For those of us who are open to finding love the second (or third, fourth, etc.) time around, I can tell you from experience the journey requires patience, clarity of priorities, and if necessary, even some personal development to make sure we ourselves match up to the characteristics we are hoping to find someone else! In this post, I’d like to share a few ideas that Psychiatrist Silvano Arieti and his son James wrote several decades ago, in their book entitled Love Can Be Found, published in 1977 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. I always return to these guidelines because they ground me and make so much sense, even today. I have listed some of them here, along with a few of my own reflections, and then I end with a few final thoughts that occurred to me. As always, I welcome your comments if you’d care to share your own journey for attracting–not chasing—romantic love.
- Overcome your personal fears. By that was meant the fear of rejection, the fear of commitment, the fear of not finding love. Once you decide you are open to finding love, you must gather the courage to follow through.
- Believe in your self-worth and dignity. Know that you will make someone a wonderful companion, and do not think you have to be perfect in looks, intelligence, or in any other way. Have faith in your own value and the dignity to acknowledge your limitations.
- Exposure. If you want love, realize that it is not about to come knocking at your door. You need to actively put yourself in settings where you at least have a likelihood of meeting a partner. Socializing is important for our mental well-being in general.
- Don’t look for the impossible. While you shouldn’t “settle” for someone who is not right for you (or who is not “right” period); neither should your expectations be that you would find someone who is perfect–because none of us are.
- Don’t rush to either accept or reject someone. Sometimes people are nervous in the beginning. Other times, though they may not be a physical attraction at first, charm eventually makes a person more attractive in our eyes. Give him/her a chance before saying NEXT.
- Don’t misrepresent yourself. You want a person who is RIGHT for you, so why would you pretend you are someone you are not and preclude any chance they will be a match for the real you?
- Ask yourself if there is a repelling pattern (rejection) that YOU need to work on. Are potential partners telling you the same thing that perhaps you do all the talking, or you look bored when they are talking? While you should not try to be someone you are not, that doesn’t mean you should try to be YOUR personal best. We all have minor (or major) flaws we can work on to improve.
- Don’t expect success every time. Take your time and enjoy meeting new people and getting out there. You don’t have to rush into anything, especially when you know you are fine with or without a partner, and can love your own company. I look at dating as a fascinating chance to meet new people. There are no losers when you decide to just enjoy the process. And who knows, one day, there may be that special person…who makes your heart flutter again.
A few final thoughts on an Italian perspective I was taught from a young age. As the Roman Poet OVID said: “Sii amabile se vuoi essere amato;” Be lovable if you want to be loved. Here are a few tips that speak to that theme.
- Avoid having an argumentative personality. You don’t’ have to win every debate. Remove your porcupine quills and replace them with a fuzzy warm blanket—the kind that invites, not repels a potential love interest. Be interesting and kind, not abrasive.
- Tend to Your Appearance: No, this doesn’t mean you have to dress to the nines every time you leave the house, but tending to our appearance is just a part of good self-care. It shows respect for the bodies we were given when we groom and dress them nicely; and looking our best on the outside, fosters self-confidence on the inside.
- Get over past baggage. I once had a friend who held a torch for his ex-girlfriend for several years after she left him to marry someone else! Granted, his heart was broken, and professional help may have been useful in putting it back together faster than the passage of time alone was able to do. Don’t think of dating as a potential remedy for emotional issues you have not resolved. I have come to believe we all have a story. Whether widowed like me, divorced, childhood issues—or whatever the issue—it is not fair to a potential newcome to your love life, to bring them into negativity or emotional instability that has not been worked through. It is important to get the help you need to come to be able to start fresh on the road to finding love. One of the biggest turnoffs across my dating experiences is sitting down with a new acquaintance who spends precious time badmouthing his ex-wife or former lover. Not cool. Leave the past behind, except for the lessons you learned that have hopefully helped you to become a better (wiser, smarter, stronger, etc) person and potential partner for someone else.
- Frequent NEW venues. You have been going to the same supermarket for years and haven’t met anyone. Get bold. Go to the market in the next town. Go to a farmers’ market, join a book club, get curious about an antique car show or fly fishing demonstration. But don’t just go there—make eye contact and start a conversation with one or two people. At the very least you may make a new friend, and you may even win the jackpot of love.
Finally, don’t get discouraged and don’t think you have to settle. The older I get, the more I find my time to be so valuable that I don’t want to waste it on go-nowhere coffee dates or even video chats with someone whose values clash with mine; or with someone whose personality is not harmonious with mine. In my opinion it is important to be just as content with your life without a partner, as you would be with one.
©Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D., LLC 20
BONUS READ–enjoy my latest column in l’idea Magazine by clicking HERE.