As a Denver psychologist specializing in relationship support, the number one question I receive in my therapy sessions is “Why have I not found my life partner?” While the answer can certainly vary significantly from client to client, after a few sessions of discovering more about clients’ lives and challenges, the answer to this burning question is usually revealed in one of four categories:
It’s hard to know what lasting love and healthy relationship feels like. Finding and keeping true love is a great mystery of life and is something only felt, not clearly explained in any rule book or life manual. Your previous experiences of love in your life will fuel your expectations around what it should feel like with a partner -- including the relationships you witness amongst your parents, family, and friends.
Sometimes, you’ve experienced the intensity of less healthy, or even, destructive relationships and confuse this with love. So, when a partnership doesn't feel hot and sweeping, you might dismiss it as “not enough”. Or, when you’ve been in a series of relationships in which a partner was unavailable -- physically or emotionally -- distance might feel “normal” and transparency and vulnerability might seem “overwhelming”. Relationships should feel consistent, warm, and emotionally safe. Getting realistic about long-term partnership is an important step to welcoming it into your life.
It’s often helpful to keep an ongoing journal entry classifying the behaviors of partners into buckets of ones you truly want in a partner (such as empathy) vs. those that might be deal breakers (such as excessive partying). Don’t make this list too rigid, but do make it as specific as possible and refer to it as you evaluate potential mates to remind yourself which qualities help a relationship click for you, and which are often detrimental to long-term relationship happiness. And, as I mentioned in a previous blog on list-making, “if there are aspects on your list that don’t seem to be serving you, think about letting them go.”
While oftentimes we believe that having a fulfilling relationship is our top priority, it’s not often that way in practice. Relationships require sacrifice and time. Oftentimes, busy professionals, socialites, or people with a long list of hobbies might chose work, friends, or activities habitually, over making time for a relationship. It’s quite possible that you might have to let another commitment in your life go in order to make time for dating, and eventually, relationship.
When finding a life partner truly rises to the top of your priority list, it is paramount to actively search in the right places and make the relationship a priority over other commitments, while being conscious of healthy boundaries. Get honest with yourself and determine whether you have really carved out enough bandwidth in your life for a healthy relationship to take root and grow.
While the desire for a relationship and making the time for one are important components of finding your life-partner, selecting a mate who is a good fit is a critical piece of the puzzle. Adults all have a deep patterning tendency and chose similar partners oftentimes consistently. This potentially self-sabotaging behavior is often unconscious and is influenced by family, culture, community and society. Tune into your dating compass and leverage your intuition to understand how emotionally safe you truly feel with your mate.
Dating anxiety is a reality I often witness among clients. This worry leads to overthinking every detail of a courtship to the point that a potential partner retreats due to the sense the overwhelm. Not knowing how a partner truly feels or where the relationship is going can be a very unnerving experience. Like so much in life, it’s important to stay present to the experience without investing too much thought in the future, and let the relationship unfold as it’s meant to, without attachment to an ideal outcome. While it’s easier said than done, this important letting go gives the partnership the space and potential it needs to grow.
Any past emotional trauma, from a recent break-up to a childhood abandonment issue, can become a conscious or subconscious hurdle to current-day relationships. Any challenging relationship upset leaves an imprint and can affect your availability in new relationships due to a fear of repeating these upsetting past experiences. A way to identify whether you are challenged with this sort of trauma is reflecting upon times when you over-reacted to a seemingly minor infraction in your relationship. Highly emotional responses to minor incidences are oftentimes a reaction to the unresolved trauma related to the incident.
Emotional wounds not only cause painful memories, they may alter how you move forward in your life and in your relationships. They create minefields in your relationships if left unaddressed or untreated with the help of a professional.
Along these lines, the last break-up you experienced might also plague your ability to be “all in” with a potential mate. It’s important to seek closure in all ways possible and remove yourself from potentially triggering situations that might make you want to contact your ex.
Finding one’s life partner is oftentimes the most burning desire in life. While the media sometimes suggests this unfolding as a fairy-tale like love story, but it actually requires a complex integration of healing, reflecting, and rearranging.
Oftentimes, finding Mr. or Mrs. Right can be expedited with the help of a professional, trained to identify patterns and obstacles that chronically derail relationships. At Center for Shared Insight, we specialize in relationship therapy and helping you understand yourself, so you can better understand your partnership dynamics. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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