Everybody needs love.
But it’s not always easy to find it.
In fact, sometimes we get into such a rut of thinking a certain way that it can actually keep us from connecting with a potential partner. Or it might keep sending us to the wrong kind of partner: one who seems attractive at first, but ultimately isn’t good for a healthy, long-term relationship. If you feel like that’s happening in your life, take a look at these three critical mistakes that might be holding you back.
1. You’re not at peace with who you are.
I am all about becoming a better person everyday. And so are you, if you’re hanging out at LifeHack. You want to be better. You want to learn. You have a core of dissatisfaction that keeps you from settling, from being comfortable with average.
Personal growth is a noble endeavor if you pursue it from a sense of your own worth as a person. That sense of inherent worth—knowing that you matter, even if you never get as “good” as you want to be—gives you a deep, settled peace with who you are as a person. You have to know, as you seek to grow and improve, that the core of who you are is invaluable, amazing, and inherently worthwhile.
Being at peace with who you are means that you aren’t out to prove yourself to any person or any group. You’re developing yourself for your own reasons, because you realize that you’re worthwhile and you have the ability to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. When you pursue growth and self-betterment from that perspective, you do it with calmness, with peace, and with compassion.
When you’re not at peace with who you are, you change to please others. Your need for approval will outweigh your own confidence, and you will hide your quirks, your desires, your personality, and your needs in order to fit in to someone else’s expectations. But nobody can keep that up forever.
When you begin a relationship on a false note, eventually you have to decide: am I going to be honest about who I am, or am I going to walk away from this relationship to avoid being honest?
When you are not at peace with who you are, you project an image of yourself. And that image isn’t always very close to the real thing. So you end up attracting people to an image, but not to the real you. In short, you’re attracting the wrong kind of people—people who fit your image, but not people who fit with your core, your heart, your real self. In order to attract those kind of people, you have to put away the image and be real.
2. You believe the fronts that other people put up.
When you are not at peace with who you are, and you’re operating mainly behind a front yourself, it’s difficult to see that others are doing the same. You want people to believe in the image you project of yourself, and you want to believe it yourself. Sometimes you do. You get so into your role, so invested in this image, that you blind yourself to what’s really going on.
You will see in others what they project to you. Your inability to go deeper and be honest about yourself affects how you see others. Unfortunately, that means you are blind to the fronts that other people might put up, as well. That guy who is always cocky or that girl who acts like she knows it all? You believe them. You don’t really see that they’re just trying to justify their own existence and hide their insecurities.
In the world of relationships, this blindness can be kind of scary, because the most troubled, insecure, and hurting people tend to put up rather big and bold fronts. If you can’t see through that, you might jump into a relationship that you think is with a confident, secure, stable person, inwardly hoping that they will balance out all your insecurity. Eventually you will find that they have the same insecurities and pains, and you can’t help each other until you both do a little inward healing and growing yourself.
3. You don’t have a life of your own yet.
Maybe you’re still depending on your parents.
Maybe your peers, best friends, your old relationships, or your co-workers are defining your lifestyle for you.
There is some person or group you depend on to tell you what you like, what you do, where you go, and what you’re about.
You have never stepped away long enough to develop your own interests and your own opinions. It’s probably because you’re still not at peace with who you are, so you’re not willing to step out there and say: this is what I’m about; this is what I like; this is who I am. You’re still trying to hold a front up and fulfill other people’s expectations.
It’s time to break free from that.
When you don’t have your own interests and your own life yet, you will be looking for a partner to provide those for you. But the truth is this: no one else can give you your own life. Only you can do that. And it’s only when you decide to do that, and start building a life of your own, that you will attract and recognize someone whose life is compatible with yours.
Not someone just like you. Not someone with a substitute life you can hide in. But someone whose life can complement yours, can mesh with it in good ways, while you also both maintain your own identities and interests.
You want to share certain core values and interests, and also have offshoots that are uniquely yours. This combination is what gives a relationship strength and solidarity (in shared interests and shared values) and enough breathing space and individuality (in the things that are each uniquely yours) that you can respect and value each other, long-term.
But you can’t get that kind of relationship unless you first know what you’re about, and can be at peace with who you are. Start working on accepting yourself and building a life you love, and see what happens.
Featured photo credit: kohlmann.sascha via flickr.com