The First Place to LookThe first place to find love is inside yourself. If you have good, healthy, sufficient self-love your chances of finding good, healthy, real love go up dramatically. If you are hoping that someone loving you will make you okay and then you will be able to love yourself, that can happen but there is a danger.
When you are really hungry for love you may accept anything that looks like love but all too likely, it will not be the real thing. If you are starved and desperate for love, you are in danger of becoming entangled in a destructive false love. So, work on your healthy, real self-love and you are much more likely to draw someone to you of quality and real love ability (see “Getting Healthy, Real Love in Your Life”).
Non-Conscious and Conscious SearchingIf you are undernourished for love or just love hungry, your subconscious (deeper parts of your brain) probably are actively searching for love sources whether your conscious mind knows it or not. Some people believe the romantic myth that if you consciously go looking for love, you won’t find it because love has to be something you fall into or it falls upon you. Believing that just may make it harder to find. Mounting evidence strongly suggests that your conscious cooperating with your subconscious while looking for love is likely to work best.
What Is “Finding Love”?Let us be clear about what finding love really means. Most people mean finding a special heart-mate to love and be loved by in an emotionally close life partner way. Some just mean a good sex partner and others just want someone to be officially married to, while still others want an endless romantic involvement. There are lots of people who definitely do not mean finding an equal adult-to-adult life partner kind of love. There are lots of people who say they want to find love but their real reasons have nothing to do with actual love. They may just want safety, to be taken care of, someone to control or be controlled by, etc.
So it is very important that you become clear about what finding love is really all about for you. Do you know enough about love to be reasonably sure that is what you really are looking for? (See “Definitions of Love Series”) Do you know enough about yourself to know why you are looking to find love? It could be it just is natural to do that but are there other reasons?
Quite a few relational authorities who think that what we really are doing when we are hoping to find love is actually looking to find a good candidate to grow a healthy, real, lasting love life with. Once we find a good candidate our subconscious finds acceptable enough, we then start on the issues of learning how to do love-relating with that person – or not.
Two Ways to FindAccidentally just stumbling across something or actively searching for something are the two ways to find anything, including love. Actively searching works better if you do it smart (see“Hunting for Love”). Furthermore, when you actively think about searching for a heart-mate, you learn more and you lessen the risk involved in making the gamble of love. Also, remember love does not have to always be from just one, special other spouse-type person. You can get and give love lots of different ways, in lots of different forms of relationship (see “A Dozen Kinds of Love to Have in Your Life”).
Knowing Love When You Find ItThe romantic myth is you will just know it when you find it because it will feel so strong and different from everything else. A great many divorced people say they used to believe that myth. The truth is several forms of false love feel just a strong and make people feel just as sure they found real love as does authentic love. Another truth is that attraction is not love but it gets easily confused with falling in love (see “Attraction or Love or What?”, Link “Fatal Attraction Syndrome – A False Form of Love”, “False Forms of Love: Unresolved Conflict Attraction Syndrome”). Some people say you can not know if it is real love or not until you have given it at least six months to grow (see “It Might Be Healthy, Real Love If...”, “Love Is Patient”, “Definitions of Love Series”).
What Most People Are Looking ForOne way to find love is by looking for its characteristics showing up in people you meet. More together, okay and mature people see the prime, characteristic feature of love to be caring. Caring is the tendency to empathetically and emotionally care and to behaviorally give care to others especially when they are in distress. To care about the well-being, the feelings (both physical and emotional), the growth and development, the quality of life and the future of a person are all involved here. Caring shows high valuing of who and what is cared about which is a major characteristic of healthy, real love. Without caring, the ability to love, at best, is limited.
The second characteristic is the ability to be and interact intimately. That means emotionally, sexually, mentally and behaviorally. It also means to make oneself vulnerable via authentic self-disclosure of what is real within oneself. That can include idiosyncrasies, failings, foibles, weaknesses and ordinariness. But it also includes revealing what is confident, successful, excellent and just plain good about oneself. Good intimacy also includes lovingly dealing with the same factors coming from another in ways that show tolerance, acceptance, noncritical understanding and affirmation.
