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February 7, 2019

The Truth About Finding the One This Valentine’s Day

“I just can’t figure out what’s wrong with me. I know Valentine’s Day is commercial or whatever, but it still kind of sucks to be reminded of how alone I really feel. I thought things would be different this year, but no matter what I change it feels like nothing really changes.”

I hear this some version of this statement from beautiful, incredible people all the time. And I know they say it because we’ve been told a lie. We believe with the newest makeup and perfect butt workout we can earn the right to be loved. If only we can learn to send the wittiest text or take the sexiest profile pic, then we can land our soul mate. So, we focus on our imperfections and change something, anything in hopes of being loved. Most of us are too highly evolved to read “11 Psychological Tricks to Get a Guy to Like You” or at least we are socially evolved enough to not share it on social media. But, something inside of us still thinks we need to change ourselves a million different ways to have any chance at a successful relationship. I’m a huge fan of self-improvement and a die hard believer that we should spend our lives growing. However, I am also keenly aware of how the desire to improve ourselves can be used against us in the wrong relationship.

People love based on who they are, not who you are.  

There is an old saying that it takes “two to tango” but my life, my friendships, and my work have revealed that while it definitely takes two people to make a relationship, it only takes one person to break a relationship. If you have been in a toxic relationship where you changed yourself a thousand different ways in the hopes of being loved then it may be time for a reset button. There are people out there that would not have been able to love you no matter how loveable you were! Some people simply aren’t good at loving. They may be charming, or successful at work, or exciting, but that doesn’t make them good at loving.  

Unfortunately, being in one relationship where someone wasn’t good at loving does not necessarily save you from experiencing another unhealthy relationship. In fact, many people leave one unhealthy relationship and get into another one because not being loved well feels normal by now. This means we miss red flags that others see and put up with things that would feel abnormal to others.  So, what do you look for after being in a relationship with someone who wasn’t good at loving? Check out these three ways to push the reset button and help you recognize someone who is capable of a healthy partnership:

  1. Stop asking yourself “What’s wrong with me?”

There is something that is wrong with you. And wrong with me. And wrong with everyone. However, if you have been in a relationship where there were a thousand things wrong with you and nothing wrong with the other person then you were with someone who wasn’t good at loving. In fact, your relationship was probably toxic. It doesn’t however mean you aren’t worthy of love or that you should change everything about yourself. Conventional wisdom tell us to work on our weaknesses, but people choose to date you (or hire you!) based on your strengths. Don’t lead in life or love with what is wrong with you. Get secure in what is right with you and choose a partner who is comfortable celebrating your strengths. A person who is good at loving will be comfortable enough with themselves to handle your strengths and work through your weaknesses. They won’t see you as a project that they can tweak to fit their ideal partner. They will see you as your own person who they are lucky to get to do life with!

  1. Learn to play by the same set of rules.

Playing by the same set of rules is one of the first things we learn in kindergarten. Taking turns, being kind, and playing fair aren’t just fabulous rules for a classroom they are also the indicators of a healthy relationship. People who aren’t good at loving don’t feel like they have to play by the same set of rules. You need to change, they don’t. You aren’t allowed to have friends outside of the relationship, they are.  You aren’t allowed to be late, but they are. You aren’t supposed to have a bad day, but you are supposed to support them in their bad days. Their interests, problems, and moods trump yours. Your iPhone becomes a WePhone. Their anger is acceptable and yours is not. They can critique your clothes, your intellect, and your background, but you find yourself sick at your stomach when you have to bring up any of their faults because you know it will result in a blow up. People who aren’t good at loving don’t look for win/win solutions, they look for ways to always win. If you have experienced this in a relationship than know that a healthy relationship involves two people playing by the same set of rules. Finding someone who is good at loving means that what is okay for you is okay for me.

  1. Recognize everyone should get a turn at the top.

Everyone has bad days and everyone goes through difficult times. Finding someone who is good at loving means that there are certain times that their needs will take a backseat to your needs. If you are good at loving then at times your needs will take a backseat to theirs. This seems like common sense, but so many of us carry around the idea that within a relationship we are solely responsible for our problems yet we are also responsible for our partner’s problems. And, we have somehow convinced ourselves that we are being good if we don’t bring any needs to the relationship. If you are in a relationship where your loved one is always on top then your relationship is toxic. If you have experienced a toxic partner or parent then you may be trained to always put the other person before yourself. This is a long term recipe for disaster, pain and toxicity. A person who is good at loving will have times that they need to be on top, but will also be willing to take the backseat when your own problems arise.

We all want to feel adored and special. We want to be someone’s world. And, it is so intriguing to try to take a man or woman who isn’t good at loving, attempt to be their savior and change them into a person who loves us well. We think if we can be patient enough and help them then they will recognize our worth and never leave us. We think we will be safe. Yet…this strategy is clearly not working.

People love based on who they are, not who you are. If you have not been loved well it is not because you are unlovable. It is because you have not found someone good at loving. Be kind to yourself and know that you could not have done anything differently to try to earn his or her love. Some people cannot love, they can only pretend to love to get what they want. Some people don’t long to connect, they long to control. For some people their goal is not to love, but to use. Their lack of love was not your fault. Forgive yourself and let it go. Stop being haunted by questions of “Why” and start focusing on “What.” Why they are bad at loving is not your mystery to unravel and not your problem to solve. Focus on what they are saying and doing now. They didn’t love you badly because you were not worth loving well. They loved you badly because they are bad at loving. They don’t know how to love, they only know how to use. The secret to finding the one is knowing the difference between people who are good at loving and people aren’t and always remembering that people love because of who they are not because of who you are.

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Sarah K Ramsey  |  Contribution: 5,945