What is love?
Living in New York City the signs of love can get very confusing. In a city of driven creative workaholics whose first question is “what do you do?” evaluation of and compatibility with others tends to be transactional (even though we often don’t see it that way).
When I was looking for love I did the typical smart NYC girl thing and downloaded a stream of podcasts and blogs soaking up their find love fast advice. There were two common yet somewhat troubling recommendations across all of them:
- Find self love first.
- Make a list of what you want in a partner.
Everyone says to focus on self-love. In fact to this day when I post any advice on finding love, I inevitably get a comment about how I should be guiding people to find self love and not a partner. But why can’t you put some efforts into finding a loving partner if that’s what you want? You can!
Of course self-love is important, but we mustn’t act like it’s a switch you turn on or a thing you find (and never lose) which makes finding partner love instantaneous. Self-love is an ongoing process and contrary to popular belief, a good deal of that process can be done in the throws of a good healthy relationship.
It’s also valuable to note (in this age of social ME-dia) what self-love is not. Self-love is not selfishness, self-promotion, self-indulgence, or self-centeredness. It’s quiet and consistent and occurs side-by-side love of family, community, and cosmos.
Making a list of what we want and don’t want in a partner has some unexpected downfalls. The pros are obvious. Putting down what we want out of life is a helpful practice, but it can also be constricting and detrimental if we are even the tiniest bit confused or misled about what we should be asking for. And we always are. The problem is we feel SO clear when we write these things down. We don’t even know we are limiting ourselves unnecessarily and often asking for qualities we think we want/need, not the ones that will actually make us the most happy.
So.. how do we find love?
- Get out of your own way. Self-sabotage is perhaps the single most common reason so many of us are not in a loving partnership. We say we want love but we push away or destroy any viable opportunity. By creating unearned doubt and getting ahead of ourselves we end things before they even begin. We do this for many reasons, including fear of getting close, our addiction to our story of being alone, and our suspicion of the unknown. Combat this habit by practicing the yoga technique of staying present. Go day by day and keep showing up in gracious curiosity for yourself and for your potential partner, being with any doubts and peculiar feelings which arise. Give yourself and the person you are dating a chance before throwing it all out because of a fear of living with an attribute not on your list!
- Say no. Say no to old habits, place savers, actions and activities which are covering for or filling the space of what you desire. If you really want love you’ll need to recognize what you’ve been doing that hasn’t been working and start shifting those patterns. You’ll need to allow yourself loneliness, quietness, boredom, and sometimes uncomfortable, unfilled time. Say no to anything which numbs how you feel and those things that provide only temporary relief. Instead keep your heart open and even broken for signs of the real thing.
- Take risks. Date someone different. Go somewhere different. Expand your experiences and expectations. Question your key attribute list. Become what you desire so you don’t need someone else to be that and can allow for a partner who might be different. Stay open to new dynamics. Be less sure and more curious. Look into any idealized notions of love and partnerships and throw them all away. Get ready to be surprised.
- Stick with it. Timing is a funny thing and we are not always ready just when we think we are. That’s a good thing. The extra time with ourselves is something we can look back later on and recognize as a true gift. Just because a love match is taking longer to manifest than you expected, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It just hasn’t happened yet. Recall other times when things came to you suddenly, delayed, or seemingly accidentally and take comfort in the knowledge that we are not in charge. All we can do is set the stage and be ready to accept love when it appears.
For more detailed counseling on finding and maintaining true love relationships consider private coaching where we can get into your specific blocks and patterns and help you take actionable steps in the direction of love.