It’s February, which means people everywhere are judging themselves mercilessly based on the quality, or lack thereof, of their romantic partnership. It is the time of year when Relationship Experts like me get an influx of calls wanting to know why, in all truth, does love suck.
Happily, love isn’t always a bummer, and it doesn’t have to be the elusive Yeti we something think it is. There are a few things I guide my clients to focus on that can help sprinkle a little love mojo into their lives. Granted, actually doing those things might be challenging and require a bit of help to get comfortable with. But nevertheless, when you break down what actually needs to happen to open the doors to the grand hallway of love, it’s pretty simple.
Let your guard down: You can’t shield yourself from potential heartache and expect to find love. That’s like reading a George R. R. Martin novel and expecting a happy ending. The two are oft incompatible. See, the universe favors risk, and so you have to hazard the hurt to get the love. So you go into a potential love relationship expecting it to be the earth-shattering thing love is supposed to be. Be ready and willing to allow a person to impact your life in a way that could tear it to pieces (but in a good way), and that can only happen if you lose the defenses. Now obviously, being slightly armed in who we let have a place in our lives isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, allowing everyone access to our innermost thoughts and feelings isn’t a healthy way to maintain one’s identity. But as soon as you think a relationship has potential, as soon as you find yourself thinking “maybe,” you lower the defenses. You go for it.
Be you, and only you: Great love at its core simply means people are a good match for one another. But the only way that can actually happen is if you put down the charade of who you think you should be, and just be who you are. Cut the crap. Look, there's no better time to see if you’re compatible with someone than at the beginning of a relationship, because there’s simply no place in a great love for some big reveal that can (and usually will) disappoint. It’s like those cool trippy monsters in Scooby-Doo who pull of their mask and we find out it’s actually just lame ol’ Mister Johnson holding some grudge. The trouble is, we all tend to be on our best behavior at the start of something new. I read all the time about people not letting their “crazy” show. But all too often, this just means letting the other person down later when they find out you aren’t who they thought you were. So at the first inkling that the relationship might become something, lay it all out on the line. Be bold and unapologetic about who you are. So if the person stays, you know they love you for you. And since there’s no one else in the world quite like you, you know you’ve got something special.
Know what you want: Unless you’re a psychopath, nobody likes rejection. It stings like the dickens and it forces us to self- reflect and ask the horrible question, “What’s wrong with me?” But rejection is often times the result of two people who are surface-level compatible who then have that compatibility challenged under the weight of some key element one or both people realize they needed. By the by, this not knowing thing is why I encourage people to wait until their late 20’s before even thinking of tying the knot, but that musing is for another day. So before you even enter into a proper relationship, before the “this isn’t working out” becomes a crushing boulder that takes 6 months to mend from, make a list of the "must-haves." List out the things that you feel strongly should be in a partner, such as he must be a non-smoker, they can never raise their voice when angry, or she must be able to juggle 4 lobsters and a chainsaw. This list can be as long or short as you feel necessary, but I’d focus on 3 – 5 absolutely necessary things. And then when you start dating someone, focus on seeing if they meet the stuff on that list. Everything else that comes along with a potential mate is up for compromise, that compromise is based on the acceptance that no single person can meet every single need that you have, and that’s ok. But those core things, those should be your deal makers. Those are the indicators that you might at least give this person a shot, or let them go now before you end up hurting later.
I get I make all this sound easy, yet for some people, anyone (or even all) of these is super hard due to a variety of reasons. And if you’re one of those people who think so, seek out someone like me to help. Because even if romance isn’t in the cards, the above stuff can help make you a healthier, happier person. And that kind of self-love is better than anything you’re going to get from anybody else.
So take a deep breath. Make your list. And ready yourself for giving it a shot. Because love is a great thing, and because you, yes you, deserve it.