Have you started to think that unconditional love is just some fantasy put forth by songs, pop culture, and romantic comedies? Is it hard for you to see past the reality that passion fades? Are you starting to believe that relationships have no choice but to end in jealousy, pain, and divorce?
This is a tricky topic to discuss, but it’s one that I feel is very important to pursue because of a recent exchange that took place at one of my live events. The overall topic of the event was relationship and dating confidence, so we actually had an entire relationship panel made up of people who were in healthy, loving relationships ranging from five to twenty-plus years.
As part of the event, we had the panel discuss how they relate to each other, communicate effectively, and maintain a supportive, loving, and positive environment that fosters an extraordinary relationship. It was after this discussion that one of my clients spoke up and shared how much it discouraged him to hear the panel describe their relationships.
Unfortunately, this particular client had grown up in an environment that was nothing like those being described by the panel members. He had grown up in a less-than-loving household, had no example of a positive romantic relationship, and therefore, had no foundation for how to behave in and facilitate one.
The point was that he felt as though the situations the panel was describing were not available to him, and it felt crushing to come face-to-face with that possibility.
Fact: if you worry that a healthy, loving relationship might not be an option for you, you are NOT alone.
Millions of people—regardless of looks, financial security, or success—feel a sense of hopelessness when it comes to love. And once you’re stuck in that mindset, the pain and doubt can drag you into a downward spiral of fear and insecurity that’s incredibly difficult to escape from.
The tendency at that point is to build up a laundry list of reasons that it will never work out for you . . . and they’re ALL based on your past:
– I’ve never been able to let down my walls.
– No one has ever dared to love me for who I am.
– I have no idea how to be in a loving relationship.
All of these pieces of evidence that you’re pulling from your past like tissues from a box are just causing more and more gridlock in your ability to move forward and create the love life that you deserve.
This is what was happening for my client at the live event: he’d become stuck with no hope of achieving something better.
So, I pointed out to him that he was creating a future reality that was limited to the circumstances of his past. He admitted that that was true. Then I asked him if he wanted to change, and he said, “Yes, that’s why I’m here working with you!”
Believe it or not, we’d already accomplished step one of moving past the problem: feeling the desire for more and committing to change. But, that’s not enough. If we really want to create change, then we also need to take action.
So, I asked him to describe a strong relationship in his life, whether it was with a friend or loved one, and he began to describe his relationship with his best friend. Now, what was amazing about that portion of the discussion was that his entire demeanor changed in a heartbeat. When he’d been talking about romantic relationships, his voice was tight, his physicality was stiff, and his face was distorted in a look of constant despair. When he began discussing his close friendship, however, he loosened up, relaxed his face, and started to sound genuinely happy.
Referencing his friendship, he talked about being real with each other, having each other’s backs, respecting each other, and sharing common interests and activities. He talked about how much he valued their ability to talk about anything together.
Now, I’m not trying to be reductive, but that sounds an awful lot like the building blocks of a healthy, strong romantic relationship as well . . . and he knew it.
Without me having to say anything, he began to make the connection:
Sure, there needs to be physical attraction and romantic desire, but a romantic relationship shares all of the same elements of a strong friendship: intimacy, trust, and communication.
If you’ve ever been part of a healthy friendship, then you already know how a romantic relationship is supposed to work out. The building blocks are there—you just have to use them to shape a new structure.
Sadly, this is where most people tend to get caught up once again: How do you build that new structure? Where do you even start?
This is a great question, and it can be a tough one to answer. But, as one of my mentors used to say, “‘How?’ is the dream killer.”
Now, I like to say (especially in this context) that, “‘How?’ asked too early is the dream killer.” Even in the simplest situation, you have to ask, “How?” eventually . . . but you don’t have to figure everything out at once. Often, the challenge seems far more daunting when you try to take in and solve a total transformation instantly, rather than simply taking the first step.
To be honest, real love is a bit of a mystery: no one really knows exactly how it happens or why—they just have to trust that everything will come together if it’s right.
If you want to facilitate this ability in yourself, however, and open yourself up to the possibility of love, then there are a few things you should be doing:
- Trust – The first thing you need to cultivate if you want to develop healthy romantic relationships romantic is trust. You might be able to trust your friends unconditionally, but if you harbor an aversion to trust when it comes to love and intimacy, then you’re doomed.
In order to cultivate romantic trust, you need to first cultivate a belief that someone wonderful could (and should) be attracted to you; someone trustworthy who will treat you well can actually fall deeply in love with you . . . and that person will deserve your love and trust in return.
- Forgiveness – This might seem obvious, but I’m not talking about forgiveness of others (though, of course, this will also be necessary)—I’m talking about forgiveness of yourself.
As it now stands, you’ve been going through your life believing that you weren’t capable of being in a committed, healthy romantic relationship for one reason or another . . . and I’m betting that reason is based on a negative self-judgment. Maybe you always remind yourself of how bad you are in relationships, or maybe you are always rehashing your romantic mistakes in your head. Regardless of why you’re being so harsh on yourself, it’s time to forgive yourself for your past so that you can open yourself up to love in the future.
- Self-control – You cannot learn to forgive yourself if you cannot get control of the voices inside your head. All of us are constantly dealing with a daily barrage of commentary from those inner critics . . . but the trick is to learn how to silence the ones that are not serving you.
When you hear the voice that says you’re not good enough or that you’re never going to have the relationship that you want, you need to grab control of the steering wheel and become the captain of the ship.
Now, there are several ways to do this (meditation, mantras, self-dialogue), but if you want some guidance and support through this venture, you should check out my new book, OMOS: On My Own Side, coming out early in 2020. This book is literally a manual for how to get on your own side and take charge in your life by gaining control of your own mind. In the meantime, you can stay tuned to these videos for a sneak peek at some of the exercises that I’ll be highlighting in the book.
Whether you need the additional resources or not, though, the takeaway for today’s episode is that love IS possible for you. You don’t need to know how it’s going to happen, and you don’t need all the answers right now—you just need to have the vision and be able to take the first step.
Take a chance, and start cultivating that trust, forgiveness, and control.
Keep at it day after day, and let it continue to grow and emerge over time. You will be amazed at the gifts that come to you when you finally begin to outgrow the destructive patterns in your mind.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Have you ever worried that love isn’t an option for you? How has working to cultivate trust, forgiveness, and control worked for you? What other words of advice can you share with your peers? Let’s continue to support each other in our growth.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.