Where do you find your beloved? Do you exploit online dating apps? Do you attend church? How about Meetup Groups or local interest groups? What about a sport that you love? How is it that we are still so bad at finding, attracting, and attaching to healthy and reliable partners?
Where Is the Beloved?
The easy answer is this: you find the true beloved inside yourself. As you learn to love yourself, in all your warts and wins, you will begin to attract others who are like yourself. Like attracts like, they say. Tennis players (like me) spend a lot of time on the court, and wouldn’t it be fun to be with someone who also loves to play tennis? Yes. But, my approach to finding my partner was never all that refined or focused. I was still trying to figure my own big love, I was still unhappy with my love handles, my career, and my access to money. I wasn’t all that happy, though you’d never know it by my banter and laughter on and off the court.
What I found in my incomplete state was a number of incomplete partners. As I continued to refine my plan (SEE: Single Dad Seeks) and my methods for attracting available and healthy partners, I was falling into relationships with women who met certain criteria of attractiveness and spunk but were not really available or ready for a long-term relationship. A few thoughts on the quest for lasting love.
- Timing is everything
- Self-awareness and self-reliance are not the same things
- Strong single moms often think of partners as “nice to have” but not essential
- Emotional intelligence is SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than sexual chemistry
- Sex is even better after you’ve gotten to know someone and their fitness for a relationship
- Online dating is not evil, but it’s more of a training ground for learning how to get back out there
- Kids complicate relationships
- When a real connection occurs both partners will know it and will be seeking the next opportunity to get together
All of this said you will not find your best partner until you are your best self. For me, I needed the transformation of the previous failures, the lessons, and the rebuilding, in order to find my own inner love and inner strength. I was not ready for my real partner. I still had lessons to learn before I met THE ONE.
Newsflash: There is no ONE.
Building Towards Something Great
All of the relationships in your past will inform and shape your relationships of the future. Parts of yourself that still need work will continue to come up for healing. In order to break the cycle, it is important that you “do the work” on the hard issues that continue to trip you up.
Let me give you an example.
I thought my boundless love could overcome almost any obstacle. Even after my marriage fell apart, despite my optimistic and positive reconnection efforts, I still believed that I could be a big enough, loving enough partner to make any relationship work. Wrong.
My optimistic belief led me into a relationship with an alcoholic. (SEE: The Third Glass) To a sexy-hot relationship with a fractured woman who hinted at suicide as we were breaking up. And to a tennis partner and mom who was so devoted to her kid that our partnership was relegated to 9 pm, after her bed ritual with a 9-year-old. A routine that should have evolved into something less enmeshed after the kid reached 5 or 6.
I firmly believe (as of this moment) that my current relationship is the FIRST healthy relationship I’ve experienced since my divorce. It’s taken me 12 years and 5 previous long-term attempts to match up and commit to a woman who seems equally committed to finding her path alongside me. I wouldn’t have been ready for her five years ago. Our first date would’ve been our only date.
If you’re just fkn around in the dating pool, that’s fine. I was always focused on the goal of finding a lifetime partner. A partner who was willing and able (if the unpredictable nature of love worked out for us) to go the distance. It was the relationship with my second girlfriend who gave me this bit of insight. A dating partner either had long-term potential or not. The moment I discovered a red flag or got the “not for me” vibe, I was outta there. I learned to let go easily. No need to make everything dramatic. It didn’t work out? Fine, move along.
In my aspirations I found my strength to reject sex-positive partners who were not long-term material. I learned to keep my dick in my pants until I really knew this person was really a potential partner. And sure, I did my best to go slow, but I still found myself in untenable partnerships. And here we are. Loss signals a need for a regroup and reset. As I broke up with each of these five women, I spent the time unwinding and disconnecting from the dating process for a bit. It was in these moments of clarity and aloneness that I began to hear some of my deeper needs.
I want the perfect lover.
The perfect lover does not exist.
I must become the perfect lover first.
As I radiate the love I have for myself, I will call in those who are also in the same self-actualization process.
If you want to find a lifetime partner, you’re going to have to do whatever it takes to embrace your own inner loveliness. I’m not saying I’m fully formed and perfect, nor is my partner. I am saying, we’ve done the work to get clear on what we DO want in our partner and what we DON’T WANT.
Are you clear on your needs vs. wants? Do you have some deal-killing red flags? Do you know how to find an emotionally intelligent partner? What are the milestones you have in mind when you begin dating someone?
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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*image: love note from my girlfriend