When it comes to love, I’m no stranger to viewing things through rose-colored glasses. I’ve also been guilty of seeing things through loneliness, vengeful, and fear-driven lenses. From ignoring red flags to starting relationships based on inner issues such as insecurity and the desire to escape aloneness, I’ve seen it all.

After over a decade of dating, I’ve finally found myself in a healthy relationship. I took off my blockers and ended up with a great man. But it didn’t come easily to me. I had to destroy my protective eyewear so that I could see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

This came at a cost. I had to stare myself in the mirror and really ask the hard question: What was I doing wrong? When I did that, it all became clear. I was lonely. I wasn’t happy with myself. And I was settling for guys who could never give me what I deserved based solely on the fact that I couldn’t face myself and my own issues.

My judgment had become so clouded that I found myself falling for people whom, as it turned out, I didn’t actually like. They were clear opposites of what I needed in a partner, but at the time it didn’t matter. They were there and it was good enough. But good enough isn’t great. And if a relationship isn’t great, what’s the point?

A good portion of today’s 21st century relationships aren’t seen through a clear eye. They’re viewed through blue screens and Instagram filters. They’re desired from places in which we refuse to explore. The dark places, the lonely places, the places that our inner child hides to avoid suffering yet another heartbreak. But does viewing relationships from these various spectrums really pay off in the long run? The short answer is no.

When we refuse to acknowledge what our driving factors are, we refuse to attain what it is we need to overcome the relationships that have passed, in turn leaving us with yet another carry-on to lug around with us everywhere we go. Nobody wants the baggage that comes with broken hearts, so why do we continue to add to it? Because ignorance is bliss and avoiding the parts of yourself that will set you free is a whole lot easier than taking off the mask.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t date if you’re lonely or unhappy with certain aspects of yourself. Loneliness and insecurity are things that everyone deals with from time to time. But it cannot be the reason you choose a partner. A cure for your loneliness isn’t any body in the bed next to you, it’s the right one. And if you don’t choose based on your deepest needs, you’ll end up blind all over again.

Choose a partner that you can see as clearly as the sun without getting burned. Choose a partner, not because they make you less lonely, but because they make you feel like you’ll never have to feel lonely again. And choose a partner because they know how to love you. Anything less is just not worth settling for.

Originally published on The Good Men Project.

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