Humans are psychologically programmed for companionship. This is both good and bad: "Good" because we are geared toward partnerships, cooperation and community, and "bad" because we can be so afraid of losing what we have (even when it's not right), that we become complacent. In other words, we settle.
Do you know why the divorce rate is so high in the western world (more than 50% of marriages end in divorce)? Because we are all keyed-in to companionship, our very psychology undermines our ability to discern who may be "right" for the long haul. Partnerships help us build strong financial foundations. We can expand our social network as well. There is strength in numbers, after all. But if you settle (or pick someone because they picked you, or, lack the confidence to put yourself out there...or maybe you meet the right person but come up with unreasonable reasons like "bad timing"), you will eventually be unhappy. Really unhappy.
Unconditional love of the self is your shield and your guide when it comes to love relationships. But, what does that really mean???
Until you love yourself, you can never really love anyone else. Loving yourself means knowing you are worthy of real love with a person who genuinely cares for you, wants you, and appreciates all you are. Those people exist. However, you sometimes have to leave your comfort zone to find them. In fact, you ALWAYS do. If you want a quick shag, swipe right on Tinder. More quick shags lead to shacking up for weekends to binge-watch whatever, then, moving in together to "share expenses." Eventually, you'll end up married with kids--all because you were horny one Saturday night and went the lazy-route, allowing complacency to take over once you found a convenient "system" to plug into. Guess what? It won't be convenient in 5-7 years when you are unhappy (if you're still together). And, at that stage, you may not be able to get divorced or separate for financial reasons. Unless you both work at jobs where you make equivalent salaries and own a home worth $400,000 or more, your standard of living will be cut in half--not to mention all the social scrutiny from family members and friends alike.
The above is EXACTLY why you have to love yourself enough to wait for a person who is your person. You don't have to be lonely while you wait. But you can't let social anxiety or the expectations of others surrounding your life dictate your relationships--especially the relationship you have with yourself. When you settle in any partnership, it eats away at your self-esteem...little by little, you feel less and less valuable as a human being.
If you give yourself away at a deep discount, it's only natural that you'll begin to feel depressed. Eventually, you'll believe you don't deserve more than you have. Or, you'll feel as though your unhappiness is based on a lack of gratitude, entirely forgetting that you were never really happy to begin with.
We lie to survive when we are vulnerable. The moment you settle, you automatically become vulnerable to vertical relationships and the unhealthy codependencies that come with them. Being codependent means you can't leave your partner, even if some part of you wants to. Badly. The abuse is usually financial, to start. But eventually, it evolves into an unhealthy emotional attachment as well. Unhealthy because, you are asked to be smaller than you are. Typically, the malignant partner (or the partner who is in control), requires the vulnerable partner to give up job and educational opportunities to keep them weak and needy. You can't leave if you can't get a job, can you? And, you can't get a job if your partner puts parameters on where you can work, when you can work, etc..
Even if you are brave enough to leave, you'll eventually have to return to the vertical relationship if you've been controlled financially--which is the whole point.
Change starts with being honest with yourself.
We can only be honest with ourselves when we adopt unconditional love. Oddly enough, unconditional love starts with the truth. The moment you have the guts to admit to yourself that you entered into a relationship for the wrong reasons, you get a little more free. Perpetuating the lie you forced yourself to live with just to survive your own life is part of self-sabotage--you may have seen similar behavior from a parent growing up. Or, you are projecting the traits of a parent onto yourself--perhaps someone looked down on within your social circle or larger society. That's part of self-awareness, or mindfulness--which can only be achieved through honesty. So much of the dissatisfaction people feel comes from a lack of confidence and self-esteem. When you're tired of playing the victim, you'll stop. Until then, you'll continue believing the narrative you created surrounding your own life. Do people victimize others? Absolutely! And, it does take time to deal with those negatives--or, the circumstances beyond our control. But if you are lucky enough to have the Universe deliver love to you, don't let it go in order to hold on to victimhood.
Why choose an adequate life when you can live an extraordinary one???
We sometimes fall into the trap of "surviving." But surviving isn't enough. We have opposable thumbs and complex brains so we may not just survive, but THRIVE.
