The reality is, many of us aren't lucky enough to meet the right person early on and settle down without having to go through the major ups and downs that can come with dating. Instead, the journey to "The One" can be a struggle, especially when you find yourself in a string of bad relationships. But you know what? That's actually OK. Bad relationships may actually be beneficial in the long-term. Because according to relationship experts, dating the wrong person before you settle down can actually benefit your love life in the best possible way.
"Dating these types — briefly — can help crystallize exactly what you want in a partner," Dr. Laura Deitsch, a licensed clinical professional counselor with Vibrant, tells Bustle. "It can also reduce the importance of things you thought you needed to have in order to be happy."
For instance, who isn't guilty of going after that charming and attractive somebody with a nice place and a good job, but doesn't know how to emotionally connect or even take the time to text you back? According to Deitsch, dating these types can be essential to meeting the right one because they can help put in "black and white terms" what traits are genuinely important and valuable to you. "When you meet that right person, you'll see an amazing difference," she says.
So, here are some types of partners you should have before you settle down and what they ultimately teach you.
1The One Who's All Talk, No Action
As Deitsch says, you can recognize these types as "Smooth Operators." They say all the things you want to hear — like how they'll always have your back or they'll always be there for you when you need them. But in reality, they're never really there for you when you actually need them. It's all talk, no action.
Sure, this may be incredibly frustrating at the time,. but "they teach you to look for someone who follows through on what they say — whether it's joining you for drinks with colleagues or staying in with you when you've had a tough day," Deitsch says. And that can be essential in a long-term partner.
Many of us probably have one or two of these in our dating histories. They reel you in initially, but they can't seem to settle into your relationship. "[T]hese situations usually go south quickly," Deitsch says. "If you stick around, you're in for a joy ride, but it gets less fun the longer you stay."
The good news is, dating the "bad" archetype can help you see that the superficiality can only get you so far. While it can be fun for something casual, these traits are not the best for long-term partners. That's because, Deitsch says, we all crave deeper connections with people who values us as much as they value themselves. And at the end of the day, you deserve that.
3The One Who Doesn't Want To Grow Up
These fun-loving Peter Pan-types are the ones who, according to Deitsch, don't think about their professional and personal futures. They might have a great degree, and check off all your boxes, but they don't have long-term goals beyond what they find entertaining. It's all about what's fun and exciting right now, and change is not something they're looking forward to. They're the types who think adulting is hard and pretty much refuse to do it.
"The lesson you learn from dating this type is that it's no fun being the [parent] in the relationship," she says. "If you continue in this role, you’ll likely get sick of helping them grow up, only for their next partner to reap the benefits of your efforts."
4The One Who Likes To "Live In The Moment"
These are the types who won't discuss anything beyond the present moment. While living in the now isn't necessarily bad, it can get pretty annoying when they never want to discuss future plans (i.e. vacations, meeting family, the future of your relationship, etc.).
"They're flaky, unreliable, and impulsive," Deitsch says. "While the spontaneity is fun, the constant letdown and inability to meet your needs means they have to go." If what you want is a long-term partner, this person can show you that you're ready for someone who wants to build a future with you.
5The One Who Always Takes, But Never Gives
When you're in a relationship with a potentially self-absorbed personality, you learn very quickly that it's always going to be about them. You can be as loving and understanding as you can be, but it's likely never going to resonate with them. And that can be very exhausting emotionally.
"[Self-absorbed] people want the light to always shine on them and it gets very cold and lonely in the shadows," Dr. Linda Miles, psychotherapist and author, tells Bustle. "A healthy relationship is supposed to give us warmth and comfort."
According to Miles, dating selfish types can actually help teach you the importance of self-care. Because they tend to be "takers" in relationships, you'll learn to set healthy boundaries in the future, so you're not always the "giver."
6The One Who Runs Hot And Cold
These are the types who are affectionate with you one week, and then completely cold the next. They're the types who completely shut you out when they're going through something, whether it be work or family-related. But then they may act super into you when everything in their life is flowing smoothly. You never actually feel like you're in a stable relationship because you never know when they're just going to take off.
According to Miles, these types of partners teach you to keep your integrity. In a healthy relationship, one person won't be the sole-focus, she says. "You learn to ask yourself the question of whether your relationship makes your world larger instead of smaller." You also learn not to keep going after someone when they move away from you because it doesn't benefit your life in any way. Besides, chasing people can get pretty exhausting after a while.
7The One Who Always Breaks Their Promise
"The Promiser will leave you with an endless string of failed promises, no matter how sincere their words are," Deitsch says. These types say you're going to meet their parents one weekend, but it never works out. They say they'll try to make more time for the relationship, but they never really do.
When you're dating someone who keeps going back on their word, Deitsch says it's best to just save yourself the heartache. "These types provide the ever-important insight that balance in a relationship is everything."
It's so easy to be hard on yourself for making seemingly poor choices in the love department, but there's really no reason to be. Every mistake brings along the the opportunity to learn and grow. As cheesy as it is, every wrong person you date will somehow lead you to the right one. So don't give up.