3 Things You Must Do Before You Can Find True Love

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man and woman

If there's one piece of dating advice you should know, it's this: If your love life expectations are unrealistic, you'll never learn how to find true love or attract healthy relationships.

When it comes to your boyfriend or girlfriend checklist, it is not so much that one or two of your expectations are completely improbable; rather, you may have so many (relatively rational) expectations that you end up creating a huge shopping list — not realizing there is no shop in the world that could possibly stock all those goods.

Being too specific about what you expect in a partner leaves little room for anyone to fill the void, which leaves you feeling unhappy in love.

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Expectations about the type of relationship you see yourself in can also be problematic. Look out for contradictions in what you think you want, so you don’t set yourself up to fail by saying things like, "He will be totally loving and attentive, yet still remain intriguing and mysterious."

Also, don’t believe that the relationship will always feel as passionate as it does in the first few months. Chemistry is a trickster; it’s important to separate chemistry from compatibility and check that you and your partner have enough of both.

If you are enamored with someone, it can be easy to feel that nothing else matters. However, in order for a relationship to go the distance, it’s crucial that there's more involved than just lust. There also needs to be respect, friendship, and intimacy that goes beyond the physical.

And lust does very often fade — scientists have even managed to track this. They believe a hardwired "love" response evolved because it kept two people together long enough for their offspring to survive (in hunter-gatherer communities, young infants would have needed two parents to survive). They estimate that the honeymoon period lasts for about two years.

You should only enter a relationship that is based purely on instant chemistry if your expectations are aligned: You both only want to have fun. However, if you want a fulfilling, long-term relationship, you need to be realistic about the effort needed to maintain the chemistry and think about how compatible you really are.

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The right man or woman cannot fix your life or "complete" you. Forget all the rom-coms you've seen and the façade of happy couples around you.

Instead, spend some time making sure they are as fulfilled and happy as you are. Love can't blossom and flourish if you're both not feeding positivity into it. Only then will you be in a position to meet someone from whom you will not demand too much (and ultimately drive away).

Here are 3 things you must do to shed your unhealthy expectations before you can attract healthy relationships and learn how to find love that lasts.

1. Prioritize your checklist.

Don't confuse the unrealistic expectations on your list of relationship deal-breakers with the high expectations, as this is a common mistake for many people. High expectations do not need to be unrealistic as long as they reflect reality, following a true evaluation of yourself. Intelligent, successful, and driven women are compatible with equally intelligent, affluent men.

2. Set boundaries.

Next, set some boundaries and have a clear idea of what you will not put up with. Start with a little work on yourself. Knowing yourself and being honest is a great first step to take. You should never compromise your core values for a relationship.

3. Identify your core values.

Start with the "tangibles". For example, do you want children? Work out what your views are on marriage, family life, male and female roles, etc.

Look at your lifestyle, health, and fitness habits (including smoking, drinking, and/or using drugs), your energy levels, your interests, your life stage, your religious practices and political beliefs — even your location.

Also, ask yourself what kind of relationship would work for you. What is your attachment style in relationships? How do you respond to affection? What is your sex drive like?

Most importantly, once you have all this information, stay open-minded. Many people can be compatible with you without sharing all the same interests, so do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to have everything in common (except, of course, major long-term desires such as having children or not).

Chemistry is important as well, but understanding the limitations of lust will give you a more realistic view of what genuine love consists of.

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Dr. Georgina Barnett is a counseling psychologist who wants to help people create deep, emotionally intimate relationships that last a lifetime, as well as a matchmaker at Seventy Thirty, a luxury matchmaking service.

This article was originally published at Seventy Thirty. Reprinted with permission from the author.