Emily is a girl who's tired of dating. She's attractive, intelligent, has a stable career, steady income, and a good group of friends. When it comes to her romantic life, however, she can't seem to get it right. Guys come and go in her life; with each new person and promising date, her hopes rise and she sees the potential of a future unfolding. She imagines her and her new beau getting closer, increasingly spending more and more time together doing activities, socializing with friends and relaxing on Sunday afternoons with a cup of tea and a good movie. Eventually, she fantasizes, he'll propose, we'll get married, buy a house and have a lovely family.
The colour seems to fill back into her life as she dreams about the bright future ahead, the potential chance at her own happily ever after. But almost as soon as she lets her dreams percolate, the guy once again breaks off the relationship. She's lovely, they all say, she's a really nice girl, it's not her, they explain. For one reason or another something is always just not quite right, and relationship after relationship ends prematurely before her dreams actualize.
Her friends always console her - he just didn't see the potential in you, he's afraid of commitment, he's too immature, he's afraid of having a real relationship - and on and on the reassurances go. But Emily, can no longer deny it, she has become tired of the old patterns, blaming the guys' shortcomings no longer suffices. She's begun to wonder, could it be her? Is there something she's doing to recreate the same scenario over and over again with every new guy? Is she the problem?
Can you see yourself in Emily? If so...
First of all acknowledge to yourself that you don't have to get it all at once (i.e. the marriage, kids, house) to feel like you have fulfilled your happily ever after story. This realisation is key. Sometimes people think that the goal is the family, kids and husband, but if that is the goal that you are reaching for, you're striving for the wrong results. And that may be at the root of your problem.
Let me explain.
The foundation of family, children and the happily ever after picture should be, first and foremost, built on a firm relationship of love, trust and intimacy between two individuals. The goal, therefore, should first be developing a deep of connection with another person.
The outcome of that connection can then be marriage and family. However, when you make kids and family the goal, you sometimes lose sight of the key components of a relationship. In this sense the dating and getting to know each other part almost becomes a chore until the "real stuff" happens. This is where the problem lies. The foundation of the relationship is shaky and without a solid base the person you're dating can easily get bored, lose interest, or worse, get distracted by another person. In any case their commitment to the relationship will not be strong and they will be more likely to leave.
So how can you fix this?
1. Start by practicing building deep connections. Seek to genuinely understand and be understood by someone; discuss topics that actually matter to the both of you.
2. Don't avoid conflict. It's during conflicts that we feel the most open and vulnerable. Therefore, these moments, if managed skilfully, hold the most potential for creating depth in a relationship.
3. Respect yourself and the other person - don't convince others or let yourself be convinced of going along with things that don't feel quite right.
4. Practice adoring and being adored - look for couples who adore each other, not just focus on friends who are married with kids.
5. Be playful, have fun, enjoy the time you date, as you become clearer and clearer about the qualities you desire from your ideal partner; nowadays, people often treat dates like job interviews.
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