If you met the love of your life today, would you be ready?
Trick question. I don’t believe we only get one true love.
I think if you have love in your life, that’s the love of your life in that moment, kind of like having a body in a bikini means you have a bikini body.
You’d think I’d be more of a hopeless romantic since my parents were married for 46 blissful years before my mom died suddenly of an aneurism. They were best friends and madly in love every day of their marriage. When mom died, so many of people remarked that the sweetest love story they’d ever witnessed just ended. Now five years later, my dad is dating again. No, it’s not the passionate love my parents had but it gives me hope for the resilience of the human heart.
So even if you’ve fallen madly in love and it didn’t work out – don’t despair. You have yet to meet the next love of your life. Will you be ready? Here are 5 ways to make sure you’re stacking the odds in your favor.
1. Get your priorities straight
Figure out what’s important to you in terms of faith, finances and family. And get those things right in your own life so you’ll recognize them in your potential partner.
While the fairytales we grew up on make it sound romantic to be rescued by a prince from whatever bad situation you’re stuck in, the reality is that it’s much better to create a life that works for you then find someone who fits into it. Someone who doesn’t may be a red flag.
To get there, one of the Aunt-bassadors, Jessica recommends that you practice daily self-awareness. “I have gotten to know myself so much better the last two years. I am much more capable of communication with others in a loving and compassionate way because of it. Self-care plays into this as well. Take time to know yourself!”
And this doesn’t stop just because you’re with someone. You’re not just “killing time” between romantic relationships. Clair, a writer and freelance journalist suggests, “Continue to date yourself, even if it’s just a hot bath and glass of wine (or tea or coffee). You don’t (and shouldn’t) stop being you when you’ve partnered up.”
2. Learn to be alone.
Can’t. Emphasize. This. Enough. If you can’t be alone, you make bad decisions and cling out of fear. You don’t know your own heart. The Aunt-bassadors agree.
Eunice, a working mom with two young kids, says, “Live alone. Learn how to be whole on your own. I lived alone for many years. I was my own bug catcher, trash man, coffee maker and lonely party of one at restaurants. Now that I have someone to share a life with, more than just living quarters, I’m glad I had that time to myself to learn that I am resilient and far more confidant than I was giving myself credit for.”
Melissa, a yoga teacher in her early 30’s who’s headed to Argentina this week, says, “Have at least one big adventure solo. A big trip, learning a new skill, starting a business – however you define that for yourself. So crucial to have a big life experience totally by oneself.”
3. Find your tribe
A good support system is crucial. Healthy relationships with your friends will be a template for what to look for with the love of your life.
As Kristin F, a graphic designer and illustrator in her early 30’s, puts it, “Build a tribe so you can know what love is. I didn’t realize that love doesn’t hurt until I was 27. My tribe treats me like the Queen of Sheba. And now I don’t expect any less. They taught me how to love myself and that I was worthy of love and respect. Also find a friend that will help you bury a body in case shit doesn’t work out.”
Kristin is hilarious if you hadn’t already guessed. You definitely want someone like her in your tribe.
4. Learn to manage your mental health
Relationships are hard enough without adding unmanaged anxiety, stress, depression or addictions into the mix. Don’t start a relationship as the walking wounded. And be wary of a partner who isn’t dealing with his or her own issues.
The key word here is “managing.” I’m not saying people with mental health issues can’t have successful, positive relationships, but dating can magnify some of the challenges you face. Talk to a therapist to make sure you’re in a good headspace for your next relationship.
Maree, a PR specialist, mentions an aspect of your mental health you might not have thought of. “On the heels of loving yourself and knowing who you are, I’d add that a woman should know who she is sexually too (yep, I’m going there): What you like, dislike, are willing/not willing to do or try and what you expect from a partner in this department. This includes dealing with any sexual issues from your past.”
5. Take responsibility for your own happiness
“You complete me” has become a rom com cliché, but the best relationships involve two complete persons coming together to complement each other. You need to know what happiness looks and feels like for you, outside a relationship before you can really experience it within one. If you’re thinking, “Yeah, but finding the love of my life will make me happy,” you’re putting a ton of pressure on your relationship before you even swipe right. Just like people who think winning the lottery, hitting their goal weight or getting their dream job means instant, unending happiness, life just doesn’t work out that way.
Morgan advises, “Make sure you love yourself! Yes, this can take a long time but you really can’t let anyone love you completely or love them completely if you don’t love yourself. Tip: practice a morning or nighttime routine of telling yourself the things you like about yourself not just on the outside but the inside too!
Mary, a mother of three adds, “Know who you are. Love who you are. Feel complete. Be comfortable with your body. Don’t expect to change someone to suit you, or vice versa. Lastly, remember you’re fearfully and wonderfully made.”
My friend Peggy sums up your pre-love to-do list beautifully: “Learn to love yourself. Realize your worth. Don’t accept less than you deserve.”
So are you ready to find the love of your life? What are you doing in the meantime?