I was recently in a New York City café, sipping a cappuccino and observing couples at different stages in their relationships. The age-old story: two people meet… and the ritual of courtship ensues. They’re looking for love. Some couples will find “love” for a day. Other couples will create a mutually loving bond that lasts forever.Years ago, I wanted to find lasting love for myself. In order to get this, though, I needed to learn about the different levels of love that were out there. After getting therapy, a degree in marriage and family counseling, and a lot of experience working with both successful and unsuccessful couples…. I did learn how to find lasting love for myself. Now I write about this ultimate journey, and I try to guide others as well.
Many of us want to find The One, but we don’t know what, exactly, to look for. We hope that destiny will bring our true love to us through a chance meeting, or maybe via an introduction through a friend. Think again! Destiny and chance and an introduction here and there aren’t usually enough.
We may want to find lasting love, but the truth is that most of us apply more research, strategy, and effort in searching for a car, than we’d ever think to apply toward finding the person who is perfect for us. When we go shopping for a new set of wheels, we know what we want. Maybe we go hunting for a black convertible with black interiors, manual transmission, and a sports package… You get the picture.
We should apply the same process to finding our perfect life-mate. But how do you do this?
I take my clients through a process. First, we identify the qualities that are important to the person who is looking for love. Is their perfect mate kind or relatively blunt? Adventurous or meek? A vegan or a T-bone and potatoes kind of guy? Outgoing? Health conscious? The kind of guy whose idea of exercise is to ride the couch while channel surfing? The client must decide.
If you want to find your own perfect match, you need to start by thinking about what you want. Explore your values. Pick five or six values that you care about most. Are you looking for someone who values charitable endeavors? Their family? Having fun? Academia? Money? Being compatible and sharing values is an important determinant of enduring and successful relationships.
Be honest and specific when you write your list of core values. This is not the time to worry about being politically correct or being judged. When your list is complete, you can use it to help you identify The One if you happen to meet or hear about them.
Now it’s time to make your second list: your “deal breakers.” These are the things that you decide are unambiguously unacceptable in your potential mate—even if he or she meets every other one of the good qualities on your list. These “deal breakers” should include the obvious entries, like physical and verbal abuse, active addictions, and anger management issues. But you should include your own personal list of behaviors or features that you know don’t work for you. Perhaps you don’t want to be with someone who travels for work and is almost never at home. Or perhaps you don’t want to be with someone who can’t resolve conflicts with discussion, and who chooses to, instead, act out their relationship distress in mean ways. Add these to the list. When you see these behaviors or features in someone, you know that it’s time to move on to the next candidate. Run! Don’t walk.
Armed with your two lists, you are now ready to look for The One. You’re not playing a guessing game anymore. Remember that there’s someone out there for everyone. There’s someone out there for you. You don’t ever need to settle for less!