Hi Yana,

I’m no longer satisfied with the type of love I attract. After my most recent heartbreak, and having to face the thought of getting back on the online dating horse, I’m willing to admit that something isn’t working here, and it might be me.

I’m incredibly understanding and non-judgemental, but in the dating world that often leads to me accepting men into my life that may not have theirs totally together. My last relationship was everything I wanted, but he reluctantly ended things to try to pursue greener career pastures in another state. The one before that ghosted after our first vacation together, claiming depression but not really giving any closure I could live with. This is becoming too much of a pattern for me, things are great until suddenly they’re not.

While they all have told me I’m the kindest person they’ve ever met, none have seen enough in me to try to make it last. I like to think I’m not a pushover, communication is everything to me and I make my needs, wants, goals, and expectations incredibly clear. All I want is a partner who’s in it for the long haul.

I hate the thought of turning people down based on career choice or salary bracket, but are those more clear signs of someone who’s got their shit together? Am I just TOO understanding of people’s situations when I should be more harsh with my choices?

(Literally) Hopeless Romantic


Dear Hopeless,

I know plenty of people who don’t have their shit together and also have lots of money (I mean, look at most celebrities). People who have a seemingly balanced life and turns out, do not have their shit together. Or people who have chosen downright valiant careers and still … shit very much apart.

Here’s the thing with our shit  we’ve all got it. We don’t get to choose the shit that we have all the time, but we can choose how we decide to deal with that shit  whether said shit is together or if it’s seriously hit the fan.

But enough with the shit talk. Hopeless, what would it be like if you were in a relationship where someone seemingly didn’t check all the classic boxes of “togetherness” and still, you and they were happy … together? How do you choose (and then keep??) a relationship that truly works for you?

At a young age, we all learn how to relate to the people who matter to us from the people around us. Most importantly, we learn this from our caregivers. As a tiny child, your life quite literally relies on your adult caregivers to clothe, bathe, feed, and protect you. As adaptable little beings, we learn quickly the correlations between what we do and what we get in order to survive (emotionally, spiritually, and physically).

As you grew up, Hopeless, maybe you learned that being welcoming, accepting, and kind were great ways to keep your caregivers happy, attentive, and, well, caring. And you’re probably right! On one level, these are A+ survival skills.

On another level, being understanding, non-judgemental, and accepting all the time might actually not be as conducive to the long-haul relationship you’re hoping for. Though it seems counterintuitive, being sure in yourself enough to call these dudes out on whatever you’ve been typically “accepting about their situations” is a more sure way to a happy LTR.

You ask if you should “be more harsh with your choices” and my answer is yes but also why does it need to be “harsh”? Instead, maybe it could be “more sure with your choices” or “empowered in your choices.” People tend to be more lax in their relational boundaries when they think that maybe they won’t get or don’t deserve what they really need or want if they aren’t.

You can hold high standards for your relationships AND be kind and non-judgmental. You can draw a firm line and not be a jerk to your mate while you do it. That is possible. What is less possible, Hopeless, is being in a relationship that lasts a long time based on the power of your acceptance alone, in which both parties have their shit entirely together, all of the time.

Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, http://www.yanatallonhicks.com.