What happened to Kelly?
As you recall, Kelly had her first heartbreak at age 22. She was feeling cheated and used. She was not feeling good about herself at all and didn’t believe any man would ever love her again. What she didn’t know was that she had not experienced true love yet. She was more infatuated with Matt than she was in love with him. She was too needy emotionally. And that’s why it was convenient for her to fall for somebody like Matt.
Kelly had something great going for her though. She had a great set of parents. They stuck with her, guided her, and got her the professional help she needed. With the help of a competent counselor at our clinic, Kelly was gently placed on the path of self- appreciation. As she slowly came out of the depth of depression, self-pity and low-esteem; she decided to pursue a career in nursing. She was attractive and always got attention from men. Given her experience with Matt, now she was always suspicious of men and their intentions. Now at age 32, when she looks back, she knows that she missed out on potentially having wonderful relationships with some very honorable men because her experience with Matt colored her thinking and perception.
While she was in nursing school, she did try to date a few men, but she felt very confused as to what she was looking for. Men, she was physically attracted to, reminded her of Matt. And men who were much nicer to her than Matt was, didn’t seem to give her the same kind of visceral reaction when she first met Matt.
How to find true and lasting love
In order to find true and lasting love, I earnestly believe, that one has to truly love and respect him or herself. Of course, other steps need to be taken to achieve this goal also.
Be in a good place: It is rather unlikely for us to attract self-sufficient, wholesome people if we ourselves are not in a good place in our lives. It is essential to be able to look at ourselves objectively and honestly. It is also critical to be willing to make changes to achieve growth not only as an individual, but also in a mutually beneficial manner when you begin a relationship. It does take a lot of courage to look in the mirror and recognize our flaws. Also remember no man or woman is capable of filling any gaps in your self-worth. I am not saying that we should make ourselves feel perfect because nobody is; but you must be at peace with yourself.
Know who and what you want: Most people date people who happen to be around them or based on who is “fun” to be with. Most of us never take the time to have a clear understanding of what kind of person we could have a true and lasting love with. Think about it. Finding your life partner may be one of the most crucial tasks in your life, but we hardly plan for it. On the contrary, most people hope for, “something to happen” between them and people they hang out with. That is definitely not the recipe for true and lasting love. There is definitely a big chance factor involved in romantic relationships but you don’t want to leave everything to chance. Therefore, you should be very clear about the essential qualities that you desire in the love of your life. There should also be a list of desirable, but not essential qualities.
Be Patient: You should not “settle” for whoever is around even if he or she does not have the essential qualities you desire. Even after you meet somebody desirable, you should take your time to get to know that person because as we discussed before, it does take time to fully understand people. I also strongly believe that observing people in different situations (not just going out or doing fun things together) sheds much clearer light on a person’s personality and character.
Look for virtues, not skills: It is every woman’s dream to find Prince Charming, but remember this concept comes from fairy tales and not from real life stories. So it is not surprising that even the most attractive, smart and accomplished women often complain that there aren’t many good men out there. Trust me, they are out there; you just aren’t looking for them. Remember we can always count on people’s virtues when it comes to relationships. Skills can only go so far.
Expanding your choices: In order to increase your chances of finding that special person, you should not limit your dating to only very familiar people in your life. Expand your horizons beyond ethnicity, neighborhoods, congregation, age groups, etc. Your ideal life partner should not be just like you, instead should be able to offer complimentary qualities. And be reminded, diversity always brings greater possibilities.
The purpose of this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or psychiatric issue. Dr. Rakesh Ranjan is a practicing psychiatrist and a researcher. He is a recipient of several research awards and has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapter on psychiatric illnesses and their treatments. He is a national speaker for several organizations and serves on the medical advisory board for NAMI for Greater Cleveland. If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms that would lead you to believe that there could be a mental imbalance, please email your questions to Dr. Ranjan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each Wednesday, Dr. Ranjan will address some of these questions in this column. All contact info will be kept confidential.