You Love Who You Love: How To Choose Your Relationships Wisely
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated October 08, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Kelly L. Burns, MA, LPC, ATR-P
When it comes to love and relationships, there are many different views and beliefs. One of these is that you can't choose who you love. This belief says that you can't help who you end up loving. It makes it sound like you have no control over who you are in love with or your ability to choose who you love. While it may be true that you develop feelings or an attraction for someone without trying to, you still have control over the situation. This belief is one that can keep you stuck in a bad place in life. But, when you decide to take responsibility for your decisions and the relationships that you have, you open the door for much better relationships.
Problems With Believing That "You Love Who You Love"
If you believe that you love who you love, you could be setting yourself up for failure in your relationship in several different ways. The first is that you could end up staying with someone who you shouldn't be with. For example, you might justify staying in an abusive relationship because you think that you can't help loving the person. This can cause you to stay in an unhealthy relationship or even to end up in a situation that is dangerous for you.
Another way that believing you love who you love can ruin your relationship is when you think that you're falling in love with someone who is not your partner. You may use the excuse that you can't help loving that person as the reason why you had an affair.
And lastly, believing that you can't help who you love also means that you have no control over who you don't love. That means if you find yourself in a relationship and the newness wears off, you may think that it's because you don't really love that person. Even though you may want to make the relationship work, you believe that you can't help it. You just don't love them anymore. So, you end the relationship and possibly something that was a really good part of your life.
Take Responsibility For Your Life And Relationships
If you act like you have no control over who you love, you are saying that you have no responsibility for your relationships. That means if you are in a bad relationship, you will believe that it's not your fault because you can't do anything about it.
Tips On How To Choose Your Relationships Wisely
If you want to choose your relationship wisely, one of the first things that you need to do is admit that you have control over who you are in a relationship with. While you may have feelings for some people without even trying, relationships and love aren't just about feelings.
Feelings are usually what makes a relationship work in the beginning, but if you want to have a long-term relationship, you have to have something more than feelings to base your relationship on. This is where choosing to love the other person comes into play. Once you acknowledge to yourself that love is a choice, you can start to work on choosing your relationship wisely.
Know What Your Priorities Are
It's going to be hard to find the right person to be in a relationship with when you don't really know what you're looking for. This is why it's helpful to think about what you really want in a partner. Think about more than what they look like or where they live or other superficial things. Instead, think about what type of character you want them to have. Think about what things are priorities in your life that you want to share with your partner.
Once you know your priorities, you will know what things to look for in another person. If someone comes along that seems all wrong for you, you don't have to choose to be in a relationship with them just because there might be some feelings there. However, remember to be open to opportunity in your life. Just because someone doesn't check off every box that you have on your list doesn't mean that they're not a good person to be in a relationship with. But, make sure that you really know what you're looking for before you start looking.
Avoid Picking Someone Exactly Like You
It can be important to have basic things in common with someone who you want to build a life with, but that doesn't mean that you have to be exactly the same. There is some truth to the saying that opposites attract.
How many successful couples are made up of two people who seem very different, but share similar priorities? For example, one may be a spender and the other is a saver. Or one is spontaneous and the other likes to plan out their day. It can be helpful to have a partner who balances out your weaknesses with their strengths and vice versa.
Avoid Rushing Into Anything
When you're in a new relationship it can be wise to take time to really get to know the other person before making decisions about moving in together or getting married. In time, people will show their true colors. When a relationship first starts, it's perfectly normal for each person to put each other's best foot forward. You work hard to impress the other person and to be what you think that they want. But as time goes on, you start to relax on these efforts.
This is when you will get to see what the other person is really like. As the newness of the relationship wears off, you will start to see their imperfections. At this point, you have a decision to make. You have to decide if you're going to be able to stay in the relationship and accept the person as they are or if you're going to end the relationship.
Avoid Inappropriate Relationships
Science supports that there is something to be said for your gut feelings or intuition. There are times when you "know" that it's not right to be with someone. You may not even know why, and you may want to be with that person, but something in your gut tells you that you shouldn't be in a relationship with that person.
When that happens, follow your natural instincts. Doing so can keep you out of the wrong relationship and keep you open for when the right one comes along.
Pick Someone Who You Could Be Friends With
You have probably heard a story about a couple who started their relationship as just friends. There is something to be said for going this route. You are able to get to know someone and see that you have compatible personalities prior to getting involved. Friendship is an important part of successful relationships. It doesn't matter how attracted you are to someone if you don't enjoy spending time with them.
So, before you start viewing potential partners on how attracted you are to them, look at their inner qualities.
But Don't Forget About Attraction
Being able to be friends with your significant other is important, but that doesn't mean it's not also important to be attracted to them as well. Yes, relationships can work even when there is no attraction if both people choose to love each other. But attraction makes staying in the relationship long term a lot easier and more enjoyable.
What If I'm Already In A Relationship And I'm Not Sure If It's Right?
If you are reading this right now because you are already in a relationship and aren't sure if it should continue, it's time to do some evaluating. You need to determine if this is a good relationship for you to be in and if it makes sense for you to leave.
This process and the results are not going to be the same for everyone. For example, if you have only been dating the person for a few months, your decision process is going to be much different than if you have been married to and built a family with your partner. It will also depend on what the problems are within the relationship. The response of those in an abusive relationship will be different than the response of those who aren't sure they have enough shared priorities with the other person.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
If you need a little help in parsing what you’re gut feeling is saying, the attraction level toward your partner, the shared priorities, and other factors that went into deciding to be in a relationship with your partner, an in-person or online therapist can help. They will guide you as you explore reasons why you decided to be with the person in your life and offer techniques for how to come to a decision about your relationship based on what’s best for you. Sometimes, couples counseling can be of benefit, too.
Finding time to see a therapist can prove challenging even when you know that this might be of great benefit. If this is the case for you, consider online therapy. Evidence shows that online therapy can help people experiencing a range of life’s challenges, including relationship issues. For example, one meta-analysis examined findings from 92 studies (involving a total of 9,764 people who participated in online therapy for various reasons). The meta-analysis found that online therapy is as effective as face-to-face therapy.
If you are trying to decide what to do in your relationshipor if you seem to constantly struggle with finding the right person, talking to a therapist at BetterHelp can help. They can lead you through important questions that will help you determine where your problems are stemming from and what steps you can take to improve your situation. BetterHelp is both affordable and convenient, so you can get started right away about making relationship decisions in your life. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
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