UW Seattle Reassess your misconceptions about dating and relationships The first step to finding love is to reassess some of the misconceptions about dating and relationships that may be preventing you from finding lasting love. While there are health benefits that come with being in a solid relationship, many people can be just as happy and fulfilled without being part of a couple. And nothing is as unhealthy and dispiriting as being in a bad relationship.
This is an important myth to dispel, especially if you have a history of making inappropriate choices. Instant sexual attraction and lasting love do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.
Emotions can change and deepen over time, and friends sometimes become lovers—if you give those relationships a chance to develop. Women have different emotions than men. But both men and women experience the same core emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, and joy. True love is constant or Physical attraction fades over time.
As we age, both men and women have fewer sexual hormones, but emotion often influences passion more than hormones, and sexual passion can become stronger over time. People only change if and when they want to change. Over time, and with enough effort, you can change the way you think, feel, and act. Disagreements always create problems in a relationship.
With the right resolution skills, conflict can also be an opportunity for growth in a relationship. Expectations about dating and finding love When we start looking for a long-term partner or enter into a romantic relationship, many of us do so with a predetermined set of often unrealistic expectations—such as how the person should look and behave, how the relationship should progress, and the roles each partner should fulfill.
These expectations may be based on your family history, influence of your peer group, your past experiences, or even ideals portrayed in movies and TV shows. Retaining many of these unrealistic expectations can make any potential partner seem inadequate and any new relationship feel disappointing.
Consider what's really important Distinguish between what you want and what you need in a partner. Wants are negotiable, needs are not. Wants include things like occupation, intellect, and physical attributes such as height, weight, and hair color. Even if certain traits seem crucially important at first, over time you'll often find that you've been needlessly limiting your choices. For example, it may be more important to find someone who is: Curious rather than extremely intelligent.
Curious people tend to grow smarter over time, while those who are bright may languish intellectually if they lack curiosity. Sensual rather than sexy.
Caring rather than beautiful or handsome. A little mysterious rather than glamorous. Humorous rather than wealthy. From a family with similar values to yours, rather than someone from a specific ethnic or social background. Needs are different than wants in that needs are those things that matter to you most, such as values, ambitions, or goals in life. These are probably not the things you can find out about a person by eyeing them on the street, reading their profile on a dating site, or sharing a quick cocktail at a bar before last call.
What feels right to you? When looking for lasting love, forget what looks right, forget what you think should be right, and forget what your friends, parents, or other people think is right, and ask yourself: Does the relationship feel right to me?
Concentrate on activities you enjoy, your career, health, and relationships with family and friends. When you focus on keeping yourself happy, it will keep your life balanced and make you a more interesting person when you do meet someone special. Remember that first impressions aren't always reliable, especially when it comes to Internet dating. It always takes time to really get to know a person and you have to experience being with someone in a variety of situations.
For example, how well does this person hold up under pressure when things don't go well or when they're tired, frustrated, or hungry? Be honest about your own flaws and shortcomings. Besides, what you consider a flaw may actually be something another person finds quirky and appealing.
Build a genuine connection The dating game can be nerve wracking. But no matter how shy or socially awkward you feel, you can overcome your nerves and self-consciousness and forge a great connection. Focus outward, not inward. Being fully present in the moment will help take your mind off worries and insecurities. No one likes to be manipulated or placated. Rather than helping you connect and make a good impression, your efforts will most likely backfire.
Make an effort to truly listen to the other person. Put your smartphone away. To truly connect, tune in Feeling loved happens face-to-face, from one moment to the next, between you and the other person. Put a priority on having fun Online dating, singles events, and matchmaking services like speed dating are enjoyable for some people, but for others they can feel more like high-pressure job interviews. And whatever dating experts might tell you, there is a big difference between finding the right career and finding lasting love.
Instead of scouring dating sites or hanging out in pick-up bars, think of your time as a single person as a great opportunity to expand your social circle and participate in new events. Make your focus having fun. By pursuing activities you enjoy and putting yourself in new environments, you'll meet new people who share similar interests and values.
Tips for finding fun activities and like-minded people: Volunteer for a favorite charity, animal shelter, or political campaign. Or even try a volunteer vacation for details see Resources section below.
Take an extension course at a local college or university. Sign up for dance, cooking, or art classes. Join a running club, hiking group, cycling group, or sports team. Join a theater group, film group, or attend a panel discussion at a museum. Find a local book group or photography club. Attend local food and wine tasting events or art gallery openings. How about pole dancing, origami, or lawn bowling? Getting out of your comfort zone can be rewarding in itself.
Handle rejection gracefully At some point, everyone looking for love is going to have to deal with rejection—both as the person being rejected and the person doing the rejecting. By staying positive and being honest with yourself and others, handling rejection can be far less intimidating. The key is to accept that rejection is an inevitable part of dating but to not spend too much time worrying about it. Be grateful for early rejections—it can spare you much more pain down the road.
If it happens repeatedly, though, take some time to reflect on how you relate to others, and any problems you need to work on. Then let it go. By dealing with rejection in a healthy way it can increase your strength and resilience. Practices for Improving Well-Being Acknowledge your feelings. It's important to acknowledge your feelings without trying to suppress them.
Practicing mindfulness can help you stay in touch with your feelings and quickly move on from negative experiences. Watch for relationship red flags Red-flag behaviors can indicate that a relationship is not going to lead to healthy, lasting love. Trust your instincts and pay close attention to how the other person makes you feel. If you tend to feel insecure, ashamed, or undervalued, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.
Common relationship red flags: The relationship is alcohol dependent. You only communicate well—laugh, talk, make love—when one or both of you are under the influence of alcohol or other substances. For some people commitment is much more difficult than others. It's harder for them to trust others or to understand the benefits of a long-term relationship because of previous experiences or an unstable home life growing up.
Nonverbal communication is off. Jealousy about outside interests. There is a desire on the part of one person to control the other, stop them from having independent thoughts and feelings.
The relationship is exclusively sexual. There is no interest in the other person other than a physical interest. A meaningful and fulfilling relationship depends on more than just good sex. One partner only wants to be with the other as part of a group of people.
Deal with trust issues Mutual trust is a cornerstone of any close personal relationship. However, if you're someone with trust issues—someone who's been betrayed, traumatized, or abused in the past, or someone with an insecure attachment bond —then you may find it impossible to trust others and find lasting love.
If you have trust issues, your romantic relationships will be dominated by fear—fear of being betrayed by the other person, fear of being let down, or fear of feeling vulnerable. But it is possible to learn to trust others.
By working with the right therapist or group therapy setting, you can identify the source of your mistrust and explore ways to build richer, more fulfilling relationships. Nurture your budding relationship Finding the right person is just the beginning of the journey, not the destination. In order to move from casual dating to a committed, loving relationship, you need to nurture that new connection. To nurture your relationship: