Have you ever been in a store and seen an outfit that you just have to have. It’s sexy, gorgeous, your favorite color… and perfect for the party this weekend. You want to be a knockout! You try it on. It’s not a perfect fit and it’s really not your style. You buy it anyway because this strong feeling makes you do it. You ignore the voice that says “Don’t… it’s not you!”
We all do this. I can’t you tell how many outfits, pieces of jewelry, shoes, and junk I bought impulsively because I thought I wanted them. Only to find out later I was dead wrong.
It isn’t so bad if you can bag up those mistakes and donate them to your favorite charity or sell them at a garage sale. But what if you impulsively pick a person to fall in love with. Like any impulsive attraction, it feels good. We all know the seductive quality of thinking you’re falling in love. You just have to have him. It happens most when you’re lonely… and he’s available. He’s handsome, has a job, money, etc. Oh, and by the way, he has kids from his previous relationship. You brush that off and convince yourself it’ll be fine. You can handle it. You seal the deal and partner up!
You may be lucky enough to grow nicely into this impulsive find and even love him. The very lucky ones adjust to each other, to each other’s kids, exes, and do fine. I assure you, it happens.
But many don’t. Impulsive partnerships often end badly. They can be avoided by honest self-awareness of who you are and what you want. Be a smart shopper! It’s your life… so think about what kind of person you want to be with. Prioritizing your wishes will help you avoid impulsive picks. Be conscious and alert in social situations when temptation is all around. Always ask yourself – what’s right for you, what fits and what doesn’t. Know your strengths and weaknesses, so you don’t set yourself up for failure. With people you’re attracted to and tempted to take it further, do a reality check! Who is he, who are you… and what chance do you have to build a good relationship together. Those questions may stir up concerns that can save you from disaster down the road.
You should be looking for red flags and signs of warnings to stay away. If the list of negatives is too long and the red flags are waving, ask yourself, “Should I pass on this one?” Trust your instincts. Before pledging your love, be honest with yourself… when you still can be. Get some distance. Take your time. Visualize and imagine what it would be like being a stepmom to his kids. Do you know what broke up his first marriage? What is the custody/visitation arrangement with the ex?
You may think this is a whole lot of roadblocks to the natural process of falling in love… and accepting that romantic proposal. You’re right. But this processing is the best tool against impulsive choices. (It’s best, of course, if both people are forthright and honest and willing to ask the tough questions.)
If your feelings for each other are healthy and strong, and if you’re up to the challenges of stepcoupling, you can consciously rather than impulsively make the decision to go for it… and stay in it for the long haul.
Licensed Professional Counselor
For stepcouples who are struggling, I’ll offer some ideas on how to address the issues and questions for both partners to think about. For example, what were you thinking then? And now? How far apart are you? What would it take for both of you to mend the rift? And what are you willing to ask of yourself and of your partner?