Healthy Relationship Tips from Dr. Callahan

Part of a healthy lifestyle is surrounding yourself with those you love - and feeling worthy of respect and affection. Dr. Michelle Callahan provides tips on identifying how you see yourself, others and establishing healthy dating habits.

Posted on | By Dr. Michelle Callahan

What's Your Type?

I've discovered through my research and work with clients, that most women have been mistyped into one or more dating type categories.  Each type is named in a way to help you remember the dating challenges for that type.  I will introduce you to several dating types, some or all of which might describe how you have behaved in your relationships in the past.  You will understand how living out that dating personality affects the type of men you attract or choose, how you handle conflicts in your relationships, and even what you believe or feel about yourself and your relationships.  As you read through these chapters, inevitably you may find yourself in one or more of the types (many of us fall into more than one of these categories).


What are dating types?

Psychologists use the terms "personality types" or "types" to categorize and explain the patterns that we see in people's behaviors, thoughts and feelings in different situations and over time.  Recognizing and acknowledging the different patterns among the types reveals people's motivations and shows us how to best support our clients in making desired changes to their lives.  These types are often the basis for different types of therapy, coaching, interventions and general good advice.  We use types to not only help us better understand our clients, but to help our clients better understand themselves.  When you take a closer look at your life, you will see that you behave consistently, even under various circumstances.


Your dating type represents how you typically behave in dating situations.  It's like your dating personality.  I believe that your dating type describes how you've behaved, but not who you are.  Many women have had experiences that led them to be mistyped as something they are not.  Bad relationships and difficult life experiences lead women to lose sight of their true character and self-worth.  As a result, they react to their circumstances and become mistyped.  The dating types will help you understand what counterproductive dating habits you've developed over time and will show you what to do about it.


The dating types described in this book are influenced by research in cognitive, behavioral and schema therapy, and research on life and relationship coaching.  Psychologists have discovered that some of your habits in dating and in life in general, are a result of early childhood experiences and long-held beliefs about yourself, and the world around you.  When it comes to dating, I am particularly interested in how certain aspects of our personalities, along with our life experiences, begin to shape our thoughts and feelings and cause us to consistently behave a certain way in romantic situations. 


Sometimes, even though we change dating partners, we handle dating situations the same way over and over again because of who we have become.  Although we have certain habits, tendencies and preferences, we need to be aware of how they are affecting our lives and learn how to adjust those behaviors or be flexible enough to change them when necessary.  What worked in one relationship may not work in another, and because we are such creatures of habit, sometimes we keep on doing the same thing, even when it's obvious that thing isn't working.  Sometimes it's just because we don't know what else to do or any other way to handle things besides doing what we've always done.  I created these dating types to help you recognize your dating patterns, to understand why you act the way you do in dating relationships, and to show you how to change those dating behaviors that are no longer working for you or that don't represent who you are. 


This book is about the difficulties that women face in dating, particularly when they've been mistyped, so the dating types described here focus on women's counterproductive dating behaviors.  There are additional dating types that describe women's healthy personality traits and positive dating behaviors.  In this book, I am trying to help women discover their true dating personalities that are hidden beneath so many counterproductive dating habits.  So, I have purposely chosen to focus on the types that represent our relationship problem areas with the intent to provide helpful and practical solutions.


How You Become Mistyped

No one really teaches you how to have successful relationships or how to date. Instead, you learn as you go, from your successes and your failures.  And when you don't learn, you just keep repeating the same mistakes.  We're going to stop that process right now.  This book will show you that although it takes time, it is possible to transform from someone who was really struggling in relationships into someone who is very savvy, self-aware and successful at navigating all relationship challenges.


We develop and grow into certain types of people partly based on our own genetic predispositions and partly on our experiences with our environment.  So who we become is a result of our genetic makeup and our interactions with everyone and everything.  From your early childhood until now, you may have observed and been taught things that encouraged and supported the development of your dating type.  You have learned lessons about relationships from watching your parents, parent-figures, and other family members.  You have also picked up dating tips from your friends, peers, and the men you have dated.  When you combine that with what you learn from your exposure to television, movies, music, magazines and books, you can see that there are many forces that influence how you behave in relationships and can lead to you become Ms. Typed. 


Even with all these influences, you get to decide who you are going to be and how you are going to behave.  That is true in your life as well as your relationships.  Now a combination of your own natural tendencies, your parents, and our culture may have led you to become Ms. Typed, but ultimately, the kind of woman you want to be today is now up to you.  You don't have to be like your mother, grandmother, best friend, or the star on the cover of a magazine.  In your life, you get to choose what role you want to play and your write your own lines.

Excerpted from Ms. Typed by Dr. Michelle Callahan (c) 2010 Dr. Michelle Callahan. Reprinted by permission of Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.

Article written by Dr. Michelle Callahan
TV host and author.