How do I find my life partner?
When will true love strike?
What can I do so I don’t spend my life alone?
These are some of the many questions people write in about after reading my blog.
While I’m touched that most people would think I’m qualified to answer such questions, I’m also a little bewildered.
I could tell you what doesn’t work in a relationship and how my marriage failed.
I can tell you how love can fizzle out.
I can tell you about lost love. Shattered love. Painful love.
But true love?
Asking me for love and relationship advice is like asking Jay Z how to live the simple life.
Or Donald Trump for hair advice.
It’s inquiring Lance Armstrong about how to win the Tour de France clean. Ouch!
I don’t know the answers and am by no means an expert on the subject.
What I can tell you though, is that this post is based on personal experiences, conversations with married friends and couples, and insight from dating Casanovas.
And having read plenty of magazine articles and books on the subject of love and relationships, I know when the advice doesn’t resonate or is just plain wrong.
See, at Cosmo and Glamour, they solicit your attention through steamy and provocative articles meant to arouse and entertain. And designed to get you to buy their magazine!
Over here, I try to dispense practical and common sense advice (I guess now I know why you’re reading this completely free while those slick glossies charge $10 bucks an issue).
Anyhoo…love may be a knocking so let’s get straight to it. Here’s a practical no-nonsense guide to finding your life partner.
1) The secret about true love that will bring you back to reality.
I hate to break the news to you, but true love doesn’t exist.
In the book, Marry Him; The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, author Lori Gottlieb cites biological anthropologist Helen Fisher’s studies on the physiology of romantic love.
“She found that when you feel that strong chemistry with someone, the brain system that becomes activated is the reward system, which is what also lights up when you reach for a piece of chocolate or cigarette or an amphetamine.” Gottlieb writes.
Fisher’s research shows with all the dopamine floating around, it’s hard to realize that you’re simply experiencing a chemical state which can last anywhere from 18 months to 3 years.
“Fisher isn’t saying that chemistry isn’t important. It’s just that it helps to know that it might take time to develop.” Gottlieb writes.
To start looking for true love, know that you might be looking for compatibility – someone who you can grow with, a partner and a friend.
If you change your mindset about love, you’ll quickly let go of tingling love notions, passionate romances and breath-taking chance meetings.
While chemistry will cause your heart to flutter, compatibility will make for a meaningful lifetime relationship.
2) The more of these you have in common, the more compatible you will be.
I wanted to carve out this section on mindset to encourage you to be conscious of your mindset. Being more aware of this concept could change your entire approach towards dating and relationships.
Even those who are looking at the prospects of arranged marriages can use this tool to determine if the person being introduced to them is the right person for them.
Life coach, Tim Brownson, talks a lot about value systems in life. You can use a set of values to determine what makes you happy. Once you are clear on your values, then you can be uber-clear on your priorities.
Not only are values important to your life and your goals, but I’ve now come to believe this values-based approach can apply to every single area of your life, including relationships.
Determine what your core values in life are, ideally your top 3 or 4.
Do you value freedom the most? Do you value family? Independence? Love? Justice? Spirituality? Faith? Freedom? Compassion? Humility? Adventure? Loyalty?
Figure out what values you’re seeking for in a partner.
And I’m not talking about qualities like, “tall, hot and handsome.” Or someone who looks like Matthew Mcconaughey, Piercce Brosnan or George Clooney.
Or even qualities like, “I’m looking for someone who likes to water paint in the nude, rocks Bikram yoga or delights in gluten-free restaurants.” While you can consider shared interests and preferences (see my tips below), I’ve become a big proponent of a values based mindset to finding true love.
And the best part about this is that you get to do this now before going back out into the dating world. Doing this ahead of time and sober, allows you to be more conscious about your priorities, values and ideal life partner.
And yes, you can pick up Tim’s book here to understand your values and determine the values you’re looking for in a partner.
3) Too good to be true or good enough?
Often, and especially when you’re younger in life, you tend to have improbable expectations and a long list of traits you desire in your partner. But sometimes almost always “good enough” is all you need, which is exactly the journey author Lori Gottlieb had, as she’s written about in, Marry Him; The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.
Dr. Michael Broder, a psychologist Gotlieb talks to, had this to say: “‘I hear all the time, ‘If I can’t have a guy who is this, that or the other thing, I’d rather be alone,’ he told me. So I say, ‘Okay, but be prepared to get your second choice. Because with that sense of entitlement, that’s what you’ll probably get: being alone’”.
Dr. Broder believes many people bring a sense of entitlement to dating, including the desire to be adored in a ‘fantasy’ way. People seem to be “looking for an idealized spiritual union instead of a realistic marital partnership.”
So, let’s cut out the fantasies, starry-eyed expectations and 200-item checklists. (That’s what my friend Janet did here.)
