1. Examine everything you believe about love.
Stop and take some time to really figure out where your beliefs came from. Was it watching parents and older siblings? Was it friends? Was it TV, movies or music? What do you truly believe about love underneath it all? What beliefs do you need to let go of? Make your own.
2. There is no such thing as a soul mate.
It’s a fluff term. If it were real we’d imprint on each other like werewolves in Twilight. There wouldn’t be those awkward situations where bride and groom stand in front of 250 people, promising to love their soul mate ‘til death do us part,’ only to divorce two years later. If you don’t believe me look it up in the dictionary. (I’ll bet it doesn’t quite match your romantic view.)
3. If you believe “All you need is love” or “Love conquers all” I’m sorry to break it to you but it isn’t true.
It’s romantic, but in reality, people who love each other can and do grow apart. They do things that love can’t overcome. No recipe calls for just one ingredient and love itself simply cannot stand alone. You need honesty and trust, time spent doing things you both enjoy, and time spent apart doing things you independently enjoy. You need structure and compromise, to be selfish at times and unselfish in others. The words are pretty but it’s the daily acts that go into love that lead to forever.
4. Did you ever stop to think that you haven’t met Mr. Right because you’re not Mrs. Right?
Why would he be interested in you? What qualities do you possess? What do you bring to the table? Not vague things like “I’m a really good person,” or “I like to give back.” What are you really doing and why would he care? Take everything you think about the men you meet and turn the microscope on yourself. Do you like what you see?
5. Don’t spend the time that you’re single “waiting” for Mr. Right.
Spend it working — on yourself. What does that mean? It’s not just about the gym or some vague “getting out there.” You should be getting better every day or you’re falling behind. You should be investing in yourself like you’re all you’ve got — because you are. Read more books and blogs, listen to more podcasts, take those dance classes, or Spanish classes, or painting classes. Make a list of things “the girl you thought you’d be” would do and get out there and do them.
6. There is no one Mr. Right.
This is like a soul mate and the same rules apply, e.g. “imprinting” but later divorcing. Let me just go ahead and say that these also apply to his other aliases: Prince Charming, White Knight, and The Perfect Man. This isn’t talked about often enough but there are easily hundreds of men in the world you could happily end up with. It’s based on timing, circumstances, location and a whole host of other things. As human beings, we aren’t that different from each other. We all have the same basic needs and many of us have similar needs in terms of love, security and significance. Let go of the fantasy of “one right person” and instead open yourself up to the reality that you’ll meet many different men throughout your life.
7. “When it’s right, you’ll know,” is terrible advice.
Where else in life besides love do we apply this flawed logic with good results? Would you go buy a vehicle with no idea whether you want a car, truck or SUV? Isn’t it much better to have a plan? The same goes with love. Not only do you have to take #5 to heart and work on yourself, you also need to be working on your future relationship. Study other people who have successful relationships you’d like to emulate.
Spend a significant amount of time figuring out what you want in a relationship. Understand where you came from and how those circumstances have affected your attitude toward love. Know your standards and your deal breakers. We do it with careers. We do it with house hunting. But just like you could happily and gratefully live in a house someone else deems “not right,” you won’t know the right house for you until you’ve set your standards.
8. Each relationship you enter into will have one of two outcomes.
It will end, or you will stay together forever. That’s all there is, and only one lasts forever. So know that going in. Know that the ones that end do not break you, they truly do make you stronger and you must make sure they make you wiser. The only way the relationship was a failure is if you never learn anything from it.
9. Love isn’t always sexy.
Nothing lasts for 50+ years without maintenance. We see those couples occasionally, at some event, standing to be recognized for their Golden Anniversary. We stand and applaud thinking, “Aww … I want that someday.” We never stop to think about what goes into it. The years and years with the same person. The cute quirks that turn into the most annoying things in the world. The sheer enormity of time. It’s hard to fathom spending more time with someone than we’ve been alive at the time we’re making the commitment.
Yet time after time, day after day, couples continue to take the plunge without making the real commitment. To truly work together, to make decisions together, to schedule time in busy calendars for each other, to make goals together, to work toward them and check-in on progress together. That’s not sexy. Easier to cry happy tears through the vows, throw rice, and then throw up your hands and walk away a few years later when everything has fallen apart. What would a house look like if it were left without maintenance for 50 years?
10. Men are amazing and incredible as they are.
I know it’s hard to see sometimes. We’re societally trained to think of them as something to train, to change, to “put up with.” It can become so deeply buried inside that it just becomes second nature. But to be in a successful relationship, do everything you can to understand your man as he is. Learn more about him, learn how to relate to him, don’t try to make him into what you think he should be or how you think he should be.
Of course, the same should apply to you. You’re two different people and genders. It’s easy to fall into the romantic, “He is my other half” view but the truth is no two people see eye to eye on everything all the time. Love him for who he is, celebrate the differences in the way you think, speak, and express emotion. After all, if he were just like you, what would be the point of being with him?