Dear Harriette: I feel like I am constantly making mistakes in love. I am 23 years old, and I have had a few bad relationships. They started out OK, but every single time, something weird happened. I feel like I stay too long or for the wrong reasons. I make smart decisions in other areas of my life, but in romance, I suck. My friends all say that I am a nice young woman, I have good manners and I am pleasant to be around. I go overboard to make a man feel comfortable, but nothing seems to work. I want to have a relationship as I build my career. Do you have any ideas on what I can do? — Wanting Love
Dear Wanting Love: The best thing you can do for yourself is to figure out what qualities you appreciate in a partner, along with what you think you want in life. You are still young, so I’m sure you don’t have it all figured out yet. But you should have a sense of what you like about a potential companion. Make a written list of things that make you happy. Consider: He makes me laugh. He cares about my feelings. He pays attention to his family. He is helpful. He listens. He has great style. He likes to dance. He doesn’t do drugs. And so on. What is your list?
Now compare your list to the guys you have dated. How do they measure up? Chances are, not so well. This time, when you go out there, go with your list. See if a suitor falls in range of what you value. If so, proceed. If not, don’t go on another date.