Unfortunately for most of us when it comes to love and relationships we tend to (fail our way) to success. If this were not true I suppose we'd all be married to our high school or college sweethearts!
The reality is most of us initially start pursuing relationships before we have figured out who (we) are! Let alone what we want and need in a mate. There's an evolutionary process that takes place as we mature.
Oftentimes the first boyfriend/girlfriend is during Jr. high or high school. Naturally at that age the "must have list" is fairly basic (cute/hot, cool, and a great sense of humor) is pretty much the requirements for being an ideal mate. The primary focus in our youth is (NOW) not the (future). Who is going to the home coming dance, the basketball/football game, or the prom. Many of us con ourselves into thinking our teenage relationships are "adult relationships" and some even believe they have found their "soul-mate" at age 17!
However with age comes wisdom; or at least we hope so!
Our "must have traits list" should evolve over time. Hopefully at age 28 one is not using the same must have list they had at age 16.
Essentially dating smart means you have figured out who you are and what you want from a mate! No longer are you allowing "coincidence" and "happenstance" to dictate your relationship choices.
That's the equivalent of going shopping without a list!
Odds are you're likely to throw anything in your cart at the last minute. Maturity and self-discipline are required to stick to (your) list.
Each of us (chooses) our own friends, lovers, and spouse.
Know yourself, Love yourself, Trust yourself.
The goal is to find someone who shares your same values, wants the same things for the relationship, naturally agrees with you on how to obtain those things, and last but not least there is a mutual depth of love and desire for one another.
Like attracts like and opposites attract divorce attorneys!
Anyone who is having one bad dating/relationship after another probably needs to re-examine their (mate selection criteria).
The only thing all of your bad relationships have in common is (you).
You are responsible for your own happiness.