Dear Chump Lady,
Do you have any advice on how to fix a broken picker?
I’m nowhere near ready to date yet. Not even close. But in all that I read, the message is very clear: chumps should go out, find a life, enjoy and grow ourselves. And this clearly will take some time. I’m okay with that. But what I’m not sure about is whether having a full life is enough to actually fix our bad bias when it comes to choosing a partner. I worry that no matter how happy I am with life, I’ll still avoid the good guys and be lured in by the enchanting dark temptation of the disordered.
I want to fix my picker. Any advice warmly welcomed.
This is a big topic, but I’ll hit the highlights and I hope Chump Nation will fill in with their experiences too. Fixing your picker really just comes down to fixing yourself and learning to have better boundaries.
Fact is, freaks are out there. I can’t give you a 100 percent guarantee that your life will never intersect with another disordered freak. You don’t control that, but what you do control is YOU. Where you were once a chump, now you’re mighty. Where you once ate shit sandwiches, now you know what a deal breaker is. Where you once spackled and tolerated abuse, now you know how to enforce a boundary — and what happens when you do not. (More abuse.) Moreover, you know that you’ve survived infidelity. You stared that motherfucker down and you won.
This is powerful knowledge that you take forward with you.
So you want to “fix your picker”?
A) Start small. Forget finding the love of your life right now and dating. Look at your circle of friends. Are you being a chump with them too? Are you keeping Switzerland jerks in your life who are neutral about infidelity or your ex? Are you eating shit sandwiches of “shared history” and tolerating disrespect? Jettison crappy people from your life. Cherish the people who show up, who reciprocate, who get you, and bring out your best self. When you master friendship and keep healthy people in your life, and you know how to be a friend? Then I grant you permission to date.
The best relationships aren’t based on just lust or status, they’re based on shared values. Think of a relationship as a very long conversation. Can you sustain interest in this person and they in you? You want a partner you wouldn’t mind being trapped in a small room with for the next 30 years.
B) Know what you want. It’s okay to want the dream — a loving, committed partner who cherishes you. There is nothing wrong with you for wanting that. Not one damn thing. I swear we’re all afraid to own up to this, like it’s a flaw, like people will sniff the neediness out on us or something. I mean, WTF with the “hook up” generation? If you don’t want to be a friend with benefits, DON’T BE. No judgment on FWBs, a person needs to get laid sometimes, I get it. But never confuse this with a relationship. It’s okay to hold out for the real deal and dump people who don’t measure up.
If someone keeps you around as an option and you want their full attention? Quit wasting your time. DUMP.
If after ages and ages of dating, this person can’t “define the relationship” — let me define it for you — it’s dead. You’re kibbles. Go find a real monkey.
Healthy relationships build organically and slowly. (Only the disordered instantly Love You!) But they move in the direction of increasing intimacy and connection. If your relationship is going in circles and you’re getting mixed messages? Mixed messages are actually a message that say “DUMP ME.”
C) Know what you want, but don’t want it so bad that you’ll tolerate crap. It’s okay to want the dream — a loving, committed partner who cherishes you. It’s not okay to accept shit thinking your abject humility and unconditional understanding will make it happen.
If it’s not happening? Dream a new dream.
D) Look for reciprocity. The best indication I can give you that you’re in a healthy relationship is that the other person wants to DO for you. Effort is sexy. Good people remember what you said and care how you feel. If you do for them, they want to do for you. There is no scorecard, no begrudging attitude, and no snark about your vulnerabilities. Good people are open for relationships and they communicate that with interest and availability. Pay attention.
E) Avoid the sparkly. If you like Bad Boys and Girls, that’s on you. Other people do not confer sparkle status on you. They don’t complete you. Quit being a kibble dispenser and start being your own person. If you need the extra frisson of dangerous sparkles to be coupled, examine that. Do you like the adrenaline rush of the pick me dance? Do you thrill to the competition? Do you have a little latent narcissism yourself? (The sparkly person LIKES me! I am MAGNIFICENT to be in their circle!) Stand up for who you are. If you aren’t anyone and are just a inchoate blob of potential — go be something. Then real people will be attracted to you for YOU. Not for what you can do for them, buy them, or kibble dispense at them.
And chumps, that’s all you want really — real people, not fakes. When you’re authentic (a steady diet of chumpy shit sandwiches does not make you authentic, it makes you resentful and phony), then you’re ready to be a healthy partner and friend.
Get out there, Caroline!
This column ran previously, but hey, we all need a picker primer.