How to find love – the therapist’s guide
How to find love naturally presents its own set of challenges, especially in an era of dating apps and swiping right. Clinical psychotherapist Emmy Brunner, founder of the UK’s Recover Clinic has advice
This is a question I’m so frequently asked as a mental health therapist. It could be that you’re asking because you’re fresh off a break-up or you simply feel you can’t find the ‘right person’. I always say, let’s ask another question first – why do you want to find love?
While love is a natural human desire, and a loving relationship is something most of us want in life, it’s important to also acknowledge the reasons you may be wanting love so badly. It’s common to be drawn into the fantasy of what a relationship may be, and while a truly loving relationship is wonderful, imagining it as some all consuming entity that can ‘fix’ anything that you feel is wrong in your life, may well be part of the problem.
If you are finding it difficult to find and sustain a loving relationship with someone, it’s important to consider what the obstacles may be between what we want and having it.
This is my expert advice on seven ways to find love…
1. Open up
Those who know me or have worked with me know that I have come to believe through my practice that 99 percent of mental health challenges come from unresolved trauma in our lives and this can absolutely lead to a reduced ability to trust and be vulnerable. Yet, meaningful relationships require trust and vulnerability. Acknowledging you are afraid is the first step in getting past it. Being seen for who you are is a wonderful part of real love. None of us can have real intimacy, without vulnerability.
2. Keep looking forward
It’s easy to focus on past relationships and manifest the experience of these into fear for what a future relationship holds. I have now come to realize that the most painful relationships I’ve been in have been the best teachers for me. They have made me insightful and considered the role I was playing in each. Most of the time when you reflect, it becomes clear that you weren’t being true to yourself and what you really wanted. Use these learnings to make changes to move forward.
3. Trust in the universe
I know that when you really want a loving relationship, having someone say to you ‘don’t worry, it’ll happen’, can be frustrating. But I’m going to say a version of this; things that were meant for us don’t pass us by. The right experiences find us at the right time and leave us at the right time. When we focus our attention on feeling grateful and trusting that the universe will deliver what we need, when we need it, magical things start to happen.
4. Do what you love instead of what you think you should be doing.
Some of us can feel that finding a relationship is a mission we should treat like a job search, and feel guilt or pressure associated with ensuring we’re ‘out there’, positioning ourselves in places where we may find love. But how many times have you forced yourself out to that pub night when you really just wanted to watch a movie at home, curled up on the sofa? Compelling yourself into situations where you aren’t feeling content won’t lead to finding that special someone. Doing what you want, and what makes you happiest will instead make you the best version of yourself when you are out in the world, and that is when love finds you.
5. Believe you deserve love
Many of us internalize a feeling that we simply aren’t deserving of love, and this blocks us from finding it. Reflect on this and question why you may be feeling you aren’t good enough. This again, could be related to a trauma in your past that you haven’t accepted and therefore made progress in moving on from. These thoughts are damaging to you and your future. Consider the fact that you are good enough and these negative thoughts just aren’t true. Tell yourself this often. The more you hear it, the more you’ll believe it.
6. Ensure your needs are being met by you.
Do you want love because you’re feeling desperately lonely? I have never felt lonelier than when I haven’t been meeting my own needs and taking care of myself. When we live a life that’s very much about living up to society’s standards and norms or trying to meet everybody else’s needs, we can start to feel bereaved and alone in life. Instead, take stock of what it is that we need or think about how you can keep yourself happy. This will then draw you to the right relationship that isn’t simply filling a loneliness void.
7. Ensure your needs are being met in a relationship
When you do meet someone new, do consider what needs you have in a relationship. Make sure your needs are being met. Does this person genuinely bring you joy based on a respect and understanding of what makes you happy? It’s easy for the possibility of love to eclipse what is really going on in a relationship. Do trust your instincts and ensure all that you deserve is being acknowledged.
Love is a wonderful thing and so is the journey to finding it. So, reflect, open up to the experience, and acknowledge what has potentially held you back before. Everyone has feelings of fear and vulnerability when entering a relationship. But acknowledgment is truly a healing power and allows us to recognize, accept and then step over those barriers to finding what we truly want. Remember that how we treat ourselves is a communication to everyone else about what we expect and feel we deserve.
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