When blinded by our infatuation (which can last anywhere on average from three months to two years), it's impossible to look at our relationship objectively. We might dwell on their positive attributes at all times and make excuses for them when they behave badly.
We desperately want it to work out and cling to any glimmer of hope that things are heading in the right direction. When something looks like a bad sign, we might ignore it and place even more weight and significance on the good things.
Having an optimistic approach to dating isn't necessarily a bad thing. It only becomes problematic when we can no longer see a situation for what it truly is and recognize when it's time to walk away.
To help us get this clarity, here are five ways to know it's time to move on:
1. Do they like who you are right now?
Do they accept you for who you are, or are they trying to change you? If they're constantly pointing out your flaws and faults, they don't love you for who you are right now. Instead, they make you feel like you're not "good enough" and you become consumed with the desire to prove that you are.
Their validation makes you feel like you're worthy of love. And their disapproval makes you feel like you need to work even harder to be worthy.
You have family and friends in your life who believe you're freaking awesome. Listen to them rather than people who don't truly know you.
2. Do they mistreat you but say they love you?
What are their actions over long periods of time? My grandfather taught me, "Don't pay attention to what people say. Pay attention to what they do."
In my experience, people say a lot depending on their views or emotions at that given time and place.
If they say they love you but don't like spending time with you unless you're doing them favors... they don't value you as much as the loved ones you already have in your life.
Try to look at the entire picture, not just the bits and pieces that align with the outcome you're hoping for.
3. Are you placing effort to convince them to love you more?
You feel like you're the only one trying in the relationship. What happened to meeting each other in the middle?
When my dad and brother married, they said loving and marrying their wives was a very natural progression. They never had to perform for her or try to talk her into anything. The love and respect with their women was mutual and it blossomed naturally.
If you're forcing everything or if you give and give, and they take and take, it's a sign that this isn't the right relationship. Great relationships progress without force. If you find yourself doing things in order to win their love, then they probably aren't the right match for you.
I'm sure there are other people in your life who deeply love you. Can you make better use of your time and energy investing into their lives?
QUIZ: Does He Really Love Me?
4. Do they value your charm and physical beauty more than your character?
Our charm comes in spurts and our physical beauty fades. At the end of the day, are they able to get enough of you? Are you able to get enough of them? That helps us discern "attraction to image" versus "attraction to person."
Our charm comes in spurts and our physical beauty fades. At the end of the day, do they truly "get" you? And do you truly "get" them? Do they see the real you and vice versa? Do you each appreciate who the other one is deep down, beyond the surface exterior? These questions help us discern "attraction to image" versus "attraction to person," so answer them thoughtfully and honestly.
5. Is he or she looking for what's next and better?
If they're always looking for someone they think could be a better fit, or if they don't want to be seen in public with you... that's a clear sign to get out.
You can find a better fit for yourself than someone who treats you bad.
When I stopped asking myself, "Am I good enough for her?" or "Is she good enough for me?" and I instead began asking, "Are we a good fit?" my behavior toward relationships of all kinds changed drastically -- and for the better.
I was in love once and only once, but things didn't work out. Now my attitude is, "Until that comes again, I'll love with my family, my friends, my goals, and my life passions." Adopting this attitude has resulted in my life being much, much richer.
Check out The Mason Jar, a coming of age love story told from the male perspective by James Russell Lingerfelt. The novel helps readers find healing after severed relationships.
The Mason Jar movie is scheduled for pre-production in 2015, and will be directed in the same dramatic and romantic tones as The Notebook (2004) and Pride & Prejudice (2005). Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, or subscribe to his email list for updates.