How To Avoid Dead End Relationships

We’ve all met that one guy who strings us along. And plenty of us have met a nice man who just doesn’t create that spark we’re looking for.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner4 min read
How To Avoid Dead End Relationships

Dating is hard, and it should be. Who you choose to spend your time with matters almost as much as how you spend it.

I like to learn from every experience. Heartache is painful, but once time mends the wounds you can look back and connect the dots to what went wrong. Almost every time something didn’t work out in my past there were signs and clear issues that weren’t addressed, and it led to a dead end. So how do we avoid it, or at least recognize it before we make matters worse?

Honesty Is the Best Policy

First and foremost, you need to be honest with yourself. What do you want and why do you want it? 

Having straightforward goals matters. If you’re not sure what you want, maybe you should enjoy being single for a while. I had it bad for a guy in high school. He was everything I thought I wanted, but I was a virgin and he kept pushing for sex. He dumped me after two and a half months because I wasn’t ready. 

It hurt, but I knew I needed better. I didn’t cave to the pressure and now I’m proud of that. I got used to being single for a while, and it was nice just hanging out with my friends and not worrying about what a boy wanted. 

Then I went through a dating phase where I tested out different kinds of guys. One at a time, of course, but I learned that I get very attached from the start. I didn’t realize it until I dated a few people who just weren’t right and that helped me be more selective.

Being honest about who you are and what you want is difficult, but it’s the simplest way to know if someone is right for you.

You learn a lot about yourself when you set boundaries and follow your goals. I learned what I wanted as every relationship progressed. At the same time, what I wanted changed. 

Sometimes we have an ideal that doesn’t fit our lifestyle, or we fantasize about things men aren’t capable of. I dated a gorgeous Somali immigrant who sang in the choir, loved to dance, played on his high school football team, and was in the ROTC. On paper, he sounded like a dream, but in reality, there was no spark

Setting realistic expectations became just as important as having them. Men were once little boys who felt self-conscious and awkward to be around at some point. Remembering that and giving a guy the opportunity to charm you with a characteristic you didn’t think you’d like makes for a fun journey.

Once You Find the Right One

Once you find the right guy, hanging on to him is a constant effort. And he needs to put in as much work as you do. My ex-husband didn’t know how to love someone on the level that I love. We stuck it out through seven years of marriage. I told myself everything was great because he didn’t abuse me and we rarely fought, but toward the end, things fell apart because he neglected the little things. I didn’t know how much they mattered until I was done. 

I had to start all over again, and it was terrifying. Thankfully, I found the true love of my life. My real husband as I call him. We met on Twitter ‒ something I never intended. He’s far from perfect, but our love and the work we put into our relationship is what keeps us together. 

Trust was the core foundation of our beginning. It takes a lot of trust to meet someone in person after talking online. You don’t know if they’re a serial killer, or if they sent you phony pictures. But even trusting someone you meet in person can be scary. Making yourself vulnerable and being honest about who you are and what you want is difficult. Even so, it’s the simplest way to know if someone is right for you. 

Trust, gratitude, and acts of love will carry you through disagreements and opposing opinions. 

As things bloom, that trust will carry you through disagreements and opposing opinions. So will expressing appreciation for what you have. Words are not enough. They definitely aren’t the only way to express your affection. Small gestures and special moments make it all worthwhile. 

After my divorce and previous dating history, I honestly thought that romance was a fairytale. That men just weren’t capable of being romantic and that it was an unrealistic expectation. Then I met my husband. 

He’s the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met. He has a terrible memory and plenty of faults, but the fact that he massages my feet when I’m stressed or that he enjoys a spontaneous date as much as I do means so much to me. 

Doing new things together is a huge aspect of keeping the flame alive. After a few years, things tone down. The excitement of learning new things about a man is gone when you know him inside and out. If you have kids, it becomes increasingly harder for tender moments alone, but they’re more important than ever. 

The Secret to Longevity

Honestly, the “secret” to a lasting relationship isn’t really a secret. There’s no magic fairy dust that keeps you both starry-eyed. You have to make an effort, together. All the time.   

This means doing everything you can to be kind and friendly with his family and friends. It means being honest when your needs aren’t being met, and checking in with him on how he’s doing. Men aren’t made to emote like women do, so you will need to ask him how he’s feeling about your relationship, no matter how annoying it might seem. 

Be patient and be kind when he does speak up. Know that when things aren’t going well finding solutions together means setting aside pettiness and giving it your all. It means listening and trying to see through his eyes. 

When things aren’t going well, finding solutions together means setting aside pettiness and giving it your all. 

This is when the power of spontaneity really comes in. Breaking away from routines is one of the best ways to bring back that adventurous newness that leads to euphoria. It brings you closer together and reminds you of why you started hanging out in the first place. He might need something more manly, like a monster truck rally date. Even if it’s not your thing, you can enjoy something for him as long as he reciprocates that effort. 

When all else fails, couples counseling exists for a reason. If things get too rough, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit you might need outside help. And be straightforward about why you think it’s necessary.

When divorce was looming over my previous marriage, my sister suggested counseling. I fought the idea for a while but after a few days, I realized it was that or nothing. When I suggested it, I was met with cries of “No!” and he started drinking in the dark. 

That was the true end. I was crushed, but also infuriated that after all the work I put in, after picking up his slack for years, he didn’t love me enough to do everything possible to keep our relationship alive. 

Closing Thoughts

My real husband and I check in with each other. We argue. We get upset. Sometimes we want to walk away, but our love always reminds us that we are better together than apart and we would both do anything to keep it alive. 

You can usually see a dead end coming before you hit it. There are ways to avoid it. You may have to take a bumpier road, but it brings you to a more fulfilling destination. 

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