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Relationships: Finding a Great Partner

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

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Finding a great partner involves two parts: being a good mate yourself and looking for someone who is as much like you as possible.

These two parts interact and affect each other. For example, the second part relates to the adage, “Birds of a feather flock together.” There's a lot of truth to this old saying.

But what about another old adage — that opposites attract? Yes, they do attract, but in the long run, they don’t fair very well. So we are looking for someone who is as much like us as possible. But, we first need to look at ourselves: if we are a great partner who is loving, kind, supportive, listening, taking good care of ourselves, being healthy, being happy, and so on, that is what we are going to attract. However, if we are dysfunctional and struggling, then that’s also what we’re going to attract. So yes, it is so important to find someone like us, but we also need to be like someone we want to find. Let’s look at these ideas more closely.

We need to be the kind of partner we want. We need to be in a place that’s healthy and to take care of ourselves. If we don’t do that, then we will attract someone who is unhealthy and isn’t taking care of himself or herself. Now this isn’t an absolute guarantee, but the way to avoid dysfunctional relationships is by being that healthy person because if we are we will not be attracted to dysfunction. We may date it, but we won’t date it for very long. It will quickly end. This could also apply to friendships and family. If we are healthy, we won’t put up with dysfunction. It just won’t be very attractive to us, and when it occurs, we will just set up boundaries. The boundaries could include not allowing others to continue to hurt us, ending some situations, and so on. In dating, we will quickly end dysfunctional situations because even if dysfunctional behavior isn’t initially directed at us, eventually it probably will be.

We each function within a metaphorical behavior bubble. Within each bubble there are very specific rules that we all follow. It indicates how we treat ourselves, as well as others. So, for example, if we are harsh on ourselves when we make mistakes, then we’re going to be harsh to others. We sometimes let people into our bubbles. We get married, and our spouse enters the bubble. We have children, and they enter our bubble. When others do, we start treating them the way we treat ourselves. Let’s say a couple is dating, and the man is very romantic. He gives his girlfriend flowers, writes her poetry, and says a lot of endearing things to her. They get married, and then everything changes. What happened is that it isn’t the love that lasted. He was treating her like he wanted to be treated. He didn’t want flowers, he didn’t want poetry, so he doesn't recite verses to her anymore. He still cared for her but in the same way that he cared for himself. So when we’re dating, we have to watch out for this.

How people treat themselves and other people indicates how they might treat us. How are they treating their friends, their family, and most important, how are they treating themselves? When they make a mistake, do they angrily punish themselves? What is their self-talk like? It may not be easy to pick up on that, but if we observe, if we take our time, the truth will unfurl, and we’ll begin to see how they treat themselves. Then we’ll begin to see how they interact with our world. When someone hurts them, do they get really angry or upset? When they go through a tragedy, how do they treat themselves? When we have an argument with them, how do we interact during that argument? This isn’t that hard to figure out; it just takes time. So let’s give ourselves time; that’s probably one of the most important things we can do. The longer we take to get to know someone before we decide to commit a life to this person, the better we feel.

How others treat us does matter. We’re not going to marry or get into a serious relationship with another if the person is treating us poorly. But most important, we have to look at how they treat themselves. If they’re treating themselves in a harsh way, sooner or later that’s going to be directed at us. We have to be honest. So often I see people expect they can change their partners’ bad behavior. It is far better to assume that whatever is happening is going to stay that way or perhaps even become worse. If they drink too many beers, if they yell at people too often, if they’re stuck in their job and seem depressed, that’s probably going to be their way for the rest of their lives. No matter how much we love them, we can’t change them very much. I make a living trying to help people change themselves because I stay neutral while they decide and work to change. But in a relationship with someone with bad habits, any motivation to change his or her behavior has to come from that person and not from someone else. And often, people stay the same.

Look at what relationship you have and ask yourself, “Do I want to spend my life with this, or am I hoping to change my partner?” If you do, then drop that. They may not be the perfect person for you if you want your partner to be different.

If we can live with the other’s differences, if we can live with him or her — warts and all — then great. If we can’t, we need to decide whether to stay in the relationship or not.

One other common mistake I see is that while people are looking for the right partner, they hang onto an old relationship. Lots of people do this. I used to do a show called the Holistic Success Show, and I had the number one relationship blogger in the world on my show. He said the very same thing—what most men do is stay in old relationships that are going nowhere while they’re hoping to find another one. What he and I encourage is to end the relationship and be single so you can find someone you are looking for without sabotaging new relationships because you’re hanging onto the old one. You need to let it go and work on being single. It’s healthy to be single. It’s good for you to be by yourself and enjoy that solitude. When we’re single and are able to be in that state, we’re not going to feel panicky or make bad choices. We need to be happy with ourselves before we find our partner. If we can’t be alone, then we probably won’t be a very good partner.

