Single and looking for love? Dating’s hard enough without the emotional baggage you may be bringing to the table. And when you’re having trouble finding a love connection, it’s all too easy to buy into the destructive myths out there about dating and relationships. That’s why you may want to start by re-assessing your beliefs and expectations about love– especially if you’ve been burned repeatedly or have a poor track record when it comes to dating.
Learning how to keep things in perspective, watch for red flags, and deal with trust issues will put you on the path to finding a loving relationship that lasts.
Obstacles to finding lasting love
Life as a single person offers many rewards, including learning how to build a healthy relationship with yourself. However, if you’re ready to share your life with someone and want to build a lasting, worthwhile relationship, life as a single person can also be very frustrating.
Finding the right romantic partner is often a difficult journey, for several reasons. Perhaps you grew up in a household where there was no role model of a solid, healthy relationship and you doubt that such a thing even exists. Or maybe your dating history consists only of short, abrupt relationships where you or your partner gets bored too soon, and you don’t know how to make a relationship last. You could be attracted to the wrong type of person or keep making the same bad choices over and over, due to an unresolved issue from your past. It’s also possible you’re not putting yourself in the best environments to meet the right person, or that when you do, you don’t feel confident enough to approach someone. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to believe that a healthy romantic relationship for you exists in the future.
It’s also important to recognize that relationships are never perfect and always require lots of work, compromise, and a willingness to resolve conflict in a positive way. To find and build any relationship worth keeping, you may need to start by re-assessing some of your misconceptions about dating and relationships that can prevent you from finding lasting love:
Common Myths About Dating and Looking for Love
” I can only be happy and fulfilled if I’m in a relationship.” or “It’s better to have a bad relationship than no relationship.”
While there are health benefits that come with being in a healthy relationship, many people can be just as happy and fulfilled without being part of a couple. Despite the stigma in some social circles that accompanies being single, it’s important not to enter a relationship just to “fit in.” Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. Nothing is as unhealthy and dispiriting as being in a bad relationship.
” If I don’t feel an instant attraction to someone, it’s not a relationship worth pursuing.”
This is an important myth to dispel, especially if you have a history of making inappropriate choices. Instant sexual attraction and lasting love do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. Emotions can change and deepen over time, and friends sometimes become lovers– if you give those relationships a chance to develop.
” Women have different emotions than men.”
Women and men feel similar things but sometimes express their feelings differently, often according to society’s conventions. But both men and women experience the same core emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, and joy.
” True love is constant.” or “Physical attraction fades over time.”
Love is rarely static, but that doesn’t mean love or physical attraction is doomed to fade over time. As we age, both men and women have fewer sexual hormones, but emotion often influences passion more than hormones, and sexual passion can become stronger over time.
” I’ll be able to change the things I don’t like about someone.”
You can’t change anyone. People only change if and when they want to change.
” I didn’t feel close to my parents, so intimacy is always going to be uncomfortable for me.”
It’s never too late to change any pattern of behavior. Over time, and with enough effort, you can change the way you think, feel, and act.
” Disagreements always create problems in a relationship.”
Conflict doesn’t have to be negative or destructive. With the right resolution skills, conflict can also be an opportunity for growth in a relationship.
Expectations about dating and finding love
When we start looking for a long-term partner or enter into a romantic relationship, many of us do so with a predetermined set of (often unrealistic) expectations– such as how the person should look and behave, how the relationship should progress, and the roles each partner should fulfill. These expectations may be based on your family history, influence of your peer group, your past experiences, or even ideals portrayed in movies and TV shows. However, retaining many of these unrealistic expectations can make any potential partner seem inadequate and any new relationship feel disappointing.
Consider what’s really important when looking for love
What feels right to you?
When looking for lasting love, forget what looks right, forget what you think should be right, and forget what your friends, parents, or other people think is right, and ask yourself: Does the relationship feel right to me?
The first step to finding a suitable partner is to distinguish between what you want and what you need in a partner. Wants are negotiable, needs are not. Wants include the things you think you ‘d like in a partner, including occupation, intellect, and physical attributes such as height, weight, and hair color. Even if certain traits may appear to be crucially important to you at first, over time you’ll often find that you’ve been needlessly limiting your choices. For example, it may be more important, or at least as important, to find someone who is:
Curious rather than extremely intelligent. Curious people tend to grow smarter over time, while those who are bright may languish intellectually if they lack curiosity.
Sensual rather than sexy.
Caring rather than beautiful or handsome.
A little mysterious rather than glamorous.
Humorous rather than wealthy.
From a family with similar values to yours, rather than someone from a specific ethnic or social background.
Needs are different than wants in that needs are those things that matter to you most, such as values, ambitions, or goals in life. These are probably not the things you can find out about a person by eyeing them on the street, reading their profile on a dating site, or sharing a quick cocktail at a bar before last call.
What is a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship is when two people develop a connection based on:
A sense of playfulness/fondness
Source: UW Seattle
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