THE GAME OF LOVE: WHAT’S THERE TO LEARN?
Dating is tough. Time and time again, I hear from clients, friends and family members how hard it is for them to find a healthy, fulfilling, loving and stable relationship. Times have changed, people have WAY more options (thanks tinder), marriage has been pushed back and fear of commitment has sky rocketed!
Yet, everyone seems to be out there looking for that one special person- that is going to come in and be Mr. or Ms. Perfect.
The Bachelor Franchise has built an empire on this fairytale love story that we have dreamed up… Everyone wants the most attractive, successful, rich, adventurous, unique partner they can find.
Except there’s one problem… There is always someone that meets more of our “checklist” available at the swipe of a finger, literally.
As a generation that is use to instant gratification- how can we ever satisfy our growing list of “wants and needs” in a partner?
The reality is we can’t. There is no perfect person out there!
Relationships and love take a lot of work. They take the willingness to communicate, sit through uncomfortable feelings, compromise, vulnerability and most of all- unconditional acceptance and respect towards another person.
There is a quote that resonated with me recently: “It is only in relationships that salvation can be found.”
Our partners are a mirror of us, we fall in love with a person usually through projection of our needs onto them… Over time, the challenges of life unveil that projection and we are left with the raw person rather then the illusion we initially fell for.
This is where the magic happens.
You never meet anyone by accident, every soul we cross paths with is placed in our lives to teach us a lesson, help us grow and reach our highest-self.
Romantic partners tend the be some of the most powerful teachers and bring us important lessons that need to be learned in our human experience.
There really is no energy stronger than that of romantic love.
Every relationship no matter how big or small, is always an opportunity to grow. Someone special to me once said, “time in relationships is insignificant.”
You can go on one date- that changes you forever or be in a relationship for years that stunts your growth.
Both experiences are equally important- but for different reasons.
The universe puts certain people in our lives, when we need them. The good ones and the bad ones- they all are there as part of your journey towards finding unconditional love.
Except the “love” we find at the end isn’t found in another person, it is found within ourselves.
Only once we truly learn to accept, love and honor ourselves can we attract the right partner.
Someone who compliments us… But doesn’t complete us.
And guess what?!
They will be perfectly un-perfect! Just like you. Beautiful!
They will be different than what you thought you wanted, but they will be everything that you need.
They may not meet every single criteria on your list- but their heart will meet yours and they will show up for you, like no one else ever has.
The right person won’t run away from you when things get tough. The fear of loosing you will be stronger then the fear of being hurt. This doesn’t mean that they "won’t be able to live without you.”
It just means that your presence in their life is so valuable that loosing it would be devastating to them because they recognize your worth.
When relationships get tough, most people tend to get scared. Attachment needs get triggered, the ego goes into an uproar and fight-or-flight response takes over.
In these times, it is important not to forget to honor each other, the relationship and remember that: “Nothing good ever comes easy.”
A healthy relationship is created when two people have found true unconditional love for themselves, know what they want/deserve and are willing to work through the difficult times together.
Our culture has this skewed expectation that each partner needs to give 50% for a relationship to work.
That is so wrong.
Each person needs to give 100%, as whole individual, before they can have a healthy relationship; or they will always be projecting, seeking validation and looking to their partner for the self-love they desperately crave.
Here are some lessons I have learned though my own journey of love:
Communicate: *Puts therapist hat on.* Communication is everything in a relationship- if you can’t communicate how you feel, your ship may not be able to endure the rough waters ahead.
Fights, challenges, disagreements and hurt feelings are inevitable in any relationship.
It’s not about IF you will endure a storm but WHEN. The only thing that gets you though that storm is- COMMUNICATION.
John Gottman is a leading researcher in the field of psychotherapy and he can predict with 90% accuracy if a couple will break up- within 15 minutes of watching them interact! How is this possible?! He tracks their communication patterns physically, emotionally and verbally and let’s just say this…. I ain’t getting on a sinking ship, EVER again!
From my own relationship and dating experiences, I have learned that the ability to connect at a deeper level, with respect, compassion, curiosity and the willingness to understand- is the most important quality that I need in a significant other.
Someone may seem perfect for you on paper- but if they don’t have the capacity to tell you how they feel, to be vulnerable or to talk through difficult things… Prepare for a whole lot of frustration, fear and confusion!
Being able to talk about ANYTHING (good or bad), is something that I will never take for granted in a relationship again. I now realized the amount of anxiety I felt in the past, just because I was with people who couldn’t verbalize how they felt or be direct with me.
I know one thing for sure. It hurts WAY more to not know how someone feels… than it does to have someone be honest and direct with you, even if what they have to say is not what you want to hear.
Be Clear: Understand what you need in a partner. Get really honest and clear about what is important to you. You can not manifest the relationship that you want- if you don’t know what it is you are looking for and need.
