You have ended a bad relationship, and you are older and wiser. But the question remains: How do you not do that again?
First of all, I hope you are finished beating yourself up. It happens, and to most of us. If you are ready to move on, here are some ways to protect yourself in the future.
1) Know who you are.
We find out about ourselves by having relationships with other people. But we can also develop a relationship with ourselves. Treat yourself with kindness and curiosity. Enjoy spending time with just you. To thine own self be true, and in order to do this, get to know yourself. It will help you for the rest of your life.
2) Understand that you are not a failure if you must end a relationship.
You either break up or you get married, and most of the time you break up. It’s not fun, but neither is marriage half the time! I don’t mean to discourage you from finding your happily ever after, but it’s important to understand the terms from the outset. Hardly anybody finds their true love right away. Be willing to end a relationship if it isn’t right for you. It doesn’t mean anyone is “less than” either. You can end things with integrity and gentleness, and with respect for yourself and the other person.
3) No matter what age you are, ask yourself this question: Would you want this person to be the mother or father of your child?
Would you feel safe leaving a young child in the care of this person? Hmmm…. This question basically addresses the character of the person. If you don’t like that question, think of another one you like better. The point is, if he is getting drunk three times a week, the answer would be no. If she is having a nervous breakdown every other date, the answer is no. If you learned anything from your last bad relationship, it is that there really are some humdingers out there, and they can look just wonderful in the beginning. (If your prospective true love does not pass the acid test, and you decide to proceed anyway, at least you will be going into it with open eyes.) We are all so afraid of judging, we sometimes find it hard to evaluate, which is different. You can bless the person, and even be friends, but that doesn’t mean you have to plight your troth with him/her. And lastly…
4) Take your time.
Don’t be in a hurry. You can’t find out all this stuff in three dates. Well, sometimes you can, but more often than not, it is a process.