Being alone can get lonely. And if you choose to be single for too long, people may decide there's "something wrong" with you. What's worse is that you may soon believe that something actually is wrong with you.
This was my story until I recognized that loneliness could be my greatest teacher.
Seven months ago, however, I was in a very different place.
My last serious relationship had been a repeat of every other romantic relationship I've been in: filled with drama, toxic energy and defensive behaviors. It wasn't until my last boyfriend that I took responsibility for my patterns and quit bad romance cold turkey. I recognized that I could never find true love until I fully loved myself.
The past six months have been a magical roller coaster, ranging from complete freedom to desperate loneliness. Throughout this time I have made it my full-time job to understand who I really am, what I need, and what I value.
In the past, I always put others first. I'd sacrifice myself in an effort to make the world happy.
This didn't work.
If I'm committed to creating a healthy, loving and expansive romantic relationship, I must first show up and treat myself with the same kindness I desire.
In my quest to find answers I began to study other couples, people who are together and madly in love. What is their secret? What do they have that I don’t?
After interviewing, researching and studying love, as well as lack of love, I have recognized the 4 golden truths to a lasting relationship.
Here are 4 things healthy couples do:
1. They are 100% committed to being together
People who are happy and in a long-lasting relationship are committed to one another. Without a shadow of a doubt they have said yes to their life partner. Which means that, through thick and thin, they lean into one another versus second-guessing or looking outside of their relationship.
2. They don't spend time in dead-end relationships.
The difference between soul mate love and relationships that feel strained is that people on a mission to find their soul mate don't waste time in anything that doesn't feel right. Dead-end relationships can come in all shape and sizes: from waiting for your significant other to get over alcohol or drugs, to dating a married person, to having a secret relationship with a boss or teacher, or even being in a relationship with a person who disrespects you. Trust your own internal guidance system. If it isn't working or feels forced, it's not supposed to work. It is OK to let go!
3. They love themselves first and put me before we.
I once dated a man who was more interested in looking at himself and complimenting himself than being with me. Let’s put ego aside for a moment because I am not talking about that kind of conceited self-love, the kind that often stems from deep-rooted insecurities.
I am talking about an authentic expression of self. Being true to you, your mind, body and soul. Couples that stay together always play together, but come from a place of self-love and respect first and foremost. They do what they love and have healthy goals and hobbies. They don't make one another feel guilty for pursuing self-interests. Instead they lift each other up and support one another fully.
4. They show and accept their shadow sides.
Every person has habits, insecurities and shadow sides. In relationships, we sometimes hide our true self in an effort to please the other person. This results in breakups, drama and divorce. The reality is the healthiest couples show their true self, including their dark fears, insecurities and allow themselves and each other to be vulnerable. And instead of running, they embrace one another and allow each person to be uniquely them, no judgment, only love.
Lessons in love are a lifetime journey, but I know this for sure, when looking for true love, don't ever put commitment before compatibility. Recognizing that this was my pattern, I realize my desire to be in a relationship outweighed the partners I picked.
Learn from my mistakes and don't settle simply because you want a relationship, and never stay with the wrong person for the wrong reasons.