Skinny Revisited

Using the language of anorexia to heal

Why You Date Someone

It takes time to figure out if "happily ever after" is even possible.

Dating is a lot of work and can be frustrating at the very least. You meet someone wonderful, or so you think, and you're convinced that they're "the one."   Because things are perfect in the beginning doesn't necessarily mean that you'll live happily ever after, especially when things are not so perfect soon after. Sometimes the problem is that you want the relationship to work so much that you might ignore what you know to be huge red flags. Paying attention during those first months makes the difference between bliss and misery.

At the very least, you need to go through the seasons with someone and really get to know them. Do they get weird in the summer or do they disappear on Valentine's Day? You need to talk and share and disagree to see if life partnership is possible.There are three things necessary for a relationship to have potential.

1-    You need to have chemistry—strong physical attraction,

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2-    You need to connect on a soulful level to be “in love” and

3-    You need to connect on a pragmatic level—shared life goals and values.  Timing matters—you need to be on the same page about your lives. 

Sometimes you settle for a relationship  thinking that one or two of those things are enough because you're tired of dating or your biological clock is ticking really loudly. And sometimes you make excuses for bad behavior.  If he punches holes in walls it's not just because he had a bad day. And if she can't stop buying shoes she never wears it's not because none of them fit.  Pay attention to behavior.  How often you're thinking about monogrammed towels without really paying attention to things that are just not right for you in that relationship.  And neither you nor your love for them will change someone.  What you see is what you get. The key is to see clearly.  

When yet another relationship doesn't work out, you lose hope and feel like you'll never meet “the one."  It has been my experience that if you want a relationship, you'll eventually be in a relationship. The key is to not give up. The ironic thing about dating is that you experience numerous failures before you find your significant other. .Eventually you'll meet that “right” person but until that happens, it can feel counterintuitive since having a series of failed relationships under your belt and then meeting" the one" is generally how it happens. Failed relationship after failed relationship and then a success. Anticipating that can hardly feel promising but that's the way it happens.

I spend countless hours in my work as a therapist helping people process why a relationship did not work. It is tremendously helpful to figure out your own issues, dysfunctions and patterns to learn to adjust your choices, expectations and behaviors in dating. Dating exposes you to idiosyncracies that can be either endearing or just plain maddening. But in recognizing someone's quirks and annoyances and recognizing your own dysfunctional behaviors, you receive the gift of clarity. And the possibility of living happily ever after—quirks, idiosyncracies, manageable dysfunction and all. That's why you date someone.

Maria Baratta, Ph.D.L.C.S.W., is a clinician based in New York. Her book, Skinny Revisited, focuses on the healing of eating disorders.

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