know yourself and try to prove by analyzing you and you feel that their description couldn’t be more wrong.
When they lie to you continuously (although that’s a hard one to find out).
When they tell you that something is your fault (instead of trying to find out what happened and how it came to be so).
When they tell you your perceptions are wrong or you remember wrong or something didn’t happen (also known as gaslighting).
When they leave you alone on an important day for you.
These are behaviors you may see getting to know them. Some of these can be seen from a distance.
What else would you consider as red run-TF-the-other-way flags?