Humans are imperfect, have shortcomings in different areas of their lives and make mistakes. Shocker! If you reduced the expectations, even cutting them down by half or a third, more people would become appealing to you.
4) Sailing to the same destination?
In Marry Him, the author relates the advice of matchmaker Lisa Clampitt, who matches people like this: “Number one, I look at whether two people have common relationship goals. Number two, I look at values…”
The notion of a relationship goal in regards to your relationship is important. You have to know for yourself if you want kids, if you plan to stay at home or be the bread-winner.
Having a general idea of your relationship goals will help you find someone who shares those goals with you.
Talking about this in the initial rendezvous can avoid future misunderstandings and conflict.
5) The person who can truly complete you.
Never go into a relationship needing to feel whole, fulfilled or complete.
If you think that someone else will make you happy, you probably still believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and Cinderella.
If you’re over the age of 8, however, you know you can’t compensate for your happiness with or through someone else.
If you’re feeling needy, broken or incomplete, let me suggest an afternoon rerun of Dr. Phil or visiting a good therapist, instead of getting yourself a man!
A partner cannot make you happy, complete you, erase 20 years of trauma, or turn you into Wonder Woman.
You can do that.
Before you go out seeking for someone else to fix or heal you, take on the task yourself: get therapy if necessary, start on your path to self-improvement, start a mindfulness practice so you’re more in tune with yourself.
Set out to make changes and transform areas of your life that need work.
No matter how much Enrique Iglesias wants to take your pain away and be your hero, you can’t find salvation in another person.
You have to be the hero of your own life.
6) Wanted: The Real You
If you’re putting on airs about yourself, trying to be someone you’re not and playing the role of a confident, loving and down to earth person when you’re not – stop!
You have to start from where you are.
Don’t get caught up with how other couples you know are doing, compare yourself to your friends vacationing in the Bahamas or dress like you’re a Paris runway model. Unless, of course, you are a Paris runway model.
Allow spiritual practices to get to your core. Move away from materialism, superficiality and frivolous pleasures for more meaning and purpose.
Once you stop living your life like a reality TV star and go within, you’ll come to a better understanding of who you are. Now, make improvements and nurture the real you.
Let go of a lifetime of customization and being shaped by society. Be your own authentic self: the person underneath the baggage who lost their identity over the years.
7) Raise the roof. Ok, how about your vibrations?
To meet a man or woman, you have to be in a good place yourself and align yourself with your higher energy.
Law of attraction sage, Melody Fletcher, discusses going up the vibrational ladder so you’ll be vibrating more positive energy.
When you take the woo woo or mystery out of vibrations, it’s as simple as this: more good things happen in your life when you’re vibrating or exuding more positive energy.
When you’re feeling happy, confident, peaceful and joyful, you’ll attract more such experiences (and people) into your life.
If you’re an angry, maniacal sociopath with vendettas to fulfill, you’re going to attract shady characters with prison records into your life.
Try the various exercises Melody talks about over at Deliberate Receiving by working through emotions and moving towards healthier vibrations. Work through your emotions, change your thoughts and find techniques to put yourself in an optimal place.
8) Strive to be the person you’d want to date.
This tip is a combination of all the tips here. It sure would be nice to dream up a perfect person with wonderful characteristics who can become your hero and savior.
Once again, this would require you to do no work on your own.
If you’re confident, at ease with yourself, grounded with healthy habits and a balanced emotional human being, then congratulations Kate Middleton, you’re already married to a prince and have given birth to the future King of England.
For the rest of us mortals and royal subjects, we have self-improvement to work on.
If you are seeking someone who is financially stable, work on improving your own financial condition.
If you are seeking a kind-hearted, patient soul who serves the poor and attends mass regularly, work on your patience and generosity.
Become the person you want to date.
9) If you think you can change another person…
Anyone who’s in a relationship believing they can change the other person is naïve, foolish, or single. Or will soon be!
Simple advice here: know that you cannot change anyone. Even if you’re Gisele, Heidi Klum, Beyonce or Hillary Clinton, you can’t change your man, so don’t even try.
Once you know this, you have two choices: work on yourself or walk out of the relationship. If the person you’re with is worth it but has some less than desirable qualities, try to embrace and accept the person anyway.
Or you can be honest with yourself and walk; skate like Catriona Le May Doan out of the relationship.
You can’t change your man or woman just like you can’t change the weather.
Just like you can’t get the Starbucks barrista to spell your name right on your cup. (Oh wait, is that just me?)
Just like you can’t get your cat to respect you. Or your dog to get off your bed on wintery nights.
Some things in life will never change.
10) Look out for shared interests and background.
