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End A Jerk-Streak In 5 Steps

At some point, we've all found ourselves dating a guy who turned out to be a creep. However, if it's been one let-down after another, maybe it's time to detox your dating habits.

Be honest: When you broke up with your last boyfriend, did your friends (a) comfort you with a pint of ice cream; or (b) breathe a sigh of relief and ask what took you so damn long...again?

If your answer is "b," you may be caught up in a frustrating but fairly common phenomenon: amazing chicks who date dudes who don't hold a candle to them. Whether you gravitate toward players who won't commit or couch potatoes with zero ambition, "lame guys will drag you down and ultimately hold you back from happiness," says Debbie Magids, PhD, co-author of All the Good Ones Aren't Taken. Since habits are hard to break, we devised a plan to help you escape the loser trap...for good this time.

Step 1: Go On A Man Diet

It's a smart idea to try a guy detox. "If you don't have time alone, you can't reflect on why the relationship didn't work out," says relationship therapist Deborah Dunn, author of Stupid About Men. "Consequently, you're prone to repeating the same blunders." By swearing off dudes for at least three months,  you'll gain perspective.

Step 2 : Sharpen Your Loser Radar

Of course you didn't go out looking for a lame guy. You may not have noticed his sketchy side, because you were dazzled by his great qualities. "Getting swept away is one of the easiest ways to fall for a loser," says Dunn.

To maintain a certain clarity, you need to take new relationships slowly. For the first month of dating, see the guy only once or twice a week. "After going out a few times, make a list of several positive and negative traits of his," suggests Dunn. "That way, you won"t let yourself ignore his red flags."

Step 3: Score A Reality Check

Wonder why red flags always seem obvious after the fact? In part, it's because you were literally blinded by love. One tactic that can help you see the real deal is by looking at the big picture instead of focusing on the here and now. "Women tend to put too much stock in how a guy acts when he's around just them," says John Van Epp, PhD, author of How To Avoid Falling In Love With A Jerk. "If you pan out, you'll see the relationship more clearly."

Step 4: Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Once you get into the groove of dating a certain type, it can be hard to change. "You're in a rut because it feels familiar and, therefore, natural to be with these men," explains Dunn. To snap out of it, ask friends who have healthy love lives to set you up with a guy whom they think would be a good fit for you. Even if you don't feel a spark, going out with men you probably wouldn't have chosen will steer you away from your old pattern.

Step 5: Summon Your Inner Bitch

Sometimes, you just have to be ruthless. Tell the guy to screw off. Sure, it sucks that this dude didn't work out, but breaking it off will free you up to pursue better options.

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