The third factor most more okay people see as representing love is the ability to emotionally connect and, once connected, become dedicated to staying caringly connected irrespective of any and all difficulties that might destroy the caring connection. This characteristic usually is called commitment.
The fourth factor has to do with having and demonstrating strong, positive feelings about and for a loved one. It is sometimes known as passionate love and may include sexual feelings and actions but it also involves being intensely for and on the side of the loved. Feelings of being bonded to and loyal to the loved one also are included here.
Less mature, less okay and certain, but not all, more emotionally troubled individuals are much more likely to think attraction impulses and feelings signify real, heart-mate love. All too often, this attraction-based belief does not work out well for lasting, love relating. Attraction can lead to love beginning but it is a different thing.
Finding Someone Good to Love and be Loved ByTo find that special someone, do lots and lots of active looking. Do that looking as many ways as possible but do it smart. Go where love-oriented people go. They go where they can be caring to, for and about others, and/or for things of intense, intrinsic value. They often have careers or avocations that work to achieve worthy, constructive results that benefit others. They tend to volunteer for stuff that makes improvements happen of one sort or another. They may be involved in adamant love for various causes having to do with making the world a better place to live in (see “Adamant Love – And How It Wins for Us All”). Whatever they do they tend to use whatever they can for the good of somebody or something.
Some people are kind of afraid to love someone like that. They may fear not being good enough or becoming trapped in a goody good, societal sphere. That is seldom the case. Such people, as described here, often are iconoclastic, individualistic to a fault, and fierce about fighting for what they believe in. They also can be quite fun-loving and positive about life.
Love-able and love-oriented people can be found almost anywhere but not so much where more harm is being done than good, or where there is more greed-orientation than contributory. Their position often is more of the “I win, you win, everybody can win” approach than of the “I must win, you must lose to me” way of dealing with the world.
The Three A’s for Finding LoveThe three A’s for finding love stand for assertiveness, attitude and action. When you use these your chances for finding healthy, real love start to look good. So, let’s look at each.
Assertiveness means being friendly and lovingly assertive and it is not to be confused with aggressiveness. Aggressiveness can mean being pushy, annoying, contentious, snide and a host of other undesirable things. Friendly, loving assertiveness is accomplished by smiles and pleasant facial expressions, gestures, posture movement, voice tones and positive word choice. Friendly, loving assertiveness tends to attract an array of rather fine people.
Attitude means something you first do for yourself. Many people find they can self-talk themselves into a good attitude. A bold, socially adventuresome attitude helps a lot. Developing a good attitude gets you ready to take the necessary social risks for finding a good heart-mate. Being mindful of your physical safety is important but being too socially safe gets in the way. If you get yourself embarrassed you probably doing something right. Think about the attitude you want to project. Loving, friendly, caring, sexy, joyous, healthful, confident, self- loving (not arrogant) and love-positive toward life likely will do you well.
Action means do just about everything you can think of to do and also enjoy the adventure of it all. Yes, use the Internet but also go some places and get a bit involved. Everything from A for art to Z for zoos has groups of people organized and meeting to support or be involved with those things. Most of these places have some very fine people you probably would like to meet. Self-talk yourself into a good attitude and go assertively and meet some of them. Don’t worry much about what they think of you. Be more concerned with what you think of them but give them a chance and don’t be too negative. That is self-defeating. Scan the group for who looks most interesting and go talk to those people.
Some Other Things to DoRead these related mini-love-lessons: “Getting Healthy, Real Love In Your Life”, “Above Normal Love”, “From Self-Love to Other Love And Back Again” and “Willing and Ready for Love?”. Give some thought to the study of love itself so you consciously can think about it. That will help you cooperate better with your subconscious in finding what you want. Give some effort to focusing on growing and giving love and the major ways that is done. It’s not all about just getting love. Good heart-mate love usually includes sexuality so if you are not already OK get Ok with sex and especially love expressed in sex along with sexiness.
One More ThingTalk all this over with some others and see if they might want to go with you as you adventure into new groups of people. While you are at it, please mention this mini-love-lesson and this site. Thank you.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly