When you’re looking for someone to start a relationship with, do you operate out of a need for love or the desire to give love? Are you looking for someone who can fill an empty feeling you have, or do you have a love and passion you want to share with someone else? Is your quest for a friend, a partner, an evening, or a permanent relationship based on your own needs, or are you interested in both giving and receiving love? These aren’t always easy questions to ask yourself, but they are important.
If you’re searching for someone to take care of you, that’s not the best (or healthiest) way to approach a new relationship. On the other hand, if you’re looking to take care of another person because it’s important that you feel needed, that’s not the healthiest thing either. (And you should prepare to have your energy depleted.)
A healthy relationship that lasts is like a dance where both partners are in a fluid balance between giving and receiving love. Love requires a lot of back and forth; sometimes one partner can give more than the other, and that’s only natural. But if the balance is always off, watch out.
If you’re looking for love from another person, now is a good time to ask yourself how you’re doing with loving yourself. If you’re not having any luck in love, turn the quest around and take a look at yourself.
Here are four tips to find love within yourself:
1. Examine yourself.
Do you like who you are, or do you think you’d be better if only you were different or with someone? Do you know yourself well? Are you in touch with the qualities you have to give? Knowing yourself well, and understanding your strengths and weaknesses, will help you approach your relationships successfully. For example, do you have a hard time talking about your emotions and feelings? If you know this about yourself, you can work on communicating more with your partners, or give your partner a heads up that this is something that’s difficult for you.
2. Take a clear and honest look at self-sabotage.
It’s hard to admit that you might be sabotaging yourself, but it’s always worth being honest. Are you seeking out people you know are wrong for you? Or do you go all-in on relationships too quickly? Think about the actions you take in your relationships and whether or not they’re helping or hurting you. See each obstacle as a learning tool, not an excuse to criticize yourself. It takes courage to look at yourself honestly and admit you have areas where you need to grow. Make a decision to change your behavior and shift the way you look at things, so that you can get out of your own way.
3. Practice new behaviors.
Once you have some insight and understanding into your own strengths and weaknesses, take a step out of your comfort zone and try on a new behavior that is based on self-confidence. Maybe that means making the first move an starting a conversation with someone, maybe it’s being honest with someone about how you feel (or don’t feel) about them. Keep a journal about how things work for you, and then either repeat the behavior until it feels natural or try something else. Remember that a person who is content within, comfortable in their own skin, and at ease in the world is more likely to attract others than someone who is afraid of other’s disapproval.
4. Remember, you can’t give what you don’t have.
You can’t expect others to do for you what you should do for yourself. As your self-awareness about what you think, feel, and want grows, you’re awareness of others will grow as well. You’ll find it easier to accurately assess another person to determine how they think and feel.
This kind of self-understanding leads to understanding others. If you seek love and happiness on your own, you’ll attract love and happiness from others as well.
Jeanie Miley is a best-selling author of thirteen books on spiritual growth and relationships, including the recent release Practicing Resurrection: Radical Hope in Difficult Times. Jeanie is a speaker and retreat leader and has written a weekly newspaper column, “Growing Edges” for thirty-eight years. www.jeaniemiley.com