by John Howard
Everyone wants to find a mate that is a good fit emotionally, physically and spiritually. While there is no system that can guarantee we will meet that special someone, there are steps we can take to increase the odds, and a few common mistakes to avoid as we prepare for a relationship.
For those seeking relationships, three major areas of readiness exist that can make the process of finding a partner more effective. The first is clearing any psychological and emotional obstacles keeping us from having a fulfilling, committed relationship. These obstacles are often hidden from conscious awareness. Such inner preferences also shape our ability to attract a relationship. People sometimes say, “I am looking for a partner,” but may really feel they are not ready, are not adequate partners themselves or fear the commitment. Hidden beliefs like these can keep a relationship at bay.
The second area covers how well we know ourselves, and by extension, what constitutes a good match. To attract a partner that fits us, we should be able to speak to our strengths and weaknesses, how we tend to act in a relationship and what we are looking for in a mate. We want to understand how our unique qualities will intersect with what we are seeking in a partner. This is especially true in considering what fulfills us. It is helpful to think about our ideal day and how our partner would fit into that scenario, rather than general qualities society deems attractive.
The third phase of finding a partner involves moving our internal clarity about relationship fully into the world so that the world can respond. Romantic partnership does have an x-factor, but the process of attracting a mate does not need to be so esoteric. To de-mystify the process, it is helpful to correlate it to how we form friendships. When we need friends, we typically join clubs or churches, seek out people who enjoy the same activities we do and ask neighbors for social referrals. This is a good platform for seeking a partner and it advertises our single status in a confident way. Rather than testing for friendship in people we find physically attractive, we can look for romantic interest in people we connect with as friends. A friendship is one of the best foundations for a longterm relationship.
A few common mistakes can be avoided to improve the odds of a successful relationship. The first potential mistake is not knowing what we want before we begin looking. The elation produced by the beginning of romance, and the feeling of connection after having been lonely, are powerful forces that can obscure our ability to think clearly. We want to make sure we are measuring potential mates against time-tested aspects of ourselves, not just how we feel in the moment. We sometimes choose partners partly based on automatic reactions we have to whomever shows up. These instinctual behaviors can lead us to people who seem familiar based on previous, but not necessarily positive, experiences. Having a clear understanding of what we need to feel fulfilled in the long-term provides protection against the tendency to go with what is easy, convenient or familiar.
The second mistake is not taking enough time to get to know a person before making a commitment. The first phase of a relationship typically reveals only a surface layer of each person. People are on their best behavior, hoping to impress the other. The person we know in the first few months of dating is just one aspect of the person we will live with after that initial phase is over. Time gives us a fuller picture of who our partner is, and how we manage challenging situations together. Part of having a healthy relationship is knowing that we can navigate these later phases.
The third mistake is not pursuing specific training in relational skills. Our society does a poor job preparing us for what it takes to manage a successful life partnership. Schools spend little time teaching the skills necessary to deal with anxiety, disagree gracefully and be emotionally attuned. Families often fail to model healthy relating behaviors to the next generation. Pre-marital counseling may try to address these deficits to some degree, but it often falls short. Developing effective relational tools requires an in-depth pursuit by both partners of how to manage differences and operate as a two-person system.
Knowing who we are, what we are looking for and how to move our vision confidently into the world places us in a good position to attract a mate and build a successful partnership. Working with a knowledgeable professional in the dating process can help clarify goals, uncover hidden obstacles and expedite the process of finding a mate. Such exploration provides a solid foundation for building a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
John Howard, owner of Austin Energy Healing, has a master’s degree in counseling (M.A.) and is an energy healer focused on couples work, spiritual development and helping individuals find and prepare for relationships. For more information, call 512-469-0535 or visit AustinProfessionalCounseling.com.