Ugh, it happened again! How did I end up locked in the women’s restroom texting “911” to my girlfriend, begging her to fake an emergency to save me from another bad date? Why did I pick the same jerk guy over and over again?

In a moment of pure epiphany, it dawned on me – my relationship radar was broken. I was dating the same type of guy over and over again and expecting different results. Pure dating insanity! My radar kept pointing towards the wrong guys, but I didn’t know how to fix it on my own.

Is Your Ability To Pick Healthy Relationship Prospects Compromised?

To figure out the dating mess I kept repeating like an endless “Groundhog Day,” I knew it was time to take a dating hiatus and call in the professionals – in this case, a skilled counselor and a dating coach. Together, we worked through my childhood and previous relationships and looked at how the past was affecting my present and leading me towards the wrong type of guy. My counselor also challenged me to get emotionally healthy before I dated instead of using dating to feel better about myself. So much for all those rebound dates!

During those dateless days that stretched on like miles (but was only about four or five months in total), I spent a great deal of time reflecting and thinking about my purpose and identity. I knew that to find a good catch, I needed to be a good catch. That meant I needed to move in a focused direction with my life and career instead of drifting and waiting for a guy to rescue me.

With hard work, healing and a renewed energy, I was ready to jump back in the game; but this time, I knew what I was looking for and I was prepared to be intentional.

Know What You Want (And Don’t Want)

One of the most important tools during my dating hiatus was a trusty journal where I wrote down what I hoped and longed for in a future relationship. At first, the list was exhaustive, but eventually I narrowed it down to the most important things. I also created a similar list of traits that I couldn’t live with. After I caught my ex-husband in an affair, honesty and fidelity were definitely top priorities.

Eventually, my list was short but non-negotiable. I realized if I didn’t know exactly who and what I was looking for in a relationship, I couldn’t recognize a good thing if God dropped it right in front of my face. The list forced me to stop holding on to guys who met most but not all of my requirements.

Dating Without Compromise

Personally, I was the girl who kept compromising in the spiritual area. I really wanted a man who would lead me and be as passionate for Christ as I was, but I didn’t meet many men who fit the bill. After an endless parade of men who went to church with me but couldn’t talk about my favorite topics (theology and spirituality), I had to decide if “loving God” was a deal-breaker or a negotiable. My heart said non-negotiable. So when I finally stopped dating the type of guys with rich pockets but spiritual brokenness, my choices became far clearer.

When I met my husband, a pastor, I was slightly terrified. He had everything I wanted, but the idea of being a pastor’s wife was daunting to say the least. But armed with my list, I knew I needed to see where this relationship would go. A few months into dating, I discovered my husband had his own list. I ran home and we read them to each other on the phone. Our top three were identical:

1. Love God with all your heart
2. Desire to be physically active
3. Understand my call to ministry

Boy, was I was relieved that wealth wasn’t even on my list and Tim hadn’t included kids as a deal-breaker on his. Thanks to my work with the counselor, I was finally ready to meet a good man, attract a good man and build a strong relationship that lead us to marriage. I have to believe God knew exactly what he was doing when he paired the two of us up together, but I also know that I needed to get to a point where I knew exactly what I wanted and didn’t want before I could see what a true catch Tim was to me.

If you’re struggling to find a lasting relationship, take time to make a list of your own. Refining your relationship radar helps to ensure you’re headed toward a partnership built on the right things.

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