These days, finding a relationship for keeps feels like a myth for some of us. Where do we meet people to begin with? And when we do meet them, is the timing ever right? Are we ever ready to be in a serious relationship that we won’t screw up before we even know it? Is there something wrong with us? Or are we just among those people who will never be in love, and should we just plainly accept that?
Whether you’ve been in multiple relationships that never felt “right” or you’ve never really been in one, the question as to why this is happening to you can frustratingly hang above your head or even weigh pretty heavy on your shoulders.
I am no stranger to this scenario, and neither are my friends. I’m quite well-versed at miserable musings as to why people leave so easily. And after years and years of not feeling worthy of something more than fleeting affections, I’m happy to share with you what I’ve discovered about finally landing on the holy grounds of real, for-keeps love.
So, why, for the longest time, couldn’t I be with someone who is right for me? The short but on-point answer is that I haven’t really gotten to know myself well enough yet. Okay, I’m sure that didn’t give you the bingo light bulb moment that you were expecting, but hear me out. Here’s a breakdown of this whole “getting to know yourself first” concept and why it’s a must if you want a relationship that’s way beyond fairytales and #couplegoals. (Trust me, the results are more satisfying this way.)
You don’t know what “right” is in your own terms.
Not to state the obvious, but how on earth can you find something “right” when you have no clue what “right” is? No, you’re not looking for some magical soulmate who has the same pretentious taste in music as you do. What you should be defining as “right” is someone (a real person, not a figment of your idealism) who can stick it out with you once you’ve dropped that whole cool chick vibe you got going on and turn into the chaotic human that you actually are and will see that you’re still tolerable and loveable no matter what. Because you – in all your messy glory – are the choice that they made, not the façade. At least that’s my kind of right. What’s yours?
You haven’t examined the kind of people you’re attracted to.
It is a psychological fact that we are drawn to the kind of relationships that we witnessed or experienced as children. So, yes, if you find yourself currently attracted to the emotionally unavailable, then chances are you didn’t receive much love growing up. That’s what’s familiar to you, so that’s what you seek. Nice guys are gross because you don’t have to beg for the bare minimum like you did with your parents. Clingy girls are only cute on social media, not in real life, because you don’t know what to do with all the attention that you never had before.
But is inaccessibility the right ingredient for the relationship that you deserve? Pay attention to what feels like “home,” because home was probably not the healthiest place for you to begin with. Let that sink in.
You haven’t dug deeper into your complexities.
According to my favorite philosopher Alain de Botton, the first question that we should be asking a potential partner is, “How are you mad?” Not to be biased, but this is the best thing that you can ever do if you want a higher success rate at finding the right relationship. None of us are perfect. And no matter how much we try to be in order to look impressive to the other party, eventually, our complexities will appear and bite us in the butt if we pretend that they’re not there or don’t know that they are even there at all.
Why do people leave you? It’s because you turn out to be someone different from what they expected. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no. Yes, because you probably weren’t honest to yourself and to them when you were getting to know each other. But, no, life doesn’t end there. If someone doesn’t stick around because they found out that you have a bad temper or you have tinier tits than what your Bumble photo suggests, then you are doing yourself a favor by letting them go because, like I said earlier, you are meant to be loved as the crazy, beautifully flawed human that you are. (Yes, I am the one with tinier tits than in the photo, and, guess what, someone still loves me, so there is hope, people!)
You aren’t friends with your madness.
Once you’ve found out how complex you are as a human, it’s time to be friends with the many idiotic parts of you. If you have tiny tits (like me,) own them. If you have a bad temper, learn to manage it. If you’re petty, give yourself a break and be petty all you want. If your “flaws” or “weaknesses” make you feel insecure, it’s time to learn how to accept them and not feel like you’re less of a deserving person just because you have them. Most of the time, we get scared of our own imperfections and mistakes that we think that we should run from ourselves before other people do. But once you stop running from yourself, they will stop running, too, you know?
You haven’t discovered your needs and boundaries.
I’ve discovered that to stay sane in a relationship, it’s important to know what you need and what you can’t tolerate. Do you need a kindred spirit who shares the same political views? Do you need a partner who can keep up with your career-centered lifestyle? Or do you just need someone who consistently wishes you “good night” without fail? (I do!)
Whether you think your needs are petty or not, you have to define what’s non-negotiable to you, and if the other party does not meet them, then you have a decision to make. The sooner you accept your needs can’t change and that you can’t change the other person, the sooner you can find someone else who fits better.
Yes, there are times when you can adjust. But you can’t keep overstretching your boundaries especially when it comes to the things that matter most to you. You’re not being difficult if you do that – you’re just being true to yourself because that’s the kind of relationship you deserve.
You haven’t met your most vulnerable self.
For those of us who have been hurt or abandoned in any way, then you’ve probably sworn to never open up like that ever again. But one of the most beautiful concepts I learned about being left behind is how we should move beyond the “break up” and let ourselves “break open” instead. It doesn’t have to involve another person right away. You just have to gently untangle your emotions and who you really are on your own.
Feel those feelings, and understand what they’re telling you, no matter how it hurts. Being vulnerable can be scary especially when we’re not acquainted with our innermost selves well enough. But the key to knowing the right relationship is knowing ourselves first. You can’t hold someone else’s hand when you haven’t held hands with your most vulnerable self in the deepest, darkest parts of your journey just yet. Once you’ve learned to embrace yourself and have your own back, then that’s the only time that the right person will come along.
I hope that these lessons made sense to you. But if not, perhaps, eventually you will realize the value of starting from within before baring yourself to another human. You can’t give what you don’t have, as they say. So love yourself first the way you want to be loved, and it will soon fall into place.
Come back here if you find out that my advice sucks, and we can discuss a compensation for all the trouble you had to go through. But, for now, hopping on that self-love train surely won't hurt. Best of luck!