Everyone has to navigate relationships, like it or not. You have a family. You need some amount of social interaction. You have to wQuote_500_faithfreed_06ork with others. Yet, there’s no short cut or cutting edge technology to determine who’s good for you. You’re forced to figure it out the old-fashioned way. Even for those who are intuitive and “people-smart,” it can be tough territory to navigate. Who hasn’t gotten burned at some point, by a lover, a boss, a friend or relative? If relating with others is an inherent joy and challenge of life, why don’t we know better how to do it?

Here are some tips to help you avoid the worst of relationships and find the best of them:

1. Feel: Your gut instinct is the best indicator of someone’s nature. Trust it! There’s a lot of intangible information you can pick up through your senses. When you “get a read” on someone, it’s likely to be surprisingly accurate. Stop and inquire within when you meet a new person. How does your experience of them register on an internal level? What feeling do you get in their presence? It could be positive, neutral, negative or hard to discern. Whatever you feel– even mixed signals– is important information. Let yourself digest the data. When you’re attracted to someone’s energy, that’s a yellow light to proceed.  Why not a green light? Sometimes a strong attraction comes from an unconscious pull towards something familiar; whether that familiar feeling is good for you or not! So proceed with a modicum of caution. There’s a lot that happens when two people collide. How s/he makes you feel is a good indication of whether s/he’s good for you. But it’s not enough.

2.Think: Because there is so much going on under the surface on both sides, it’s wise not to rely solely on feelings to know who’s good for you. If there’s any doubt, engage your mind. Yes, you can trust your gut. At the same time, there are lots of reasons certain feelings may arise. Someone may remind you of a person from your past, or stir up fantasies based on projection. Sexual chemistry can throw off your common sense as well. It’s sobering to learn that people can exude a persona that’s quite likable while having self-serving motives beneath. As your mama warned you, watch out for smooth talkers with seductive good looks and irresistible charm. Anyone can learn how to package themselves, present well and make a good impression. What matters for the long haul is what’s within. Whether there’s congruence between what you see and what you get– only time will tell. Pay attention to clues to one’s character. What do they report about their past relationships? How do they relate to strangers? Are they honest? Empathetic? Or only out for themselves?

3.Wait: As amazingly accurate as your intuition and judgment may be, there’s nothing like the test of time. Ever have someone completely take you by storm, engage intensely and then disappear? Sometimes “fast friends” are gone quickly. You may learn from these experiences that a balanced, measured way of relating is more likely to last. Then again, an enthusiastic start can be the sign of a long-lasting relationship. There are no rules. Every person is unique, and every dyad is cosmically dynamic. Once you’ve honored your inner hunch and factored in common sense, give it a whirl and watch what unfolds. See what kind of rhythm your interaction has. Is it reciprocal? Dependable? Considerate? How about that person’s character? Are they trustworthy? Do they have integrity? Do they embody at least some of your values? Are you enriched by knowing them? Do you like who you are and how you feel in their presence? Before you commit to a partnership of any kind, allow yourself to get to know them over time.

People are like flowers. You can’t pick them all. You can afford to be choosey. You’re worth it. So trust your instincts, keep your wits about you and take your sweet time.