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I Don't Know How to Stop Choosing Bad Partners...

...but people keep asking anyways

By Chelsea DelaneyPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
I Don't Know How to Stop Choosing Bad Partners...
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I've had my share of bad boyfriends. There was the guy who screamed at me if I wanted him to leave my apartment too soon after having sex, the guy who always "forgot" his wallet when we went out, the guy who lived in his teenage bedroom at almost 30, and a host of generally unavailable men. Like all of us, I stumbled into the dating world, ill-informed and needy.

For the last ten years however, I've been with someone quite different. He welcomes my changing, celebrates my dreams and insights, and shares his heart. We'll never get married, we don't call each other boyfriend or girlfriend, we don't even live together. We are nowhere near the Rockwell painting that most women are trained to want, and that some genuinely do. Despite all that, my female friends eat our love up like it's the last piece of cake at the party.

They're constantly asking: how do I attract one like that? I find this a super weird question, as it assumes I had a plan to hop off the bad boyfriend carousel and snag him. I didn't. No plan, absolutely zero. I've made a ton of mistakes in the process of growing our love, and yet here it is, this rare rainforest in the desert.

So when someone asked me again this week, I figured what the hell, let's give it a try. Ironically, it was the same day I finally gave up on getting the mold out of my shower. Maybe I'm smarter on this subject than I think, or at least smarter than I am on home repair. Let's ramble on the page and see if I can establish a timeline of how I got to happier with the man in my life.


I had to first give up on the idea that someone else was going to create and care for my life. I would've never admitted that was what I was waiting for, but in hindsight, it totally was for roughly the first 30 years of my life. When that illusion finally shattered, it was deeply liberating and deeply painful. But once it happened, I turned my time, energy, and attention on myself in a way I never had before. It's hard to grow yourself when you're busy trying to snare or fix someone else. Conversely, if you're avoiding yourself, it's really easy to attract people that are projects.

The result of finally getting proactive (or exercising self-care to use the overused parlance) was getting interesting. My life started blooming like gangbusters, and what can I say, good men like gardens.

In the midst of this illusion dying, and my subsequent blooming, I made a couple of really big life choices that had nothing to do with relationships. I said some really enthusiastic yeses and some really definitive no's. With each major yes and no, I feared the unknown, was scared to death that my choices would result in something I was unequipped to deal with.

But what I saw was the absolute opposite. You can say no and walk away from something, and survive it. You can say yes to an adventure that makes little logical sense, and thrive. The more I trusted my yes and my no, the easier it was to walk away from a potential dumpster fire of a relationship, before it even started. As I grew and exercised my emotional core, it also got easier to see who had none, and was just looking to clamp on to mine.

This practice of trusting myself lead me to be a lot more patient. Not just the surface kind of patient, where you're gritting your teeth, but the patience that knows that people and systems move towards balance in the long run. Thus, I stopped needing myself or others to change so fast. I stopped needing things to go my way in order to feel safe, seen, or valued. Granted, some of this is the process of aging, but I can finally say that I am responsible for my growth now, not six months from now, and that I'm not responsible for my partner's growth at all.

He's got his shit that I'm not fond of, but I don't need him to change it in order for me to be me. I will however speak about it way more often, which I think is another factor that pulls a good man towards you. Good partners stay aware of the state of their relationship, so that they can make adjustments as necessary. That can't happen without honesty on both sides, and the honesty is hard to get to without trusting and relying on yourself. If you can 't tell your truth, or listen to someone tell theirs without disintegrating into chaos, it's a red flag friend-o.

As I write this, it occurs to me that the safer I felt, the more fully here I became. Thus, I was finally able to fully engage the world around me--romantic partners, friends, family, co-workers. I developed physical mindfulness practices, I woke up art languages that had been waiting for me, and I finally felt it: I am here. Some of these languages, are ones I share with my love. It is important to have a language apart from words that you can use to say the hard stuff. Sex is available to all of us, though there is widespread lack of knowledge about what makes sex healing and transformative.

Good partners, and wise people in general, sense when we're hiding from them or ourselves. If they don't know why, because you never tell them, they'll only be able to stick around for so long and wait to find out. My beloved waited a while for me to get here, but he would not have waited forever. I now return the favor by waiting for him in his attempts at becoming.

So, there it is, my non-guru, non-psychologist, non-expert opinion on the subject of being in a healthy relationship. It starts with your relationship to yourself. Good luck out there friends!


About the Creator

Chelsea Delaney

Life is weird, write about it, paint about it, dance about it, and sing about it too. Use every language in your arsenal to sculpt the world you want to live in. Writer, educator, artist, and creative midwife--this is what I do.

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