Remember in the mindset strategy above, I suggested that finding someone who has your shared values is the most important.
Once you have the most important qualities down, you can also be on the lookout for common interests and qualities. Don’t overdo it, but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to look for someone who also has the same cultural, spiritual or religious background as you.
You’re entitled to find a partner who enjoys listening to Kenney Chesney, vacationing in Yosemite or playing ultimate Frisbee on the weekends.
Your hobbies, sports, music, movie, travel, food and interests are what makes you unique.
Don’t expect or demand your partner love weekend trips to the Bahamas, Broadway plays, church with Michael Beckwith or joining you at your next Oprah book-club event. You can absolutely be compatible with someone who doesn’t, and they certainly can grow to enjoy those activities over time.
11) What you can do alone, do with others.
And no, this point has nothing to do with sexual satisfaction – come on people, we’re having a semi-serious discussion here.
When you’re trying to find that long-term relationship and sick of random-blind date hook-ups and online dating, try to explore your interests and passions in a group setting.
If you’re a runner, join a running club. If you’re a yogini, go to busier yoga classes or do yoga in the public park. Enthusiastically and boldly attend events with other people.
A group scenario will allow you to find others with similar shared interests. Be more enthusiastic to say yes to shared group activities. Look for opportunities to meet more people.
12) Shorter and more plentiful dates.
Why have long lunches or dinners when a brief coffee will give you all the details you need to make a decision about the person?
Intentionally, set up dates for 30 to 45 minutes and let the other person know ahead of time. You’ve already figured out your values and know what your relationship goals are.
When you’re clear about yourself and the other person, you’ll know very quickly if a person is right for you or not. You don’t need 12 dates or even 2 hours.
By cutting down on the length of time you meet someone, you’ll get good at dating and determining who’s right for you and who isn’t.
On the same note, you can also increase the number of people you’re meeting with. It’s a numbers game, folks – the more people you meet, the more likely you are to find someone compatible.
Having said this, do trust your instinct. If you can’t make up your mind after a lunch or a couple dates, give it a chance and keep an open mind.
13) Test their commitment.
Once you think you’ve landed on Mr. or Mrs. Right, or Mr. or Mrs. Good Enough, your next step is to see their life situation. Is this person looking for a long term relationship and commitment?
If they’re testing the waters, throw them into a shark-infested pool and get the heck out.
If they’re finding themselves, you don’t have to play hide and seek with them.
If they’re on a one-way trip to the Himalayas, bid them adieu and tell them to seek extra blessings for you. Tell ‘em to look me up when they get there 🙂
If someone is not sure of who they are or what they want in life, you sure don’t have time to help them figure it out. You’ve got a partner to find, not tango with the lost and the confused.
14) Postpone getting physical.
I don’t think there’s much more to say to this other than don’t get physical! No matter what Olivia Newton-John coons about in her song, “Let’s Get Physical”, don’t get physical!
Turning a relationship into a physical relationship early will hide many of the qualities that really matter to you.
Once your hormones have hijacked your rationality, your heart and your mind are simple prisoners of war. If you want more heartbreak, painful relationships and frustrating flings, get physical. Otherwise, I’m with Steve Harvey’s 90-day rule.
Steve says that you have to wait 90 days before getting into bed together. If it takes 90 days to get the “benefits” at the Ford Motor company, Harvey encourages you to wait 90 days before handing out the “benefits” of a relationship.
Check out the clip below.
15) Meet many new people and be willing to say goodbye to many more.
Be willing to say goodbye to people you’ve gone out with once or twice.
Have the courage to talk about the relationship and its long-term potential.
If you don’t think it’s the right person, relationship or situation for you, be willing to call it quits.
For longer-term relationships that come to an end, go through the grieving process and work through the pain to get back on track. Be grateful that the relationship has ended and move on by realizing that you’ve just completed a full cycle of growing and learning immeasurable life lessons.
Be willing to let go and say goodbye. Only when you take your mental and emotional energy off the previous person, can you move on to find the right person for you.
Choosing the present moment, instead of lingering painfully in the past, is one way to move forward after heartbreak and loss.
As a matchmaker, Lisa Clampitt, points out, “Long-term compatibility is about respect and common values and building something, not about judgment of imperfections.”
That’s it, friends – 15 strategies to find someone you’re compatible with which can often be more fulfilling than your dream knight in shining armor or flawless prince (both who don’t exist!).
My final caveat is simply to take things slow and not rush into anything you’ll regret later. If you think someone is compatible, give it some time to see if the person has long-term potential.
Be conscious in your dating by being aware of some of the advice here and allow your intuition to lead the way.
Your turn – does true love exist? How did you find the right person for you? If you’re still looking for the “one,” what are the challenges you’re facing? You know where to leave your comments.