By Michael Kimmel
Finding the right person who will love you for who you are is one of the great achievements of life. In my work as a psychotherapist, I meet many women and men who tell me, “I want to meet someone wonderful. I’m ready and I want to meet them now!” This initial burst of optimism is laudable, but, is often followed a few weeks’ later by, “Why haven’t I met someone yet? What am I doing wrong?”
Sometimes, the answer to that question is, “Perhaps you’re not ready for a relationship.” Gulp. No one wants to hear that. We like to see ourselves as a beautiful, desirable person that anyone great would want to be with. But, why then is it so hard to find a partner with whom you can experience long-lasting, romantic love?
To attract wonderful partners, it helps to work on ourselves emotionally and mentally, so that, when we finally meet that terrific someone, we are ready for a healthy, loving relationship. If you want a relationship, but may not be ready for one, here are some ideas to consider:
- Lower your “DNC” emotions (e.g., desperation/neediness/clinginess) by taking better care of yourself. Treat yourself the way you want your future partner to treat you: don’t wait until he/she/they actually shows up. Start feeling loved and valued now.
- Make your life good before you start to date. Many of us are looking for a partner to make our life better. To some degree, this makes sense. But, if we are looking for someone to dramatically change our life from lonely and miserable to happy and loved, we’re looking for love in all the wrong places. No one can do that for you, and if that’s what you expect, I’ll bet you have a history of short unhappy relationships.
- Get rid of your “perfect partner checklist”. This kind of list assumes that you know exactly who will love you best and that you can spot this kind of person when you first meet them. Wrong! Having rigid ideas of your perfect partner is so limiting that you may never meet anyone “good” enough for you. Be willing to be surprised on who you click with; if you have a pattern of the type of people you date, consider getting to know someone who breaks the mold.
- Have a solid friendship circle. Don’t expect your perfect partner to be your everything: this is a set-up for failure. No person — no matter how perfect — can be everything we want and need. We need friends. If you don’t have this kind of friendship circle, begin to cultivate it. It takes time to “grow” real friendships, but you can always start now.
- Learn to enjoy doing things alone. This terrifies some of us, but, it’s part of life. If you can’t enjoy your own company, you’ll be desperate to always have someone — anyone — around. Find things you like to do alone and start to do them. It can be as simple as going for a walk, sitting in a coffee shop, potting some plants for your window box/garden, listening to music, going to the gym/yoga … whatever makes you feel good.
- Online dating sites can be ideal for shy/more introverted single men and women. They let you get to know people in a less intensely intimate (e.g. face-to-face) way. You can take the time (and even get a friend to help you) to complete a profile and put photos out there that you are comfortable with.
There’s nothing sexier than to meet a person who is happy with themselves and sincerely wants to get to know you. Living a well-balanced and well-rounded life is attractive to others. Prioritizing self-care, fitness and health makes you someone that people want to get to know. Having an open heart and mind in meeting others will lead to eventually meeting a compatible partner.
If you want a relationship — but aren’t quite ready for one — consider “trying on” some of the above ideas and see if your Mr./Ms. Right doesn’t come your way, maybe sooner than you think!
— Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.