Millions of singles across the world are looking to create relationship bliss. It takes time. It requires energy. It mandates desire. A lot of people have all that. What they don't have is a valid and reliable Roadmap to Relationship Success. Whether they're accessing Yahoo Maps or their personal database-if the information used to create a Roadmap is faulty, they'll end up lost. If you're single and feeling lost, here are five easy steps that you can take toward creating your dream relationship.
Step One: Define your belief system
Ask yourself this question-what information have I built my belief system upon? If you don't have a precise answer, it's likely that your database is full of faulty information. Thus, the first step toward relationship bliss is to determine what were the sources of information that went into creating your roadmap. For example, if you're a man and believe that if you rescue a woman, or if you're a woman who believes that you need to play the role of damsel in distress, then you have based some part of your belief system on a fairy tale. Bad thing to do! Great relationships are created when two strong people work hard to create a loving and beautiful relationship. Rescuers and damsel's in distress often suffer from low self-esteem. So, as you define your belief system, which includes morals and values, be on the lookout for useless knowledge that needs to be deleted and replaced with personal truths that will propel you toward creating relationship harmony and success. Create this new information from reality and personal experience, not from fairy tales, movies, and soap operas.
Step Two: Stop doing what you've been doing.
Look back at your relationship history. Do you constantly repeat dating rituals and patterns. If jumping into bed by the third date is common practice, has this worked for you? If the answer is "No," then why do you keep thinking that this will lead to relationship success? I'm a fan of Seinfeld. One of my favorite episodes is when George decides that since everything that he does leads to unhappiness, he will do the opposite of his natural instinct. And, it works! This, of course, is an exaggeration of what I am recommending. But try being "George" for a day-break out of your fruitless habits and try something new. If going to bars to meet people hasn't worked, then go to a bookstore. If getting physically involved quickly hasn't worked, then wait. Break a link in your chain of unfulfilling habits. What do you have to lose?
Step Three: Stop running from emotional pain
At a young age, we learn that pain is bad. Documenting knowledge about pain began from the moment you were forced out into this world from your mother's womb and felt that sharp slap across your bottom. With this slap, you were introduced to a harsh reality of our world: it is full of painful experiences. With every emotional and/or physical painful experience in life, you have the opportunity to write and store knowledge about pain. You add new volumes every year. Moments of unhappiness, confusion, failure, depression, and the act of making the same mistakes over and over, all present the opportunity for you to write and store productive knowledge about pain. The problem is that most people, who continuously struggle in relationships and life, create volumes of identical information about emotional pain. They never take the time to write new lessons about pain. Instead they run off to the next relationship, crawl into a bottle, or numb themselves with drugs. Take time to learn from your emotional pain, don't run from it-it's telling you that you're belief system needs to be updated and you need to make different choices. Think of your emotional pain as an ally and teacher who wants to help you create a happiness. Pain isn't bad, it's a necessary experience on the road of personal growth. The great news is that the further along the road you get, the chance of experiencing relationship pain diminishes.
Step Four: Don't ignore warning signs.
If you have suffered a lot of painful relationship moments, it's likely that you ignored warning signs that danger was looming. We all want to believe that we have developed good assessment skills and that, for the most part, most human beings are loving and caring. Thus, when we see or experience a relationship moment that doesn't quite feel right, a lot of us are inclined to brush it off or give the person the benefit of the doubt. Not a good thing to do! If a warning sign appears, don't ignore it. Rather, play close attention and deal with it. Why spend months or even years trying to create a lasting relationship with someone who is not right for you. Do you really think that you can change them? Do you really think the behavior that led to "red alert" is an isolated incident? Don't kid yourself. Move on and find someone who doesn't cause you anxiety and pain.
Step Five: Love yourself first
A lot of people look to others to make them feel like a whole person. You've likely heard the expression, "My other half." I use the expression, "My other whole." If you're looking for another person to fulfill you, good luck. Try fulfilling yourself first. Once you feel that you are an empowered individual-that will not accept any inappropriate behavior from a significant other, you are well on your way to relationship bliss. A person who loves him or herself, values him or herself and won't tolerate anyone treating him/her poorly. Learn to be alone and happy with yourself. Then go out and look for a partner. You'll likely find that your standards will be far higher and, with that, you'll attract a whole "new and improved" population of prospective mates.
By incorporating these basic philosophies into your life, you'll greatly increase the probability of finding your "soul mate." Once you have created your new roadmap to relationship success, follow it closely. You can't change others, you can only change yourself. Have fun making these changes and never give up. Remember, it's the struggle that sets the stage for greatness.
Rod Louden is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Woodland Hills, California and the author of Monster Relationships: Taming the Beasts that are Killing Your Relationships. To sign up for Rod's free monthly relationship advice newsletter, please visit http://www.monsterrelationships.com