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Wanted: True Love and Other Imposters

We all want it, don’t we? That other half. That plus one. That counterpart through all of life’s storms. We want to be seen, known, valued. We want to be partners with someone so that burdens are lessened and joys are heightened. Through all of the storybooks and rom-coms, big dreams and small cries of heart, true love beckons.

But, how to truly answer such a call? For those of us who wonder when that time will arrive, when “the one” will take the stage and arrest our loneliness, we’d do well to ensure that we’re not making it harder than necessary for companionship to hear its cue. Of course, no two relationships are the same and, unfortunately, there is no magic formula that can reduce people into pawns in a game, but we do have a role to play if ending up in a successful relationship is something that we yearn for.

So, if you’ve found yourself wondering time and again where your Prince Charming is, it could be that it’s time take a moment and check your heart against the below. Far from exhaustive, consider this a loose guide to keeping your eyes open and your spirit primed for connecting with another. Discouragement is easier to cure when truth takes its place.

Is Your Goal Perfection?

Spoiler alert: Prince Charming doesn’t exist. And if you think he does, consider what you’ve used to cement this vision in your mind in the first place. Was it a plot line you watched unfold on the silver screen? Was he part of the bedtime story that kept you up at night? Does it stem from a pain that you’d rather be distracted from than personally work through?

While it’s good for us to have certain foundational deal-breakers in a relationship, we need to be careful of idealized standards that paint others as two-dimensional characters instead of multi-dimensional human beings. We’re all works in progress and we each have different life experiences that allow certain traits to bloom ahead of others. While it’d be nice to have a perfectly-suited-for-us soul mate show up on our doorstep, we might actually need to walk with someone for a while before they learn how to affirm our bright spots and we gain the ability to see theirs. Give a little grace at first to see what (and who) develops with time.

Are You Thinking About Yourself Too Much?

Don’t be offended — we’re all a little selfish. You can blame it on a biological predisposition to seek the path of least resistance with the greatest personal gain. Yet, in any lasting, mutually sustaining relationship we must to be willing to acknowledge that we, too, have a few flawed tendencies that someone else will wish could change.

This isn’t about becoming someone that which we’re not, but about maturing into the best possible version of ourselves. We almost always need someone else to do this, to see beyond the limits imposed by our saving-face. This also takes time, as we need to learn vulnerability and feel safe in order to eventually reveal where we’re weak. We’ve spent the majority of our lives building kingdoms of protection, locking away our insecurities as we rule on high from the center. Yet, in a relationship, we slowly let our guard down, decentralizing command so that we can build a new kingdom, one that doesn’t just benefit ourselves.

Don’t immediately call it quits because your partner raises a concern. Consider the “problem” in question, weigh the intention behind it, and see if this sacrifice might actually serve to strengthen a part of yourself that you never knew existed.

Are You Thinking About Yourself Enough?

This is a tricky one, and an area not to be taken lightly, but sometimes we can sabotage our potential for a relationship because we aren’t thinking about ourselves enough. Hear this out. As we live in an increasingly connected society, it can become harder to dissociate ourselves from the pressures of culture, community, friends, and family that may try to subconsciously thwart our individual paths.

We need to be honest — with ourselves and with those who care about us — what are we bringing to the table? A relationship isn’t an isolated entity; it isn’t an end goal, something that defines us, or a cornerstone of our worth. Some of us may like being independent more than others. To heighten the value of committed, intentional relationships, we should encourage people to take them seriously, not just assume that if someone is single they must be lonely, or because they’ve just turned 30 that they are ready to settle down. We should enter a relationship because we’re excited about the person we’re connecting with, not merely excited about what that person represents.

Let’s not be quick to point out a deficit where there may not actually be one.

Are You Afraid?

Fear is normal, and almost always on the edge of change. To love someone is a risk. We’re stepping into something new and uncharted, and this is good! We’ll never be fully calculated with any of the decisions we make in life, and if we safeguard ourselves against regret, we’ll never move, we’ll never grow.

Maybe we’ll get hurt. Maybe we’ll loose something we never thought we could let go of. But maybe we’ll discover something, too. We’ll discover how a life lived in the reality of love — through its highs and lows — is the best kind of mess and the most purposeful kind of struggle.

By Nicole Ziza Bauer

Feature image by Stephanie Padilla