Does true love really exist? The classes I took in university taught me that the media, society, Bollywood and Disney have clouded my mind. Other people sold me the fairytale of true love, but no one taught me how to actually sustain it. After all, doesn’t it always end with “happily ever after”? Whether it’s Sandra Dee and Danny or Simba and Nala, couples everywhere are driving off into the sunset. But what about five years later? What about forty years later? Do people stay happily married or is it just a phase?
I have been diligent in my pursuit of perfecting true love partnership. Here are some key learnings I have uncovered in my journey of healing myself and helping heal others when it comes to love, intimacy, and all that fluffy stuff.
1. Love thyself before you love thy neighbor
This is the number one mistake that men and women make when looking for true love or when trying to sustain it. The error is this: You try to love someone else before learning how to love yourself. The bad news is you will only be able to treat someone else as you treat yourself. So if your relationship is falling apart, or worse, you can’t seem to find the right match, you can begin by looking at how you treat yourself. Are you kind on the inside? Do you take the time you need to make sure your needs are met, whether they be physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual? You have to like you before someone else will like you! And we’re not talking about indulgence. I have had clients who get regular massages, eat right, sleep early when they need to and take regular stretch breaks, and yet when they look in the mirror, the first thing they notice is the thinning hairline or the stray eyebrow hair. Self-care goes beyond just taking care of yourself on the outside. You have to be willing to face and tame your inner critic. You have to be willing to be yourself, with no apologies, and whether anyone is watching or not. When you start falling in love with you, others around you will notice, because you begin to look younger, and seem happier. And as an unexpected bonus, you stop sending out the desperate vibe if you are single, or the unfulfilled vibe if you are with someone. It is much easier for your partner to want you and show you they care if you feel good about who you are. It takes some of the pressure off!
2. Stop comparing
I have had several clients who come to me complaining that “all the good ones are taken”. Every time they see a happy couple, they cringe and whine about how hard it is to be alone or unhappily married. My advice: stop comparing. Your true love is out there, indeed, she may be sleeping with you every night! But if you keep noticing how other people have it so much better, you will miss what you do have. Being single does have it’s perks! And being in a relationship, even if it’s tumultuous, has it’s rewards as well. If you start being thankful for what you do have, you send out a different vibe. You start exuding the energy of contentment rather than it’s opposite, and your true love partner-to-be will notice this. Your spouse may even ask you what’s changed as you start appreciating him for the little things he does. The fastest way to deflate someone is to compare them to someone else. We have all been through it as children, and it hurts. So even if you are comparing in your mind, stop it! It will help things in the long-run.
3. Seek role-models
Many of us fail in love because we have grown up with examples of unhappiness. Whether it was abuse, deadness or divorce, many adults in the love-arena today have some wounded thinking and beliefs about love and relationships. And the more time you spend with someone, the more you get to see their true colours, not just the going-out-Saturday-night-version. The more time you spend with a mate, the more you get to know the parts of them that most other people don’t get to see. Sometimes it will be the tender side, like the look in his eyes right after making love, or the pride in her smile when she achieves a small milestone. Sometimes, it will be the dark side, like how he whines when he’s sick, or how she rages when she’s scared. Seeing the other sides is a natural progression in the relationship, not a problem-point as many people believe. Seek role-models that have a happy, balanced relationship, one you would like to emulate, and talk to them. Ask them about how they handle conflict. Ask them about why it works for them. See, we have to be re-educated. Most of the role-models we had growing up were either one-dimensional characters on a screen or complex human beings who usually didn’t have the luxury of talking about their feelings in a public way. We need new models. They are out there. And if you find yourself surrounded by happy couples that you like spending time with, chances are, you are getting close to the front of the line for true love partnership.
4. Honour your past
Don’t put down your ex’s. See what you can learn from them and move on. When you dis-honour those in your past, you invest your valuable creative energy in a wasteful way. That person came to you at that time in your life because that is who you attracted! After all, you found something in them that compelled you to stay for more than a day or two. So stop blaming them and see it another way. Some of your past loves will have set the bar for you, while others helped you to set boundaries of what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship. Both kinds of ex helped clear the path, so when the true love partner does show up, you will recognize and value them. If you are in a relationship, dishonouring your ex pulls energy away from the relationship and into the past. Just let it be. And resist the temptation to say “You are being just like ______(Insert ex’s name here)______” (Yes, that means even in your mind!) This kind of thinking devalues both the present and your past relationship. Leave the past in the past and focus your energy on taking this relationship to it’s next natural level.
Instead of trying to make someone else out there the perfect partner, my challenge to you is for you to be The One for someone else. What would it take for you to be the perfect partner? What would it take for you to make someone else feel that special, that important, that loveable? Start with doing it for yourself, and you will be amazed at how easy to is to do that for another. And this is not sacrifice. When done with genuine love and keeping your own needs in mind, when you love someone like this, you give them permission to fail, to make mistakes, and in general, to just be human. And who knows, maybe one day they’ll return the favour!