When it comes to love and desire, we often think that there’s neither rhyme nor reason that governs attraction. As Emily Dickinson so aptly wrote, “The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care.” And yet, by the time actor/director Woody Allen so famously co-opted the quote to explain the dubious beginnings of his longtime love affair with then step-daughter Soon-Yi Previn (begun while he was still romantically entangled with her mom, Mia Farrow), it was pretty clear that sometimes the heart wants something that might not actually be the best thing for it–or you.
But even more potentially damaging to chances at longtime romantic happiness is ignoring what’s going on in our heads. Many people find themselves locked into a negative cycle in which they repeatedly pursue partners who turn out to be either just plain ill-suited, or worse, downright destructive–but are seemingly clueless as to why.
If you’re one of those “unlucky in love” types, wondering if there isn’t something you can do to change the game so that the odds are in your favor, there are actually several modifications you can make in your quest for amour–but the biggest changes you will likely have to make are going to start with you. In order to find lasting love, you must examine your personal history to shed light on events that set certain patterns in motion, and then you must re-learn the rules of attraction so that you are better able to focus on more suitable candidates for healthy romance. Here are a few steps to get you started.
Know The Catalyst
Many people who seem to haplessly fall into one doomed relationship after another do so because they’ve never fully resolved the childhood traumas that shaped their psyches, especially in cases of emotional abuse or neglect. As a child, you have no control over your environment, but as an adult, not only do you have the ability to understand how you came to be the person you’ve become, but you have the power to break destructive cycles by choosing not to engage in relationships that feed negative behavior.
Easier said than done? Yes, but professional help is there if you need it, and not everyone requires years of therapy to uncover what triggers self-destructive patterns. Knowledge is power. While you can never fix what was broken in the past, once you have the explanation, you can recognize the pull towards failed romances and move forward to make healthier choices.
Look Beyond Chemistry
Ah, chemistry . . . the most infamous weapon in Cupid’s arsenal, and yet, when we’re in school, chemistry is only one of the required courses. The evidence of pheromone-based attraction notwithstanding, a well-rounded education in love demands the study of more than one subject.
No one’s telling you that you have to date someone to whom you are not physically attracted, but if that’s all there is, unless you’re looking for short-term gratification of an “urge to merge” (nothing wrong with that–so long as you understand that’s all it’s likely to be) chances are, lust is not going to be enough for the long haul.
Refocus Your Expectations
Refining expectations is not, I repeat, not synonymous with lowering expectations, so if you’re in the habit of repeatedly trying to pair up with unrealistic or unavailable partners, there’s a good chance it’s time to start setting your sights on more appropriate targets.
Lots of people are looking for love. That’s the pool you should dive into. And here’s a hint: As tempting as it may be to “drown in love” with that mythical mermaid, or plummet to giddy depths in tandem with the daring swain beckoning you to come hither from the high diving board, sticking with someone who swims at the same pace as you do will likely be infinitely more fulfilling once you reach the deep end.
The Real Benefits of Friends With Benefits
In the most enduring romances, passion evolves. Over time, rather than burning white-hot, it smolders beneath the surface like a bed of warm coals, and flares when properly fueled and fanned.
Understanding how to build a romance based on the joy of one another’s company that’s bolstered by a shared sense of humor, like interests and mutual understanding is akin to knowing how to properly bank a fire so that it doesn’t burn out. Not every friendship will or should blossom into romance, but it’s an excellent way to start. So, if you’ve been dating yet one more lover and all-too-soon find yourself saying, “I love him/her, but I don’t like him/her” this is one lesson you should really take to heart because eventually, when love fizzles out, that dislike is going to color everything that’s left, and it’s not going to paint a pretty picture.
When it comes to love, if you keep coming up with all the wrong answers, why not let a KEEN romantic advisor teach you savvy ways to help improve your score?