to love and be loved, what I learned from being single and finding love again
With all the red popping up everywhere, Valentine’s Day is on my mind. Well, honestly it is more than that. The upcoming day has me thinking about real love and how we get there. Specifically, how to love and be loved.
When I was young, it seemed like I always had a date or guy in my life around Valentines. Vivacious and confident, I don’t remember spending any Valentine’s alone. But, when I got older and divorced, Valentine’s was like a stumbling block. I could feel it coming, see the red hearts and decorations in stores and online and feel stress. Wanting to love and be loved, I had rushed into a new relationship that was not right for me. Honestly, I did this more than once.
What I learned from my divorce, the new relationships that weren’t right, and the ensuing loneliness is eye opening even now. Here are ten vital lessons.
1. The best lesson was the startling reminder to choose love with care.
Seems obvious, but I had a hard time accepting that you can love someone without being in a relationship with them, and many times it is so much healthier that way. You can love them without living with them, supporting them, or worse involving your children.
2. I was reminded also that to love and be loved is a work continually in progress.
Great relationships take work and will continue to take work.
Remember that when you meet someone and date or spend time together. You will have to work together.
3. Most importantly, I learned that eventually, you will have to work on your relationship together, OR part ways, and/or simply accept the dysfunction, and work on yourself.
To me, the only satisfying part of the above is working together on a relationship, so I learned to accept nothing less than a committed partner.
(You get what you allow.)
My husband and I were pretty good at working on our relationship for the first part of our 26 year marriage, then we lived in dysfunction for a while. Due to more trauma than I care to recall outside of our control, it is a miracle we survived. Eventually, I left to work on myself. (A couple of years later, he started working on himself too.) We both needed healing and recovery.
So, minimally, we have to choose love that is two sided and involves two parties who are willing to work at it.
As a mindset, don’t stumble in or accept less than great. Great loves involve more than loving someone. Great loves are an agreement to love each other, or the relationship will fail.
To get this mindset of choosing love with care, and or to have better relationships, there are some things you need to accomplish.
First, choosing love with care covers a lot of ground, but starts with being patient while working on yourself and your own life.
Be still for a moment. Take stock, calm down, stop running.
If you are single, but in a relationship that is one sided and unfulfilling, then you will be miserable. Sticking it out won’t change it. If you are married and miserable, then keep reading.
I know singles feel lonely sometimes and just want to date someone or be married to Mr. or Mrs. Right, but the choices you make today affect you long after you ease the lonely feeling by spending time with someone.
Here it comes. The secret to a great relationship. Married or single:
4. Become the person you want to be deep down. To love and be loved starts with caring about yourself and being a person you are proud of.
This is very different from self absorbed or self centered. It is confidence and balance along with a dose of humility.
Clean up your own life and get your affairs in order. Pay your bills and do a better job at your job. Take care of your appearance and make yourself take care of your health.
The real inner you should be reflected on the outside, even in your life and work. Make yourself a whole person. Be the genuine best you.
Stop running from yourself and your situation. Instead, be still and listen. God has something to say. In becoming the person you want to be deep down, you will need God’s help.
5. Additionally, work on being happy when alone. To love and be loved, you need to enjoy your own company and be able to be without a partner.
Even if you are married, if you are unable to enjoy your own company or go a few months (or years) without a partner without getting depressed, you need to start there. In marriage or a relationship, you will suffocate the other person in your life, if you can’t be alone.
Let go of the search or the cling, and work on loving life and loving yourself. It is not someone else’s job to make you happy. It is yours.
When I embraced working on life and myself, and let go of searching for someone or being with someone, I ended up in a great relationship. Now, when I do this as a married person, it is a breath of fresh air for my husband.
You are attractive when you are focused on good healthy things instead of a particular person or finding a person.
Fill your life with satisfying pursuits, better input in the form of entertainment. Give yourself a life makeover. Work on your attitude and your heath. Clean out some closets or write a journal. Try rock climbing or walking. Get outdoors. Read to your kids or grandkids. Take up a hobby you have always wanted to try.
Take the magnifying glass off the other person or persons, and work on your life.
You will also improve your life and attraction by improving the relationships you already have.
Be a better parent/grandparent/sister/brother/friend/boss/employee. Participate instead of grumbling. Stop stirring up trouble and blaming the other people in your life. I have brothers who do this so well that they endear everyone. They show up for me and my family.
Focus on your family. Change your focus from a partner to your entire family and create new memories with the people who love you.
In addition, while being patient, work on what you were born to do. To love and be loved well requires you to feel great about yourself.
You have untapped potential, something special that makes you you. You were created for a purpose. Do you know what it is? Become the best at what you do. Do it with energy and enthusiasm and love will find you.
Take care of your health, your body, and your mind.
If you are in a relationship and you find a way to be truly happy yourself, your relationship will improve or you will move on a healthier person.
If you are in an abusive relationship, there is no solution other than remove yourself and your children immediately. We do not stick around when there is physical or true emotional trauma. Protect your kids and save yourself. Get some help now.
6. While you are working on yourself and your best life, if you meet someone, trust your gut. An uneasy feeling or a red flag is just that.
They are who they are. When they need fixing, don’t do it.
You are vulnerable and a little needy between relationships. Shut the door temporarily on purpose.
If you are married to someone who is a mess see #3. You have a choice to make.
Don’t spend the next decade trying to make that someone whole or better. People don’t like being worked on and you will be unhappy doing it.
Someone suffering with addiction or is abusive will continually struggle without counseling and divine intervention. You cannot fix them yourself.
In another scenario, do not become someone’s mother or father relationship and expect them to desire you. If you support someone financially who does not do their part, it will produce negative feelings starting with loss of desire and leading to breaking apart. Loss of resepct for someone takes a toll. Being someone’s surrogate parent does too.
By the same token, don’t become dependent on them and expect them to desire you.
Don’t expect someone to change their personality because you want someone different.
If you date or marry someone who is introverted, they are not going to suddenly wax poetic and start shouting sonnets or making grand gestures.
If they are known for infidelity, then you will be their next victim. They won’t mean to hurt you, but they will.
When you choose someone selfish, why are you surprised when they act selfishly? People will show you and tell you who they are, believe them.
Ultimately, if you are picking someone apart when you meet them, don’t date them either.
Why would you date, or worse marry, someone you want to change?
Definitely don’t fall into a sexual relationship to keep from feeling alone. You will get hurt.
7. To love and be loved in a relationship is a choice.
Anyone you have to drag, because they don’t know if they can be in a relationship, or can’t decide is not for you. Anyone who is already in another relationship is not for you.
They are not for you. NOT FOR YOU. We choose. They have chosen.
8. When choosing someone or considering a relationship, the person you choose sober and thoughtfully will last longer than the heart palpitating dangerous attraction.
Relax. Find a way to be alone with yourself and find some balance in your life. If you can’t stand yourself, fix you.
If you live for the high of new, you will never feel satisfied. If you choose someone who lives for the high of new, it will cause great pain.
I meet many people with this issue. They drift from relationship to relationship because they need the high of a new relationship. Then, they leave a wake of broken people behind them.
Don’t be the next one.
Whether you are in a relationship or looking for one, “Choose love with care” is the mindset to finding a lasting relationship.
9. Becoming the best version of yourself emotionally is the key to being part of a good relationship.
When you are spinning just trying to feel better, you need to stop. Take stock, step back. Go to counseling.
Because, the next time you are clear, if you choose well in the first place, you will be happier and it will last. When you also take care of and love yourself, you will be mesmerizing to potential or current partners.
It all starts with you and what you do when you encounter love or are already in a loving relationship.