To find the right person, be the right person.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with romantic fantasies about love — getting married and all the things that look somewhat like a romantic comedy with a fairy tale ending — it isn't reality for most of us (sorry I really wish it was).
Real love can and does have all of the wonderful attributes that seem like fairy tales or moments in life when you've never believed you could be so happy, but overall, learning how to have that kind of love takes work.
It takes resisting the reaction when you want to say something hurtful, or blame your partner for something that has nothing to do with them. It's about making a decision to learn how to respond — it's being selfless, acknowledging and caring about your partner's needs. It includes big and little things.
Love is an action and to be loving is a decision. To love someone, really love someone who really loves you, is about being a supportive and caring partner; knowing how to understand and compromise; knowing to accept your partner for who he or she is without trying to change them.
It's not about taking someone away from those they love. It's not about being locked into some strange desperation with each other, hoping and praying that no one cracks the shell. A couple must support each other's hopes and dreams.
If you're not there yet, you can start to work on what you will and will not do to nurture yourself and your idea of what a healthy relationship is. Here are 10 things you can do that will almost guarantee a healthier relationship:
1. To find the right person, be the right person.
Before you get back into a relationship, build your life. Finish your unfinished business. Become objective about what went wrong in your last relationship, and in the relationships before that. Do a relationship inventory and a life inventory.
2. Don't bring your past into your new relationship.
We all have been hurt, have a past and are scared. A new relationship isn't a stepping stone if you hold on to your past pain or fears and project them onto someone who doesn't deserve it. Keep your outside issues out of the relationship and learn how to deal with them without putting them on your partner.
3. Real love communicates in a healthy way.
Name-calling is out. Blaming and nitpicking is out. Accusations are out. Healthy relationships are about forthright and honest communication. When you fight, have a time out and allow your emotional reaction to settle in so you can logically talk through problems.
4. Real love requires healthy aspirations and goals, both individually and as a couple.
You have to have plans and dreams, and agree on the future. Support each other in achieving everything you've always wanted. It is important that you figure this out early on.
5. Make sure you're surrounded by healthy people — family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.
Learn to make choices and not just let friendships and professional relationships "happen." Don't spend time with family just because they're family. Choose to only have those in your life who are loving, respectful, honest, and open, and who care about you.
6. Stop being a victim.
Stop thinking you have no control over what happens to you. Most people stuck in unhealthy patterns are stuck in a mud pit of denial, justification, and rationalization. Take charge of yourself and what happens to you day in and day out.
7. Live with purpose.
Spend some quiet time alone each day, without interruption, to breathe and be in a place of personal development. Think about what you need to do to "get better" in different areas. Learn to meditate by getting quiet and relaxing. Remember to be mindful and see what's going on where you are at this very minute.
8. Know that real love is painful at times, but it's worth it.
Yes, there are misunderstandings and upsets and disappointments in every relationship, but in healthy relationships they aren't a regular happening. It's not always easy, but they tend to run smoothly because you work at it.
Love is what helps you deal with the curves that life throws at you, not what makes things more difficult. Love, real love, is support in a difficult world; it is what we all need and it's okay to know that.
9. Real love does not ask us to sacrifice that which we love.
Not our interests, not our hobbies, not our friends and family. Keep your life balanced; if you give up what you love and the people you love, you will look around one day and realize you can't leave your relationship because you have nothing else.
10. Love is an action from you and to you.
Act it and be mindful of your behavior. Whether in a relationship or not, you must affirm that love is what you do, not what you say, and you must work on this with everyone in your life that you love. If it's a "non-love" relationship (i.e. professional), respect is the action; we teach people how to treat us.
If people understood what real love entailed, they would be less inclined to go in and out of relationships in which they know they will experience anything but love. And remember, love isn't only physical attraction, it's everything else: being best friends, having someone who is cheering for you, laughter and walking through life knowing there is no one else you would rather be with.
This article was originally published at The Agency Secrets. Reprinted with permission from the author.