Be honest about your history. Were you close with your siblings? Did you sustain long friendships or move around from group to group? What about your dating history? Be bold enough to recognize whether or not you’ve been able to cultivate healthy connections.
As you peruse your history, be sure to hold yourself accountable when necessary. Your actions and choices are under your control. Do you recognize any patterns? If so, what role did you play in them? It’s tempting to paint yourself as the victim every single time but that’s simply not possible. Own up to mistakes and find the hidden lessons in them.
Identify and Honor Your Needs
Physical attraction is important but we all have far more needs than that. So, before flipping head over heels, make sure you have a clear picture of your personal expectations. Get in touch with what you want from a relationship and how you want to feel when it happens. Past break-ups can teach you what you don’t want. They can always point you in the direction that feels right to you. Identify that feeling and move in that direction.
Also, get in the habit of expressing your needs. When you meet someone and feel a connection, make communication a top priority.
Take Your Time
What’s the rush? You are free to date without needing to feel “love at first sight.” A major chunk of failed relationships is due to impatience. Yes, it’s super exciting to feel chemistry right off the bat. But that does not automatically mean you’ve found “happily ever after.” Take your time.
Stop Comparing and Competing
You look around at other couples — friends, celebrities, even your own parents — and try to stack up to them. Sure, you can learn from healthy relationships but in the end, every couple is distinct. Remember, you can learn much more from your own past than from people who are not living your life.
Be Willing to Change
This is not a call for you to become someone else to satisfy a potential partner. It is a reminder that change is inevitable and essential. The partners who are unwilling to change become the couple that is doomed to fail. Clarify your history. Learn from the past. Commit to ongoing evolution. Healthy relationships don’t happen by accident and they don’t endure without a willingness to do the work every single day.
You Don’t Have to Do This Alone
You may be single right now but on the lookout for something long-term. Perhaps you’ve met someone but you don’t know if you’re falling back into past patterns. Whatever your situation, you can benefit from speaking to a therapist. Your weekly sessions are like a safe space and a workshop where you share, discover, learn, and grow. If past relationships have left you feeling hopeless about love, we should connect for a free and confidential consultation soon.
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Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.