Last week we talked about making good decisions…
And this week we’re going to be talking about making bad decisions!
Bad decisions are decisions that have a negative effect on our wellbeing…
Why do we do these things??
Perhaps you, like me, can think of numerous occasions where you made a decision that felt motivated by love…
Only to have it turn out horribly, HORRIBLY wrong.
When it comes to love, it’s really hard to tease out:
- What’s the right thing to do
- What you feel pressured to do
- What your friends are telling you to do
- What your gut is telling you
- What your hormones are telling you
- What your heart is telling you
- What your head is telling you
It’s all so sticky and complicated and messy.
If we could make fewer bad decisions in love, we could save ourselves a WORLD of suffering.
Is there some way we could spot those bad decisions before we go through with them?
As a relationship educator, I think there is.
Why We Make So Many Bad Decisions
The #1 reason we make bad decisions in love is because we weren’t taught enough about love.
No one ever sat us down and talked us through how relationships work, how to spot a healthy relationship, what boundaries are, or how to understand our emotional/sexual drive for connection.
We had to learn about love from observing the world around us, soaking in cultural messages, listening to love songs, watching shows, and talking with our friends.
Unfortunately, those early lessons often guided us wrong.
We were being taught to follow a social script.
We weren’t being taught relationship science.
That’s starting to change.
The Science of Love
Today, we know more than any humans in HISTORY about what makes love last, the biochemical signature of love, and what makes us fall in love.
Much of this knowledge is not more than a few decades old!
Far from stripping the mystery from love, scientific research has revealed love to be even more wonderful than we ever imagined.
Love helps us flourish into our best possible selves.
The love we receive as children and the love we establish in our adult relationships give us a secure base and a safe haven.
Love is both the ground beneath our feet and the launch pad that sends us flying.
But many of the choices we make are not guided by this promise of love.
They’re hijacked by desire, fear, and cognitive fallacies.
Here are 3 ways your decision-making is being led astray… and what you can do about it.
Bad Decision #1:
Mistake Addiction for Love
Why do we fall so hard in the beginning?
Because we’re high—literally.
Falling for someone delivers a boost of feel-good brain chemicals, including dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
It’s like being drunk without a drop of alcohol. It’s like taking MDMA.
No wonder you can’t stop thinking about him. No wonder you crave him and need him so much.
Psychologist Dorothy Tennov refused to call this feeling love.
It wasn’t anything like the blend of intimacy, commitment, and passion that characterized mature love. It was intoxication.
So she called it limerance.
When you’re high on limerance, you don’t make good decisions…
Any more than someone who’s addicted to drugs or alcohol makes good decisions.
You assume that the intense pleasure you feel is a sign you’re meant to be together, rather than a predictable neurochemical response.
Just because a man makes you feel high doesn’t mean there’s any love there.
Love is a choice revealed in our behavior. Limerance is an addictive feeling.
Pay attention to a man’s commitment to you over time. Pay attention to how he treats you. Pay attention to whether he prioritizes your wellbeing.
Those are signs of love.
Bad Decision #2:
Mistake Fear for Preparation
So many of our bad decisions in love stem from fear.
We anticipate the worst.
We anticipate being alone forever. We anticipate rejection and embarrassment.
We’ll do anything to avoid loss.
So we stay quiet. We think positive thoughts. We hope for the best.
The fear of an unknown future leads us to stifle our truth. We don’t want to risk his disapproval. We don’t want the discomfort of a difficult conversation. We’re terrified of what he’ll do if we say the wrong thing.
Love is a high stakes endeavor. What’s at stake is your sense of yourself as lovable.
What if he doesn’t find you attractive?
What if he gets to know the “real you” and says “no thanks”?
What if he tells you that the “real you” is unpleasant and no one will want you?
The worst does happen sometimes, and we need to be prepared.
He may not love us. He may not want to be with us. He may break it off.
When that happens, will we die?
Will it rip our heart to shreds and shatter any hope of loving again?
Every single woman needs to believe in the strength and resilience of her heart.
Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t invest in the myth of your fragility.
Bad Decision #3:
Mistake “Sunk Costs” for Investment
Not being able to leave a relationship is one of the most costly errors we can make.
No one likes to give up. No one wants to lose.
We believe there’s always hope. Maybe if we just tried harder. Maybe if we just tried something different.
Economic theory teaches us that we would rather sink resources into something we already have—even if it’s a lost cause—than cut our losses and redirect our energy into finding something new.
This is called the “sunk cost fallacy.”
It’s why people sink even more time and energy into a relationship that’s clearly floundering.
They think, “He may be grumpy and rude and a jerk sometimes, but he’s mine.”
When someone is ours, we value them more highly.
We would rather keep what we already have, even if it’s not what we wanted, than risk not having anyone.
Unfortunately, life is long.
Pouring your heart and soul into a relationship that’s never going to work out is worse for your long-term future than letting him go and accepting the idea that you may be on your own for a while.
Don’t keep sinking good after bad.
Invest in relationships that will continue to enrich your life.
The more supported you feel in your everyday life, the stronger you’ll be when it comes to your love life.