Kelly: The Rest of the Story
You recall Kelly’s dilemma with men. She couldn’t decide if she could simply go for the charm and get swept to who knows where. Or she should go with somebody with a stable set of virtues which she could always count on. Deep inside, she knew which one was a better option. But as we all know, the need to “feel good quickly and easily” is something that we have a tendency to fall for.
As Kelly learned to look more inside than outside to build her self-esteem, she also started to look at romantic relationships in a different light. As she went through her career as a nurse and got exposed to men from different backgrounds, she realized good choices are always out there. And she discovered that the men she wanted to be with should be able to contribute to her growth as a person. She recalled that Matt would often shower her with compliments, mostly about her looks, clothes, etc. But now, they sounded so hollow because they were not connected to the core person that she was and they definitely did not make her feel truly better about herself.
After finishing her nursing degree, Kelly did meet a man, Jeff, who was not only interested in her exterior, but also celebrated her core qualities. After the few months of dating, she also grew to respect him as a person and relationship.
Finding love with eyes wide open
As you can see, traveling on a path to finding true and lasting love can be difficult. Keeping your eyes wide open and using good reasoning in your decision making can definitely increase your chances of finding true love. Here is my suggested list of do's and don’ts.
Finding true love: Do's
Work on your personal growth. It’s always advantageous to deal from a position of strength. If you don’t feel good about yourself, and don’t put yourself in a good situation in life, you’re less likely to attract people with desirable qualities.
Treat everybody with respect. This is one of the most basic life principles we all should practice. You never know when and where you will meet the love of your life. By respecting people around you, you make yourself a more desirable human being.
Be real. If you are contemplating dating somebody, by hiding aspects of yourself you are potentially dooming your future relationship.
Don’t expect to change anybody. No amount of love is capable of changing somebody’s core character. So don’t get far into a relationship if you see red flags. Women, especially, are more prone to falling into illusion that she will be the “exception” who will change the man and live happily ever after. Not every frog can turn into a prince!
Be selective. If you truly want to find lasting love, you should not be wasting time dating just for the sake of dating. Realize when you’re dating somebody who does not fit your “bill”, you are depriving yourself of the opportunities to meet other more desirable people.
Be clear about what you want. In my opinion, this is the most problematic issue with people. You should be very clear as to what you’re looking for. It’s prudent to be a little flexible, but it’s not to be wide open.
Finding true love: Don’ts
Do not settle: Once you have established a set of qualities you want in your true love, you should wait to date until you have met someone who is closer to what you want.
Remember, it is better to be in no relationship than to be in a bad one. Patience pays off.
Do not get seduced by skills. I talked earlier about virtues versus skills.
Charm will always fade away, but virtues will never lose value.
Do not shack up. In my opinion, it is almost never a good idea for a couple who is dating to live together. And yes, I do know of couples for whom it worked just fine. But I know a much larger number of couples for whom it was catastrophic. If you want to play the odds, be smart about it. See, when you live together you are creating a marriage without any commitments. If you keep your eyes and ears open and pay attention to red flags, you can still get to know a person rather well without having to live together.
Do not rush into physical intimacy. This is especially true for women. Let’s face it. Men and women have different views of intimacy. As I stated earlier, for most women, it’s a symbol of emotional closeness, whereas for most men, it is a symbol of conquest. So please take your time to get to know the other person. If a man is truly interested in a woman as a person, he’s not going to push or manipulate her into physical intimacy.
Do not be dishonest about your past relationships. I have often seen marriages and serious relationships suffer drastically because a partner purposely hid certain aspects of past romantic relationships. Understand, lasting relationships can only be built upon trust. That means, you should not hide from your partner even things or events which you’re not particularly proud of.
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.