Write down how you want your relationship to be. How do you want to deal with problems and conflict? What qualities in a person are important to you? How do you want to spend money? What are somethings you can or cant compromise on?
Be brutally honest.
My colleague once taught me a effective method to really get clear on what it is you need in a partner.
Make a list of 5 qualities that you need in a significant other
The top 2 are your non-negotiables
The bottom 3 are important but negotiable
Realize there is no perfect person that will meet 5/5 of your criteria
Write, re-write and refine your list for at least 3-5 months. The list you first come up with will be drastically different then your final list (trust me).
When you find a partner that meets 3/5 on your final list, and you notice yourself getting frustrated with them… Always come back to the list to remind yourself that that you CHOSE them for a reason and that you consciously decided on this person… And yes there are things you have to compromise on!
There is never going to be someone who is 5/5 and if there is... it doesn’t mean you meet the criteria for their list. You could be a 2/5 for them- (sorry but it’s true!)
The magic number is 3/5- so if they meet your top 2 non-negotiables and 1 other important quality are you ok with giving up the other two? (example: if they have trait #1, #2 and #4, but not #3 or #5, would I be satisfied in that relationship?!)
***If not revise your list until you have a clear picture of what your non-negotiables and areas of compromise are.
Get Outside Of Your “Type”: Sometimes what we think we “want”- isn’t what we need. From personal experience, I always was attracted to the bad boy that needed to be saved. I thought that my type of guy was the broken one, covered in tattoos, flashy, spontanous and afraid to let anyone in. That was the relationship that I chose, and continued to chose until I learned the lessons that I was meant to.
The universe will keep putting you in the same situation- until your soul truly learns, accepts and integrates the lesson. Only when that happens, will you finally realize why you kept repeating the same cycle over-and-over again.
Growth is always in the lesson. Life is our classroom and relationships are our tests.
Learn from your pattern. If it isn’t working- try something different. Turns out the type of guy I actually needed was the nerdy, good hearted, humble, stable, opened, kind and driven guy.
***Mom was always right when she said, “date the nerds- they always end up being the biggest catches later in life.” (Thanks Mom!!!)
Just because someone doesn’t met your checklist or isn’t your usual type- don’t write them off!
We live in such an image driven culture that we forget sometimes that love isn’t about how someone looks or how much money they make. It’s about how they show up for you when things get tough, how they communicate, their ability to problem solve, listen and their core values.
Beauty fades. Money comes and goes. Sex drive changes.
A persons character, soul and values don’t.
Stop dating people based on the stuff that doesn’t matter- and give someone new a chance. Take it from Charolette in Sex in The City- you can have the money, the hunk, the perfect wedding and at the end of the day you will just be craving a kind hearted, loving, chubby Harry.
Put The Relationship First: “Bros before hoes, chicks before dicks, he’s so whipped.”
Um…. Hello?! What’s so bad about putting our partners first? That’s what relationships are about!
So many people have a negative perspective on prioritizing their partner or relationship- based on fear of being judged by others.
Well guess what… Your “bros” and “hoes” aren’t the people that will be there when you deal with job changes, death, illness, becoming a parent, transitions and big life changing decisions.
They will be caught up in their own lives and trials.
As we get older, our partners become our best friends. They become the priority and the people we go to in our deepest moments of pain, vulnerability and share our needs with.
There is nothing weak or wrong about that!
The healthiest relationships are the ones where both partners put each other and the relationship first, above anything or anyone else.
Don’t Settle: So many people stay in the wrong relationship out of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of being alone, fear of being unlovable, fear of meeting new people… You name the excuse, it always comes down to fear. Our ego does a great job at convincing us that we are not good enough, unworthy and unlovable.
That is the furthest thing from the truth.
Each and every human being- no matter their net worth, weight, SES, amount of instagram followers or laundry list of mistakes they have made, is worthy of love.
We are all just souls having a human experience- that at times isn’t easy.
Staying in the wrong relationship because you are afraid of the unknown is much more scary in the long run… Imagine spending your whole life with the WRONG person?!
Playing games, staying single, avoiding intimacy and love is also selling yourself short- humans are wired for connection, we all crave acceptance, nurturance, intimacy and a loving embrace (no matter how much of a player you may be).
Denying yourself that basic human need is settling too! Sometime we get hurt when we put ourselves out there… But what is worse? Failing or missing the opportunity all together?
When you live out of fear, you act out of desperation. When you live out of soul, you act out of purpose.
Hopefully some of these lessons help you navigate the battle field that is our modern day dating world!
However, the most important lesson I hope you take from this post, is that true love is never found in the validation from another- only from within… Then it is merely mirrored back through another person, who has found their own inner love.
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.” - A Course In Miracles
So get out there and start filling up your own self-love tank, I promise it will make the game of love much more fun to play…