how to learn from the pastIt’s amazing how often people repeat the same patterns in relationships, expecting to get different results while using the exact same strategies that led to emotional pain in the past.

You can probably guess how I try to intervene when one of my clients seems to be stuck in one of these repetitive patterns.

It’s easier said than done, but we work to identify a new approach that will leave behind key mistakes.

However, there are times when I do the opposite.

Sometimes I advise my client to continue with the same approach that led to a painful relationship outcome in the past.

Why would I do that?

The answer is quite simple. Sometimes, it’s just not your fault. Sometimes, things got screwed up because you did everything right but the guy you dated was wacky.

Many people forget this. They say things like, “That’s it! I’m done! Relationships just don’t work for me. I’m never going to put my heart out there like that again.”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand! It’s just that while my client is raving about how there is no relationship worth trying again… the face of this guy keeps popping into my mind… and I know the two of them would be perfect together!

But she doesn’t care! The last thing she wants to hear from me at that moment is, “Well, maybe you’re overreacting… because I know this guy…” That’s when I hear the door slam as she storms out of my office.

But the truth is, there are times where you should not change your approach… you just need persistence (with the same approach).

Persistence with the same approach is the way to go when you’re already on the correct path.

A friend of mine told me I had to read a hilarious article he found about the recent retirement of General James Mattis of the US Marine Corps (you may know him as “Mad Dog Mattis” if you follow news of this type).

I found the humor rather odd, and slightly offensive, but I couldn’t help passing on one of his strange quotes that has shown up in the media. It just fits so well with the message I’m trying to send you today.

Mad Dog Mattis was in charge of a lot of the recent military operations in the Middle East. One of the quotes I found in the article was this:

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

And this during a meeting with Iraqi tribal leaders…

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f* with me, I’ll kill you all.”

If I remember right, I think he got in trouble with his boss, General Hagee, for that last one… counseled to choose his words a little more carefully in the future (um…yeah).

But truth be told, I know some women who kind of want to express this basic sentiment before getting into a relationship with a man.

Anyway, the idea is this. In the first quote, mad dog was counseling his soldiers how to interact with Iraqi citizens. Because the Al Qaeda do not wear uniforms, and often rely on sneak attacks (guerrilla warfare), the soldiers need to be wary of everyone.

You want to be polite and professional, but always have a backup plan ready in your mind.

how to learn from the pastWhat does a backup plan mean in the context of relationships? Basically, I’m saying you should stick with a good plan when you know it works, but watch for the telltale signs you’ve learned from the past. Have a plan to exit the relationship quickly if he’s not ready for a mature relationship.

The key to persistence is not sticking with a dead-end relationship. I’m not talking about that kind of persistence in this article. I’m talking about the idea of persisting with a good plan.

Sticking with a good plan means you keep trying, even if you have to quickly sidestep several false starts with guys who just aren’t right for you.

Be polite, be professional, but don’t let anyone get in the way of your persistent pursuit of the one guy you want to spend your life with.

Always on your side,

James

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