As we swiftly move toward the new year, I'd encourage each of you to inch your way toward at least being honest with yourselves. Once you understand your true motivations, you can actually find what you both need and want in a love relationship. That might mean getting on a plane and traveling. It could mean changing your life in ways you never thought possible or probable. But, so what??? Thinking of life through a context of "convenience" is part of surviving, not thriving. If you listen to the most successful people in the world today, every single one describes "thinking outside of the box," "going the distance," "push(ing) yourself beyond your limits," and last but not least, the benefits of "being consistent."
You become successful in both business and love in much the same way:
Have a willingness to put it all on the line and take risks. Push yourself to get out there. Learn to communicate better so you can expand your world. Stop clinging to unhealthy attachments. Leave your comfort zone. Go to another country if you have to. Remember, you're not a coyote. You don't have to be opportunistic in matters of love. You are worth more! If you want to have fun, have fun--but be upfront about it. If the person comes back for more, it may be your person. If they don't come back but you can't stop thinking of them, reach out. Be honest. If they match your enthusiasm, you've struck relationship-gold. Remain consistent and you'll have a lifetime's worth of real love--lucky you! Not a bad way to start the new year....
When you look for love, you will find it. But in my experience, the real deal tends to find you. Just keep pushing until you meet the person who fits. Even if there are initial challenges like distance, that's easy enough to overcome. Maybe one person has to move and it takes some time to get a job lined up, etc.. Hey, if you want convenience, order a pizza. Love relationships--the epic kind--require the same level of commitment to success as building a business and/or brand. I sometimes work 20-hour days--no joke. But I've also had books on The New York Times bestseller list. That's not a fluke or an accident or "fate." That's me, working my ass off every damn day--for decades. If you want that level of success in your romantic partnerships, you may have to be willing to fly halfway around the world. You also have to be willing to stop cashing in on short-term benefits because they often sacrifice long-term gains.
I've never seen the value in settling based on proximity. That's like dating someone in a connecting cubicle simply because it's convenient (aka easy). Where is our sense of adventure in the 21st century??? Technology seems to have numbed that sensibility. When you can get it by simply plugging a game system into your TV, the thought of taking on real-life risks is far less appealing.
Relationships should not be equivalent to stopping at a 7-Eleven and picking up a Pepsi! That's the kind of thinking that got you in trouble in the first place. If you want convenience/ease, you don't really want happiness. The best people are never easy. Never convenient. You always have to work a little harder to get something (or someone) of value. So stop settling for "good enough."
Good enough is NEVER good enough!
When you love yourself first and foremost, you'll work hard to get the happiness in both love and life that you truly deserve. Even if takes a lifetime. Even if you have to survive the unsurvivable. Even if you have to beat the odds over and over and over again until you want to scream. Just keep going. Don't stop! Not until you find the right person. And, when you find them, be a solution-seeker, Stay positive. Be consistent. Express your feelings--why not? You have nothing to lose. Not really. If you are baller enough to go after what you want, you can get it. When someone is for you, they don't disappear. That person should match your enthusiasm and your ability to mobilize so you can actually build the relationship. That said, avoid anyone who tries to limit you. People who use limits are controlling. Guess what? You're not a child anymore. If you are a healthy, employed adult over 30, you don't need to be told what you can and can't do.
Be with someone who is open and honest. Controlling people always have something to hide and will always find a way to hold you emotional hostage as a result--this leads to a lifetime of uncertainty. But we all need consistency to be successful. When a person is as serious about you as you are about them, they will consistently show up in your life. You will not be asked to wait and wonder/wander. You will be given the respect you deserve. Period.
It's my wish for all my lovely readers that in the coming year, you are brave enough to seek the truth in your own hearts so you can then find the one true heart you both desire and deserve.
Why shoot for the moon when there's a whole Universe waiting???
Never just settle for landing among the stars--instead, count them as you whiz by. There are bigger and better worlds full of new possibilities beyond our own galaxy (or front door, as the case may be). A person who is just surviving will always cling to the familiar while a person who knows how to thrive will not just reach for the stars--she'll soar right past them!