Part two in finding great partners and friends involves looking for others who are as similar to us as possible. How do we find these birds of a feather? I suggest four things:

1. Do what you do with passion and seek others doing the same.
2. Use friends to expand your relationship circle.
3. Be open to using the Internet.
4. Trust that all will work out.

Number one is to do what we do, do it passionately, and then look for people that are doing it too. Passion in what we do attracts others, and by engaging in what we love to do, we attract others who are similar to us. But we have to be out doing it and making ourselves available and known, if only in a little way. By doing what we enjoy, we are authentic, presenting a true picture of ourselves.

Different types of activities attract different personalities. A Star Trek convention attracts a different crowd than would a meditation retreat. We need to enjoy our passions and do them, and then look around and be friendly.

People need encouragement. Women, pay attention. A nice guy is not going to be aggressive and make the first move without an indication he should make that move. If he’s a nice guy, he is going to wait for you to give a little smile or some hint that you are interested; otherwise he’ll respect that boundary that you have made. If you want to attract someone who is kind and gentle, you need to give some indication you are interested.

This is the beauty of taking our time by watching the person we are maybe interested in and seeing how he or she acts. We will observe what he or she is like and then decide if this is the type of person we want to spend time with and get to know better. If not, we walk away. If yes, we can lend a hand and wait to see if the person brings us anything back. Then proceed from there. It’s a gentle dance that we both have to participate in, and women, nice men need some encouragement, so give them some.

The second way we can meet people is through our friends and other people we know. We have to let them know we’re interested because our friends and family want to help us. Going on a blind date can be scary, but meeting someone through friends doesn’t have to be a blind date. They can have you over and invite the other person too, to see if you’re a good match. Letting our friends and loved ones play matchmaker is a good way of our finding a mate because they know us so well. But you have to tell your friends that you're looking to start a relationship.

The third tip is using the Internet. I know some people don't like turning to the web for romance, but I urge you to consider it because the Internet has become a very effective way of finding mates. When you do use it, put out as much information about yourself as possible and then look for people who have a lot of information about themselves, too. We’re looking for someone like us. But if we say only, “I’m pretty” or “I’m handsome,” there’s nothing for people to pick up on beyond the superficial level. If your profiles are detailed and so are those of your potential mates, you can get a better idea if you'll be a good match. Look for depth and for a likeness in interests. By making our profiles as detailed as possible we make it possible for the other to find us.

When we find someone who looks compatible from an online description, then we need to ask many questions before we meet in person. Although the Internet allows relationships to develop very fast, it’s going to be better for us if we take our time in getting to know another through an online connection. We need to take time to make sure that the other person is being truthful because people lie, and the Internet makes it easy to do so.

The key factor with Internet dating is finding out as much information about others as possible and also sharing with them our likes, dislikes, and hopes for the future. Most dating sites let you use filters to pick out what you want or don’t want in the other person, which also increases your chances of finding the right mate. But if we’re secretive, hide information, or lie, then later it could bring problems or obstacles to the relationship. For instance, if you start dating a person but don’t mention you want kids in the future, you might be afraid the person won’t continue to date you if he or she discovers you want children. We need to put out all our information so we can end an unsuitable relationship quickly.

It can be a lot of work to find someone through the Internet, but it is also encouraging because internet dating has worked for so many people. It does take time to find the right fit. If you want to find the perfect dress for a dance, you will probably have to go to several stores. It’s the same way with finding a mate. In the same way you might take a dress off the rack, look at it, try it on, and study it while it’s on you, do the same with meeting people on the Internet. If one person isn’t going to work out, move on to the next one. Asking questions will help you discover a lot of information you need to know before you meet in person. If you find you have a lot in common, proceed. The Internet can be a very effective tool if we use it well.

The fourth point is trusting in God or the Universe to help us find what we’re looking for. When we are in a good place, taking care of ourselves, then God, or the Universe, help us find what we are looking for. We don’t have to be alone in this. It’s almost as if, when we are in a good place and comfortable being alone, all of a sudden everything synchronizes to help us move in the direction of finding our soul mate. But, we have to trust. We can increase that trust by being comfortable with being single until we find our soul mates. We have to like our time alone as we are looking for people to journey with us in life. With this balance, God will help us find the mate and friendships that are best for us.

To recap, remember these two things when looking for a good mate. First, be a good mate yourself. Second, find someone who is as much like you as possible. When you do this, you will find happiness and a happy relationship.

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