I’ve made lots of mistakes when it comes to romance. Romance is, after all, based on feelings and feelings are nefarious things; they come and go at whim it seems (often with just a night’s sleep). I have too often focused on the feelings, rather than on what the sensible side of me was telling me to do.

What is so wrong with that?

Romantic feelings are not always based on truth. Especially at the beginning of a relationship. In the beginning, I always try to put my best foot forward. I dress as cool as I can. I make sure that I am well groomed and the nose hairs are trimmed and that I smell freshly showered. I try really hard to make my love interest laugh and I listen to everything she has to say with keen observation. I make sure that most of my good points make it into conversation or are highlighted by our choice of activities over the first few weeks of our relationship. I never highlight my weaknesses. If I admit it, I am trying my best to get her to fall for me before she finds out about my weaknesses, so that when she does, their affect is softened or completely ignored because the feelings she has for me are stronger. I am sure most of my love interests do the same.

Therein lies the problem with completely trusting feelings. Both of us haven’t been completely honest until a few months of the relationship go by. This is when a lot of relationships end. We stop trying so hard to hide our faults, we stop pursuing with the same level of enthusiasm and effort because there is some level of commitment, and the strong feelings of initial attraction and interest have faded (some almost completely) and settled into a more relaxed bond.

Now a person’s personality and choices can be a relationship-breaker. The fact that she smokes might just be too much. Or the fact that every fall her hunting dominates her time and leaves me feeling lonely and depressed for months. Or maybe I find out that I don’t love her rap music as much as I did at first. Or maybe the fact that she doesn’t want me around all the time is an indication that she doesn’t have the same ideas and values about what making a life together means.

All of these things might even be apparent at the beginning of a relationship. I just ignore them. I focus instead on how beautiful she looks or how she makes me feel. And then months later, when her personality and choices are so at odds with mine it weighs so much more than her beauty and those feelings. This is why it is so important for me to listen to my sensible side from the beginning and why I encourage people to think as well as feel when they want to start a relationship.

Doing so can save time, feelings, money and most importantly the consequences of a series of bad decisions. Yes, a little sensibility and reason at the beginning can save a lot.

That is why I recently watched this season’s The Bachelorette with rising shock as Gillian didn’t send Wes home, and sooner rather than later. She knew Wes was a bad boy. She knew he had personal reasons for coming on the show (his music) that had nothing to do with winning her heart. And she was repeatedly told that he had a girlfriend and wasn’t there for the right reasons. Yet, she kept giving him a rose and by it kept showing America that she had at least a spark of hope that she could have something with him.

In her defense, I suppose women find him attractive. He acted like he cared about her. He had a maturity some of the other guys didn’t. He could sing quite well. And they had quite a bit of chemistry at first. But she didn’t send him home until she was forced to. She kept hoping she could have something with him.

She was making her choices based on feelings until forced to make them on reason. She was forced to dig deeper after knowing him only a few weeks, because the show demanded it. She had to choose men to go home at the end of the week regardless if she was ready to or not. At those times, she thought about what she wanted in a man and how they should act and respond and where they were in their life. Based on that reasoning and his responses she finally sent him home.

But what if the show hadn’t forced her to those tough decisions. She would still be dating him, hoping against her sensibility that it would work out. It is a tough war. I know that feelings can be some of the hardest things to resist. But doing so can save so much heartache.

© Seth Crossman