The quest for romantic love is as old as the human race. In fact, some experts believe it is even older, as certain animals also exhibit strong bonding behaviors and even monogamy. Yet the irony of love is that the harder you look for it, the less likely you are to actually find it. While some people seem destined to be alone, the reality is that love is almost always out there, just waiting to be discovered. Most of the time, finding love is a matter of time, patience, and ending the active hunt.
1. Become OK on your own
Believe it or not, while romantic love is a very powerful drive, it is not actually necessary for survival. Everyone needs a support system, but this can come from friends and family as well as a romantic partner. Learn to manage the day-to-day tasks of running your home, balancing your budget, caring for your car, raising your children, and enlist help as needed. Knowing that you can manage life on your own is very empowering and prevents you from entering into bad relationships based on neediness or desperation.
2. Get ready for love
Clear the baggage out of your life. Forgive your exes. Let go of past hurts. Heal your emotional wounds, address any anxieties or self-doubts that are holding you back, and develop balance. Learn to love, respect, and even cherish yourself. Get to know the person you truly are. Learn your likes and dislikes. Figure out your values, goals, hopes, and dreams. Decide what is truly important to you. Find your voice and your boundaries.
Only when you have a good sense of who you are and how to emotionally nurture yourself are you ready to enter a lasting romantic relationship. No matter how good your love might be, it will be tested in innumerable ways. You need to be confident in yourself and your own needs and desires in order to choose a compatible partner and be at your best throughout life’s storms.
3. Learn to say yes
So many times, people automatically say no to new experiences. It is easy to become comfortable and complacent in your daily life, even if you are not truly happy with your circumstances. Yet how will you know when the right person is ready to meet you if you never venture outside your comfort zone?
We are confronted with a vast array of choices and options every single day…so try saying yes to those that are new and unusual. Maybe you will meet the partner of your dreams at that new Chinese restaurant your best friend wants to try. Perhaps he lives in the small town where you’ve been meaning to visit your grandmother. Or she could be the interesting-looking new girl at work who you thought about inviting for drinks. The more you say yes to experiences, the more opportunities you give love to find you.
4. Enjoy the journey
There is a natural human tendency to think solely of the end game and our desired results. If you can’t picture yourself growing old with the guy you just had dinner with, then you might feel like the evening was wasted. Yet every date teaches you something about yourself or what you want in a partner. And not everything is at it seems. The person you appeared incompatible with at first could turn out to be your true love once you get to know each other a little better. Either way, the journey is a valuable experience that is to be treasured, not a necessary evil that you have to endure on your way to finding love.
5. Know when to walk away
Some people are so eager to find love that they overly romanticize each and every partner. We all have a friend who is planning her wedding after the first date or picking out baby names on his three month anniversary. Optimism is healthy, but when it comes from a place of desperation or fear, it can lead people to stay in relationships long after they have run their course. If you find yourself constantly excusing your partner’s bad behavior, believing in change long after the person has expressed a lack of interest in changing, or wishing that someone else would come along and rescue you, it might be time to walk away. Remember, the time you spend hanging onto a doomed relationship is time you could be spending on the search for your true love.
There are few guarantees in life, and finding true love is not one of them. Yet the vast majority of people who are interested in marriage and family do manage to find a healthy and satisfying relationship. Following the five steps above will increase your chances of finding love while ensuring that you are emotionally healthy and balanced no matter what the future holds.
Looking for verifiable information on the science of attraction and relationships? We’re a neuroscientist and a biological anthropologist eager to help you put the Anatomy of Love to work in your own life.NEXT