Love is the keystone to every relationship but there are several more pieces to the puzzle that will help ensure your relationship is one that lasts.
‘Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired’ – Robert Frost
The question I get asked most often when I tell people I am a relationship coach is ‘why is it so hard to find real love in the modern world?’
The reasons for this phenomenon are quite diverse in my opinion but the most fundamental one is that our current interpretation of romantic love is based on a popular (and highly misleading IMHO) myth: that love is all you need. All over Hollywood movies, social media, and pop songs, we see happy love stories where people fall in love and manage to overcome all obstacles before finally getting together as if by magic. But are happy, long-lasting relationships truly magical or do they take intention, dedication, and hard work? I am obviously a proponent of the latter.
Unconscious love – the one where we expect our partner to simply be our everything, where things go smoothly without any effort (in other words too good to be true) – is usually short-lived, sad, and leaves deep scars when the magic is over. That giddy feeling that we often equate with ‘real love’ is usually nothing but chemistry – it’s Mother Nature’s spell she casts to ensure our species keeps going. Actually, chemistry is simply an irresistible desire to be desired that often gets us into a lot of trouble.
Successful couples know that chemistry has a limited shelf life and sooner or later that desire will fade until – if it was indeed the only thing keeping you together – there is nothing left but distance. The forgotten ingredient in most love stories is that in addition to attraction, there also needs to be a reasonable to high level of compatibility for the happily ever after to continue long after the hormonal high of lust is gone.
Here are 5 tips on how to determine genuine compatibility with a new partner and connect at a deeper level:
1. Know what you want
From your life and relationship. Most people never find what they’re looking for because they actually don’t have a clear idea of what it is they want. To help you along, ask yourself these powerful questions: What is the one thing I could change about myself that would make me really happy? Or What would be the biggest benefit to my life if I met the partner of my dreams? Spend some time defining what your ideal life is and then manifest it into reality with the help of a powerful vision board (for a step-by-step tutorial on how to create a vision board check this link). When you meet someone who matches your vision, you will find that the connection is much deeper than just being physical and will lay the groundwork for a strong foundation to build a lasting and conscious relationship.
2. What are your standards?
Once your vision is clear, go right ahead and determine your minimum standards for a relationship (what you absolutely cannot do without). These standards will ensure that you don’t waste time with people who cannot actually meet your expectation and therefore offer you what you need. Having clear boundaries also means you will spend more time with like-minded people and those who are prepared to be open and vulnerable enough to find a place in our life. Key questions to ask yourself are what am I willing to tolerate in a loving relationship and where do I draw the line? Also, how will I communicate with a partner when my boundaries are broken?
3. Self-love first before you can love.
Remember that the foundation of love is actually self–love, so let go of all self-judgment, criticism and the tendency to please others. When we don’t accept who we are and reject those parts of us we think people won’t like, we create walls to protect ourselves, when in fact we just want to keep others out. Sadly, most of us have a deep-seated belief that we are not good enough hiding somewhere in the deepest parts of our subconscious. The good news is you can start reframing this belief by using powerful affirmations that will ensure you slowly but surely transform this belief from a barrier to intimacy into the biggest engine for change.
4. Develop your core intimacy skills
Like deep listening, proactive assertiveness and conflict resolution. When you make the effort to listen carefully to what is being said only so you can understand the message (instead of focusing on what your answer will be), you are showing your partner they are loved and cared for. Learning how to articulate your feelings and emotions without triggering defensiveness and anger will allow you to create and maintain a level of connection that can truly last a lifetime. Practice these skills with family and friends or hire a professional coach to help you reach the next level of competency, ideally before you start looking for the love of your life.
5. Keep your standards high but ensure your expectations are as realistic.
While standards are the result of clarity of vision and specific requirements, expectations are wants or stories we tell ourselves of how relationships should be. The social programming or myths about love that have been planted in our head from childhood have given most of us some fixed ideas about what perfect relationships are meant to look like. Spend some time assessing whether all the things you are expecting of a partner are things you can actually deliver yourself. For example, if you have an expectation of full trust and honesty in your relationship, make sure you are able to trust and be honest to the same degree.
Now imagine that everyone you meet has done this work to find clarity about themselves and possess the ability to balance their heart with their head when starting a new relationship. What would our society look like? What level of connection would be possible if we all approached love more consciously and mindfully?