If you’re dating now, you’re either single, widowed, divorced, separated, or married and cheating on your spouse.
If you’ve been widowed, hopefully you had a happy relationship with them. If so, you’re in a much better position to know true love when you find it again, and my advice here may be nothing new to you, but please read on anyway.
If you’re single, you may never have been in a long term relationship at all. Even over age 60, this can happen. It this describes you, and you feel ready for the “real thing”, my advice will definitely help you.
For everyone else except the cheaters (they’re in a class by themselves), chances are you’re getting into dating coming off a bad relationship. And you’ve probably never been in a happy, healthy romantic relationship.
Until I met Sam when I was 57, I hadn’t either.
Are you like I was, coming from only bad relationship experiences?
You may have a hard time knowing what a good relationship looks and feels like.
I had been with my ex-husband for 30 years in what turned out to be a disastrous marriage. He was/is a textbook narcissist and serial cheater who abruptly, and without notice, walked out on me once he realized I was on to him.
If you’ve been tangled up with someone like him, you know how confusing and painful you’re left feeling. I imagine many of you have experienced similar devastation.
He eroded my self-esteem, my hard-wired ability to distinguish right from wrong, and my ability to trust (myself and others).
It took several years for me to even consider wanting to date again. I spent some time hating men in general. I spent plenty of time healing, and trying to figure out who I was and how I let that happen to me.
Things turned around for me in an instant.
Then I met Sam on Match.com. By that time I was in good shape emotionally. I was happy, but I very much wanted a man in my life.
Sadly, Sam died suddenly after 3 years, but he gave me the greatest gift. Through him I learned how a good relationship worked . . . what I had to do and what the man had to do.
Because of him, I knew that when I was ready to date again, I would know just what to look for in another man.
The year and a half of online dating it took me to find Cosmo was often a drudge. I knew what I wanted, I knew he was out there somewhere . . . but would I ever find him? And when I found him, would he know what he wanted and know that I was the one?
I was an experienced dater, and knew what I was doing, but . . .
You could say that having come from both a bad and a good relationship, I was experienced and well positioned to know who my ideal partner was.
This is true, but I wouldn’t have been fully primed if I hadn’t done the dating prep work I devised.
I think too many people go into dating, and first dates in particular, with a check list of acceptable and unacceptable superficial things that don’t contribute to a long-lasting, happy relationship.
Conversely, some people fall in love too easily. Someone paying a little attention to them is enough to make them rush into sex too early, or marriage too early.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve found true love, when it’s really something else.
If you think you’ve found true love because you’re wildly attracted to them or the sex is fantastic, stop and review what’s really going on. Those are the big, sometimes overpowering things that stir up our emotions and hormones, and can lead to seriously poor decision making.
They’re great things to have, but if they’re the main things driving the relationship, it probably won’t last. Shared sentiments, commonalities and compatibility are needed to sustain a relationship.
And besides the “big” things, also look to the little things about them . . . nuances that come from deep love that you may be tempted to overlook in favor of the big things. [More about this below.]
Be pragmatic. Go back to the “targeting” work you should have done on your core values, life style, personal attributes/character qualities, etc. Are you and your potential partner in sync on all, or most, of your important criteria?
What long-term true-love couples have experienced can happen to you, too.
Randi Gunther Ph.D., a couple’s therapist for 40 years, said in a Psychology Today article:
“Some people experience clearly magical connections very early on in a relationship that predict long-term commitment and devotion.”
She asked long-lasting true-love couples what they remember about their first meeting. They all had these 9 similar experiences that told them they’d found the right one:
Something felt different when they first met each other. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what that was, but looking back they all felt they instantly fell in love.
Beyond physical attraction, they were intrigued by the other’s moves, or the sound of their voice, or some other physical characteristic. They wanted to keep the connection and momentum going.
They noticed that time and concerns about correct timing (when to make a move, when to move on to the next step, etc.) never came into play. Instead, time stood still.
Dr. Gunther said, “The sense of being alive is felt simultaneously and in every cell in the body. The heart feels as if it is opening, the mind is engaged, the senses are awakened, and a feeling of transcendence often emerges.”
That apprehensive feeling or worry that they may be hurt or disappointed felt different. Dr. Gunther said it’s “like being on the edge of a cliff and wondering if they could fly. They just could not give up the chance to hold on to what they were experiencing, no matter what happened.”
More than a mutual attraction, she said they felt “almost immediately grounded, quiet, and serious, totally convicted that they would end up together.”
They didn’t want to hold back being truly themselves, as they had with other potential partners. She said they “almost immediately felt the desire to confess and share everything about themselves, whether negative or positive. They felt immediately courageous, wanting to know and be known, no matter what the outcome.”
More than compatibility, she said “they are more than the sum of their individual parts. They become, in each other’s presence, more than either of them could have ever become alone or with anyone else.”
Dating can make you feel transient, like you don’t know where you’re going, like you’re traveling in a foreign world. With a string of dates that don’t hit the mark, there are so many disappointments and the feeling you’ll never find “the one”.
But a man in one of her true-love couples said “The more time I spent with her, the more I started to feel this incredible feeling of peace. My troubles seemed suddenly lighter and my dreams seemed more and more possible.”
The list above hits home with both Cosmo and me. We experienced most of these things on our first date.
Here’s an important lesson I learned about relationships that will help you.
Through my relationships with Sam, and now Cosmo, I learned something very important: Things are easy between you when you’ve found your ideal partner.
- You feel light and happy when you’re together.
- Communicating is not a chore.
- You enjoy simply sitting quietly with each other.
- You feel joyful just being together, no matter what you’re doing.
These may seem like little, inconsequential things, but they matter so much. Think how much better your life would be, if you had someone beside you who you really loved being with all the time, or at least the majority of the time.
The outside world can be difficult, and pose many challenges. You need someone to be united and strong with to shield each other against the tough stuff. Your relationship should be a safe, warm place . . . and if it’s true love, you’ll feel these things right away.
You may have given up on finding true love. You may be willing to settle for someone you’re not that crazy about. Or you may be willing to settle for just companionship. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, as long as you both feel the same way, and neither of you comes to regret settling. But how can you guarantee that?
But I hope you don’t give up on finding true love, especially if you’ve never experienced it.