Learn lessons of love before looking for it

Dating under the best of circumstances is a competitive, modern-day mating ritual that thrusts our worst insecurities to the surface, only to have what confidence still exists unmercifully tossed and battered in the waves of dating confusion.

In a desperate attempt to find the right person before someone else does, many single people have unwittingly turned to technology –– Internet dating services. Fast, efficient and deceptively impersonal, the information highway of the 21st century is able to connect people with potential romantic interests from all over the state and around the world.

With technology at our fingertips and more opportunities than ever before, how does a gal or guy proceed? I am offering four basic lessons of love that should be mastered before taking up the challenge of finding a mate.

• Telling the truth increases your opportunities to find love.

Love requires honesty. Without honesty, what we seek is masked by deceit. Misrepresentation or even omission of the truth will not lead to the healthy, fulfilling relationship that you genuinely desire. Lies are convenient; love shouldn’t be. If you have been tempted to lie in order to impress another or have found yourself tangled in a messy web of dishonesty, then you need to brave the truth.

• Choose not to make decisions regarding love based on fear of loneliness.

Decisions motivated by fear of loneliness are faulty at best and will ultimately lead to disappointment and unhappiness. The paralyzing effects of fear should not be allowed to influence matters of the heart. Living in fear is akin to living in a constant state of alarm or preparation for danger and may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Wanting to pursue someone because you are afraid of living alone will lead to disappointment in your relationship.

• Know yourself before sharing your love with another.

Long-term, committed, monogamous relationships result in the development of the couple, whereupon the identity of the individual and self could be lost. “You” becomes “we.” If you don’t know who you are, how can you expect to love and care for another? Get to really know who you are, so you will have a better idea of what you want in a partnership. A clear sense of self is important to recognize before embarking on a relationship.

• Take risks to find or create social opportunities in order to meet new people.

Sitting at home watching TV in the comfort of your home doesn’t create opportunities to meet others. Venture out your front door and get involved. Take up a new hobby, find a church community, join a singles group or participate in a sport. Actively make opportunities to get out and meet people. At worst, you will have fun and meet some new friends. And at best, you could find someone worth sharing your life with.

In conclusion, stop sitting around bemoaning the lack of romance in your life. Learn to appreciate yourself, discontinue your fear of loneliness, get out and take some risks, and practice truthfulness in your romantic relationship. And, view tge Valentine’s Day celebration as an opportunity to discover love in your own life.

Jennifer L. Gray, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist who provides individual, couple and family counseling. She can be reached at (253) 653-0168 or Psychotherapy Associates, Parklane Executive Center, 31620 23rd Ave. S., Suite 318, Federal Way, WA 98003.

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