I know we often want to believe that another person is going to make it all better. A lover would make us happier. A quest for love can become a casual sport or a spiritual journey. Let’s imagine that finding a lifetime partnership is our ultimate goal. Let’s look forward to years and years with our lover. Let’s plan on staying together.
Showing Up For Yourself
First, before you find your beloved, you’ve got to become the beloved of your own life. According to Eva Blake on my recent podcast, you’re relationship with yourself, even sexually, changes your relationship to the world. How are you with self-love? Do you know what you like? Do you give it to yourself from time to time, even when you’re in a relationship? What are the things that make you happy? Can you do them for yourself?
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Finding contentment and happiness while alone is the real ninja trick of finding your next long-term partner. If you are not able to love yourself (with all your flaws and traumas) how do you expect to be able to love someone else, with their flaws and traumas? Once you’ve found the love for yourself, given yourself the time to connect and reroot in your own desires and passions, you can walk back into the world, back into the dating pool, with a better sense of what you are looking for. If you are looking for someone to complete you, or make you happy, you’re going to be disappointed by love and relationships.
First, you show up for yourself. You learn what you love to do in your spare time. You learn what love language you speak and get really good at expressing yourself in the most loving way. You find your weekends alone are spent doing things you love to do, then you begin paying attention to the other people that are also invested in a similar weekend routine. Church? Hiking? Tennis? What are the things that get you excited about live, living, and loving someone else? Find those things. Cultivate those parts of yourself and your heart. And while you are busy making yourself the best person you can be, someone out here in the real world is also going to pay attention and notice your badass self.
Running Towards a Relationship
It is important that you are clear about what kind of relationship you want. If you are running around dating to be dating, with little or no strategy for what you REALLY WANT, you are likely to get a lot of the same BS that has not worked in your past. Do you have a plan? Are you aware of your DEAL KILLERS and your MUST HAVES? What’s the best way to determine a potential partner’s emotional intelligence or sexual intelligence? These are questions you’re going to want to answer for yourself first. Then go seeking a partner who aligns with your truth.
It took me several years and two relationships, after my divorce, to understand what I was looking for. Two essential elements became clear for me once I put myself back out there and risked being in a relationship.
- Expression of affection and love
- Desire to co-create an evolving and flexible long-term relationship
I also learned that my partner needs to love my kids in the same way they love me. If I am excited about a partner, but I hate their kid, or their kid hates me, well, that’s going to put out the fire rather quickly. Love my kids or be gone. In my experience, partners who never had kids (for whatever reason) did not quite understand the core connection with my kids. Of course, your kids are going to be a priority over a new relationship. BUT, when you’re kid is such a priority that you don’t have the time or inclination to include your partner in the parenting/decision making/scheduling process, you are going to miss so much of what is essential in creating a collective WE. The WE of the couple, that includes the kiddos, but is not excluding the new partner in any significant ways.
Stumbling Into a Mismatch
Without a solid self-awareness and a good road map of what you’re looking for in a relationship, you might begin to feel dating (or online dating) is crap. That might be the case, but it’s also a reality that tons of people move on from bad relationships, and find healthy relationships all the time. It takes work. It takes focus. You truly have to know what you are looking for.
If we are casual about dating and relationships, we’re going to keep getting partners who think the same way. Dating and sex are more about entertainment and gratification. What’s in this for me, is the mantra of the hedonistic dater. The serial dater. The same online dating profile you see year after year probably belongs to a person who is less clear about what they want and how to get it. Don’t be that casual dater, that entertainment rather than love, dater.
Resetting Goals and Starting Over
Each time I reach the end of a relationship, I take a timeout to dig into what went wrong. I make new goals and objectives informed by the relationship’s failure. I *think* I am getting better. I imagine, in my current relationship, that the principles I’ve articulated above are mutual and that the adventure ahead is one of continuing our alignments.
Know where you want to go. Look for someone to join you on the journey, not complete you or lead you.
Let’s meet out there, okay?
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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