I pick the wrong ones

Join me on Sunday at this GlobeDocs screening.

My ex-boyfriend broke up with me, and it took me years to realize that we weren't meant for each other. He never understood how to be emotionally supportive, and I never learned how to be emotionally vulnerable. We never even said "I love you" during our year-long relationship. To this day, I have still never said "I love you" in a romantic relationship.

A few months after the breakup, I found out he was hooking up with his recently separated manager whom he always told me he was never attracted to. Moral of my story: believe people when they tell you it's not going to work out.

And now? I can barely maintain a healthy relationship with men because I look for the ones I can change. So, how can I know if someone's the one, when I knowingly keep picking the wrong ones?

– Sensing a pattern

First, there is no one. Say that in front of a mirror a dozen times. Maybe two dozen. Say it in the morning and at night. It's a freeing thing to admit, and it makes dating so much easier. It also makes it more romantic. If there's no one, it means you're choosing a person even though there are so many others. You're saying, "I know I can find someone else – but I have decided to be devoted to you."

Second, "I love you" is overrated. Many people might disagree, but I do not believe those three words are the benchmark of intimacy. It's possible to show the feeling in other, just-as-important ways.

Third, I very much agree with your point about believing people when they tell you it's over. In my past relationships, I've been a bargainer; when someone tells me it's not working I'll say, "I can fix it!" But ... sometimes things aren't supposed to be fixed at all. Now you know that when a partner tells you they're done, it's time to walk away. Good for you.

Fourth, you must accept that dating can involve many wrong ones. It's about trial and error, and learning little lessons along the way. You should accept people as they are – why would you date a person if your only goal is to change them?

I know, I know, it's an instinct. But it sounds like you are very self-aware about all of this. You can ask yourself, "Do I want this person as is?" And if the answer is: "No, but I can fix this!," you go back to that mirror and repeat, "There is no one. There is no one." Then you start fresh and look for more.

– Meredith

Readers? How to you break a pattern?