Today, we know it as both a natural addiction and a physiological drive like hunger or thirst. With so much primal brain power at work, it is no wonder that finding true love can seem like an overarching goal. Yet love is elusive, and the harder we try to find it, the more it seems to slip through our grasp.
Although there are no surefire methods for discovering your true love, science shows us that certain elements need to be in place before it can happen. You need to have a loving and open relationship with yourself, and an innate understanding of what you need and desire from your ideal mate.
Focus on solving these mysteries, and you will open the door for true love to find you.
Here are the 5 key elements you MUST have in place in order to find true romantic love.
1. Embrace yourself.
Many people have a running, nit-picking internal commentary on themselves. You might be constantly plagued with critical thoughts about your weight, your face, your habits, your personality, or some other aspect of yourself. These negative thoughts can torpedo your search for true love by convincing you that you are not worthy of it.
The first step in the journey towards true love is to learn to love yourself exactly the way you are. Certainly, we all have things that we would like to improve about ourselves, but try looking at yourself as you would a friend. Recognize yourself as a wonderful, worthwhile, lovable person, and be kind to yourself as you work to reach your own ideals.
Positive affirmations are a great way to do this. Write down a few positive statements about yourself, such as, “I am a kind, loving, gentle person,” or “I am beautiful inside and out.” Every morning, repeat those statements while looking at yourself in the mirror. Over time, you will come to believe them.
If you are young, say 18-22, and have not fallen in love or found a true love, give it a little time. It happens when you least expect it. But if you are older and have been through several relationships, and you are dating a lot without finding love, you may want to face past relationship difficulties. No matter what, make sure to pay close attention to numbers 4 and
2. Face past relationship difficulties.
We would all rather put difficult past relationships behind us, but examining them objectively can reveal patterns that need to be broken.
Take an honest assessment of what caused your worst relationships to break down. Were there communication issues? Mistrust? Dependency? Did you and your partner bring out the worst in each other instead of the best? Look for issues that seemed to repeat themselves across multiple relationships, and then take a critical look at their likely causes. Do you have relationship-based anxieties, a tendency to become jealous, or trouble communicating your needs?
Facing your negative relationship tendencies is the first step toward ensuring that they do not repeat themselves. As you search for true love, keep your eyes open for signs of old patterns returning and be prepared to do the hard work necessary to nip them in the bud.
Remember, some issues can be solved through mutual effort, while others reflect a tendency to choose psychologically unhealthy partners. If a potential mate is unwilling to work on issues with you, he or she is probably not the best choice.
3. Forgive your exes.
While this can seem impossible, going through with it releases your baggage and helps you feel emotionally ready to move forward.
Depending on the circumstances, you might want to talk directly with certain exes, write letters to others, and forgive still others only in your own mind. Whether your conversation is real or imaginary, take responsibility for your own part in what happened without bearing the emotional weight of the entire breakup. Hold your ex accountable for what he or she did, but forgive the behaviors.
Note that forgiving does not necessarily mean opening yourself up to further pain. You can forgive someone without reopening a friendship, and sometimes that is the kindest way to handle things.
4. Identify your deal breakers.
We all have a mental image of our perfect mate, but holding out for someone who precisely matches that ideal could mean missing out on someone who is perfect for you.
Take a few minutes to write a detailed description of exactly who your perfect true love would be — everything from height and hair color to likes and dislikes, and even personality quirks. Then put the list away for a few days before revisiting it.
The next stage is a two-part process.
First, revisit every single item on your “ideal partner” list and ask yourself whether you would rather be alone than with someone who does not meet that particular requirement. If not, then cross off that item. If so, leave it on the list. After you finish, go through the list again. This time, for each item, ask yourself whether you would walk away from a potential partner who had all of the other qualities on your list, but not the particular one in question. If you would walk away, leave the item on the list. If not, then cross it off.
What you have left are your true deal-breakers — the qualities that absolutely must be present in your partner. Stop searching for someone who meets your ideal, and focus on finding a true love who fits your deal-breaker list instead.
5. Learn to say yes.
Whether you believe in a higher power, the universe, karma, or something else, having the faith to say yes to the opportunities around you opens you up to real love.
Rather than automatically reacting with fear and doubt, try saying yes to new experiences. Pursue a hobby you always wanted to try, take a random trip with your friends or on your own, or simply learn to fully connect with your daily experiences. Living an active and dynamic life not only makes it more likely that you will meet your true love, but ensures that you are an interesting and well-balanced person in your own right.
There is no magical formula for finding your true love.
Instead, focus on creating an excellent relationship with yourself, forgiving your past, and learning what you require in a partner, and you will be in a wonderful position to recognize that person when he or she appears.
Interested in the science of attraction and how it can help your relationship? We are neuroscientist Lucy L. Brown, PhD and biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD — and we are eager to help you put the Anatomy of Love to work in your life.
This article was originally published at The Anatomy of Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.