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For many of us, our emotional baggage can make finding the right romantic partner a difficult journey. Perhaps you grew up in a household where there was no role model of a solid, healthy relationship and you doubt that such a thing even exists. You could be attracted to the wrong type of person or keep making the same bad choices over and over, due to an unresolved issue from your past.
Whatever the case may be, you can overcome your obstacles.
Every relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons. However, there are also some characteristics that most healthy relationships have in common, such as mutual respect, trust, and honesty. In a strong, healthy relationship you also:. Read: Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship. 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.
Fact: 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. Fact: 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. But both men and women experience the same core emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, and joy. 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. With the right resolution skills, conflict can also provide an opportunity for growth in a relationship. 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. 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. For example, it may be more important to find someone who is:. Needs are different than wants in that needs are those qualities 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. 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. It always takes time to really get to know a person and you have to experience being with someone in a variety of situations. Be honest about your own flaws and shortcomings. Besides, what you consider a flaw may actually be something another person finds quirky and appealing.
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. Staying fully present in the moment will help take your mind off worries and insecurities. Be curious. Be genuine. No one likes to be manipulated or placated. Rather than helping you connect and make a good impression, your efforts will most likely backfire. Pay attention.
Make an effort to truly listen to the other person. Put your smartphone away. 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 having fun your focus. 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. Dealing with rejection in a healthy way can increase your strength and resilience. Acknowledge your feelings.
Practicing mindfulness can help you stay in touch with your feelings and quickly move on from negative experiences. 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. 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. Nonverbal communication is off. Jealousy about outside interests. Controlling behavior. There is a desire on the part of one person to control the other, and 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 one. A meaningful and fulfilling relationship depends on more than just good sex. No one-on-one time. One partner only wants to be with the other as part of a group of people. Mutual trust is a cornerstone of any close personal relationship.
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 in a supportive group therapy setting, you can identify the source of your mistrust and explore ways to build richer, more fulfilling relationships.
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. Invest in it. Communicate openly. Your partner is not a mind reader, so tell them how you feel. When you both feel comfortable expressing your needs, fears, and desires, the bond between you will become stronger and deeper.
Resolve conflict by fighting fair. You need to feel safe to express the issues that bother you and to be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation, or insisting on being right. Be open to change. All relationships change over time. What you want from a relationship at the beginning may be very different from what you and your partner want a few months or years down the road. Accepting change in a healthy relationship should not only make you happier, but also make you a better person: kinder, more empathic, and more generous.
Relationship Search Tips for Singles — Ideas for where to meet other singles and find love. Nancy Wesson, Ph. Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start — Aimed at college students but universally applicable. Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships — Aimed at college students but applicable to others. University of Washington. Handling Social Rejection, Mistakes, and Setbacks — How to cope with a fear of rejection as well as recover when rejection happens.
Keep outside relationships and interests alive. Communicate openly and honestly. Good communication is a key part of any relationship.
When both people know what they want from the relationship and feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears, and desires, it can increase trust and strengthen the bond between you. What feels right to you? 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.
a running club, hiking group, cycling group, or sports team.Seeking a girl for a relationship
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