Finding love can be both exciting and also at times discouraging, you may meet someone accidentally, you may be introduced to them, you may think someone is the one and they don’t feel the same, essentially the path to finding love is different for us all. It is vital to remember that this is the case and therefore to not compare our relationship paths with others. All of us can find love, if that is what we are looking for, if we have an understanding of whether we are in the right place psychologically for it and put the right amount of effort in. Remaining open to finding a partner can be one of the key factors in success, as discussed in our podcast ‘First Dates in Relationships’. It is therefore important to not give up hope nor make finding a partner the sole purpose of your existence but to strike a balance.
With an increase in access to potential partners, whether it be online or matchmaking services, it can increase the chances of success but also the potential for doubt in a new relationship. With so many options we have somewhat become a throwaway society, when we hit a bump in the road, people are often quick to jump ship and simply move on to the next potential. However, love takes work and not putting the effort in to overcome initial hurdles will prevent you from finding meaningful long-term relationships.
As the saying goes, ‘the grass isn’t always greener’, and you could find yourself wishing you’d tried that little bit harder with someone and wondering whether it could have gone anywhere. Although love does take effort it shouldn’t always feel like hard work, there needs to be a balance of putting energy into your relationship, without it sucking all of your own energy, leaving you exacerbated. It is important to remember that love won’t always be easy, that’s not to say it will be difficult to find but holding on to it long enough to establish true connections is key. This is highlighted by Michelle Birge in her article ‘Love Takes Work, But Not Too Much Work’when she says that “all relationships take some work. But the right one doesn’t take that much work”.
In order to give someone a chance, you need to be engaged, ask questions and to be curious about them. Putting in the time will allow you to see if connections will be formed and time will establish whether these connections are likely to last. If you jump at the first instance you disagree or fall out with someone, issues cannot be resolved or discussed and what could have been cleared up with a bit of communication, has resulted in the break up of a relationship. It can be frightening being vulnerable. Even having an honest conversation about what you want or need from someone to form a relationship can leave you feeling that way. However, you open yourself up to so much potential by being vulnerable, but if you’d given up on it, love would be that little bit further away. Emma Seppälädiscusses this issue in her blog ‘Why Being Vulnerable is the Key to Intimacy’whereby she states that “the quality that makes a relationship last is its degree of affection and true affection implies vulnerability”.
Another key factor to getting the love you want is to know what you want, understand what you expect and only accept the relationships that fulfil this. When it comes to relationship advice, we are littered with articles telling us what we should accept, what we should expect and telling us how we should feel. Whether it be contradictory advice of taking control as a woman or to follow traditional dating practices, right down to whether we should abide by strict first date rules. The truth of the matter is that in order to feel comfortable and happy in a relationship you need to understand what behaviours you are willing to accept and what kind of relationship you want to have, whilst remaining open to being vulnerable and meeting someone. Only then will others around you understand your expectations and adhere to them.
Setting boundaries and having self-worth does not mean you relinquish all abilities to be open and forthcoming to new relationships nor does it allow you to exhibit controlling behaviour over others. It simply means that you are allowing yourself to have the right kind of relationships. Here are a few tips that may help you remain open to finding love but also keep hold of the standards you are looking for.
- Communication is key, a concept that is outlined in the blog ‘Don’t lose a fantastic relationship to poor communication – understanding the differences between how men and women communicate’written by Dr Georgina Barnett. You need to express clearly and concisely as and when you feel a potential partner has treated you in a manner you find unacceptable. Here you can keep things light hearted, so as to get your point across but ensure any negative feelings are not amplified.
- Internally process your own behaviour and ensure you are justified in your feelings. Sometimes we may over dramatize situations to validate how we are feeling, yet if we are mindful about what it is that has affected us then we are able to communicate this clearly to others. Conversely, we also need to ensure that our internal monologue does not turn into negative self-talk. “Negative self-talk is any inner dialogue you have with yourself that may be limiting your ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities, and reach your potential.” This was outlined by Elizabeth Scott, MSin her article ‘The Toxic Effects of Negative Self-Talk’.Whether we move to blaming or negative self-talk behaviours, both need to be addressed and we need to ensure we are taking an objective view or at least a realistic subjective one.
- Explain your thought process or your reasons as to why you feel the way you do e.g. I do not like the tone you used as it makes me feel belittled. This allows your potential partner an insight into your thought processes and will help them understand what you need from them. After all we are not mind readers and our true meanings can be altered through incorrect perceptions.
Further to these tips, we have all heard the common phrase that in order to find love you must first love yourself and that having this self-worth is a pre-cursor to a wonderful relationship with a potential partner. However recent research has shown that yes, it is important to love yourself but that it is more important to have self-security. Self-security is defined as the open and non-judgmental acceptance of one's own weaknesses as discussed in the article ‘Accepting our weaknesses and enjoying better relationships: An initial examination of self-security’(Huang & Berenbaum, 2017). It is this honesty and acceptance with yourself that allows you to be open in relationships and also to be open to finding a relationship. Fully understanding yourself, having self-security, setting boundaries and taking an active role in finding a relationship is what will propel you towards a successful relationship.
This was supported by the research which found that self-security predicted relationship quality and that participants’ greater self-security significantly predicted experiencing less conflict and emotional distress in their relationships. We live the life that we accept, and this is the same for relationships. We have the type of relationship we accept and in order to ensure we are having successful, fulfilling ones you need to be with those who treat you the way you want to be treated. Mutual respect, understanding and clear communication will allow both you and a potential partner to learn and teach each other exactly what it is you want from your relationship and in turn prevent you from turning away from love.
In conclusion, it is important to remember to live your life as a whole but to remain open to exploring a potential relationship and giving it the chance both you and the other person deserve. If things don’t work out, after you’ve been engaged with this person, then continue to be open to finding love. Just because you look for love for today and don’t find it, doesn’t mean it won’t turn up tomorrow. Go at love with a realistic view, no it won’t be easy, but it will sure be worth it when you find someone you want to make the effort for. As the saying goes; If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.
Huang, A. B., & Berenbaum, H. (2017). Accepting our weaknesses and enjoying better relationships: An initial examination of self-security. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 64-70.