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4 Ways To Avoid Falling For The Wrong Guy

Having trouble finding Mr. Right? Learn to spot a keeper (or loser) right away by following these pointers.

It's really hard to pick out the good guys from the totally wrong ones these days, and we can't help but wonder in frustration if there's anyone single out there we can call our good catch. Even celebrities aren't spared from failure in the romance department, if you just look at the showbiz relationships and marriages that fell apart this year alone.

It's all over the news that Kris Aquino is filing for the annulment of her marriage to James Yap. Sandra Bullock split with husband Jesse James early this year because of the latter's alleged affair with a woman named Michelle "Bombshell" McGee. Just last month, Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria filed for divorce from Tony Parker, also because of an alleged extra-marital affair. Star or average chick, women seem to have a hard time spotting the good guys from the players. “He cheated on me again,” reveals Tessa, 25, on why she broke up with her boyfriend Nat. “I should have known when he told me that he doesn’t completely believe in monogamy! Why do I always fall for the same guy?”

And while hers is an extreme example, plenty of us have wondered, Why didn’t I see that jerk coming?

Some women can’t recognize an unhealthy bond because all they ever saw growing up was bad relationships,” says psychologist Meg J. Rinck, coauthor of Avoiding Mr. Wrong. “Others come to doubt their instincts because they’ve been wrong in the past.” Fear not: These tips will help you score a solid dude. Who knows, you might snag one just in time for the holidays!

1. Review Previous Mistakes

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One easy way to identify warning signs you missed in the past is to reread your old journals and e-mails. “Note specific complaints you made about exes, especially when you were really upset,” says psychologist Bryn C. Collins, author of Emotional Unavailability. “If a new guy inspires similar reactions in you, that’s a huge red flag you’re heading down an unhealthy road.” (Statements like “I can’t believe he did that to me again!” are road maps to guy behavior that sends you over the edge.) If you don’t have any written references, ask a trusted pal to identify a few things your loser exes had in common. (Give her a time limit or you could be there all night.)

2. Monitor Your Thoughts And Behavior

Be honest: Have you ever found yourself thinking, He’ll change, or My friends don’t know him like I do? If so, you may be sweeping potential problems under the rug. “Mental justifications like these are signs that you subconsciously know something’s off but are too attached to face it,” says Collins. Also be on guard if you edit what you tell buds about him. “You exclude details when you know your friends won’t approve,” adds Collins. “But if they wouldn’t, then you shouldn’t approve either.”

3. Update Your Criteria

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Some boyfriend compasses aren’t broken at all—they just need to be recalibrated. In other words, you might be choosing guys based on outdated attitudes from high school (“I want a boyfriend—any boyfriend”) or college (“Cute sex partner, please”). “Instead, you need to consider your current emotional needs and decide what matters to you now,” says Collins. Do you want a guy who gets you? Who makes you laugh? Identify your new relationship requirements and make them non-negotiable from now on.

4. Postpone Sex As Long As Humanly Possible

“Once you’re sexually involved with a guy, you stop seeing him clearly,” says Shirley Bavonese, a family therapist in Michigan. “You rationalize flaws because you’re emotionally invested.” To preserve your objectivity, try not to jump his bones right away. Yes, it’s tough, but it’s important that you get to know him above the covers until you see that he’s a stand-up guy who’s worth your time.

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