Karen is 28 years old, single and has never been married. More than anything she wants to be married and have kids. She just can’t seem to find the “right” guy, though, and often seems to end up with men who are just plain bad for her. She doesn’t understand how that happens. She throws her hands up often, asking, “Are there any nice guys out there?”
Next thing you know, Karen meets Bob. Bob’s “great.” He’s fun to hang out with, he can be nice when he wants to be and has a great job. He also… has a temper, loves to party and has cheated on everyone with whom he’s ever been in a serious relationship. The good news, though, according to Karen, is that Bob has seen the error of his ways and wants to cut back on his drinking and start being faithful.
Karen decides to give Bob a chance—after all, he’s “seen the error of his ways.” On their fourth date, Bob has too much to drink and says some stupid things to Karen’s friends. He blows it off, saying he just had too much to drink and it was no big deal. Karen has an uneasy feeling, but continues to date Bob. A couple of weeks later Bob gets angry with Karen for something she says and yells at her. Karen lets it go, thinking it was really her fault since she “didn’t think about how she spoke.” Two weeks later Karen and Bob go out with friends and Karen watches as Bob gets ticked off with the waitress at the bar and aggressively shames her in front of everyone at the table.
Soon Karen realizes this isn’t going to work. Bob obviously has anger issues and she has no interest in getting involved with someone who’s a hot head. She tells Bob she wants to just be friends. They part ways.
Three weeks later, Bob calls Karen and asks her to go away for the weekend—his treat. He says he’s been working on his anger and would love to spend time with her. Karen agrees—after all, she tells herself, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” She convinces herself that giving Bob another chance is the right thing to do. She forgets that she has already given him four months of chances.
The story above is one example out of hundreds of women sabotaging themselves. Women everyday convince themselves to “give the guy another chance.” They minimize behavior that they know in their gut is off. They rationalize poor treatment, defend toxic behavior and excuse unkindness. They bury red flags, train themselves to lower the bar and sabotage any chance of a good life and a great relationship with all these moves. Many of these women then wonder why in the world they always end up in bad relationships with men who act anything but gentlemanly.
If you’re in a situation like the one above or repeatedly in bad relationships, then listen up: These relationship don’t just happen. They don’t just “find” you. You CHOOSE them. You excuse men’s bad behavior and lie to yourself about it. Karen knew going out with Bob again wasn’t in her best interest. But…she didn’t want to be alone. She wants children and as she said, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”
Women, this is your wake up call…I pray that you answer it. Not all men out there are jerks. Not all relationships are terrible. Life doesn’t just “happen.” You are 100% responsible for the life you accept, the life you sabotage and the life you create. Don’t blame your poor relationship on the world, men, God, happenstance, etc. Start being accountable for what you’re creating and STOP sabotaging. Stop lying to yourself. Stop justifying bad behavior and stop complaining that you seem to meet all the losers in the world.
Start raising the bar. Start daring to see what you see and walking away quickly when what you see is toxic. It’s not kind to give someone endless chances—it’s enabling to the men and it’s harmful to you. If you want a great life and a great relationship, then start doing your work to get that. Life doesn’t just happen. You make it happen.
Challenge: Pay attention to all the ways you are sabotaging the very thing you say you want. Start taking steps toward new moves. If you choose to continue making hurtful choices, then own those choices. Don’t pretend they “just happened”.