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How to Date Authentically: 4 Lessons

Photo by The 10 cent designer
I will have a loving, committed, and fulfilling romantic relationship.

I created this affirmation several months ago to remind myself that the type of relationship I want is possible.

But, to be honest, sometimes I wonder if I will ever find someone. I wonder if maybe I have too many issues or if my standards are too high. At times, I even question whether I am capable of having a healthy relationship.

Whenever I’m feeling particularly hopeless, I look back over the experiences I’ve had and remind myself that I have grown tremendously and have learned so much about myself through my dating experiences.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that ultimately, dating is about me: my behaviors, attitudes and beliefs about love. As I’ve learned more and more about myself, I have started to attract others who mirror the qualities I value most.

Why Space Matters in Relationships

Photo by HANNES CASPAR
Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. ~Kahlil Gibran

If my life had been perfect, I probably never would have learned anything. Or at least not anything important.

I used to have a naïve view of relationships. I believed wholeheartedly that if two nice people got together and made a real effort to treat each other well, then everything would work out fine.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

10 Life Lessons Learned From Kids

Photo by Lauren Rosenbaum
Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson. ~Alan Cohen

Twirling in her pink tutu, slightly tattered and always a little dirty, my niece opens her arms wide, calling for all of us to get up and dance with her. She wants to hold hands while we jump, spin and leap around the room.

She shouts along to the music, reminding each of us that we should be joining in. “Papa sing! It’s your turn Papa!” Panting and out of breath, we try our hardest to match her undying energy.

After the music — she asks for Justin Bieber by name now — starts to fade, she drops our hands and holds out her arms again. “Ok everyone, it’s time for a group hug!”

We haven’t purposely partaken in a group hug for years now, but we oblige because her smile is contagious and her enthusiasm is impossible to tame.

4 Ways to Say What You Want

Photo by Eduardoizq
I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. ~Brene Brown

Do you ever fear that voicing your needs and desires —saying what you want — makes you selfish and will cause people to dislike you?

I used to be terrified of taking a stand for myself — saying “no” or “I don’t want to” or “I disagree.” I was so desperate to fit in and please others that I’d completely forgo my own wishes and innermost needs.

This denial of my truest self probably led to the anorexia I developed at the age of 10 — a disorder that I wouldn’t be able to shake off for 14 years.

Even when I got married, I did so despite my inner voice urging me to wait. Again, I listened to someone else’s wants at the expense of my own. So I said ‘I do,’ feeling slightly sick and knowing that I was walking down the wrong path.

A Lesson on Being Vulnerable

Photo by Hannes Caspar
We want to know that we matter. We want to know that we were heard and that what we had to say meant something. ~Oprah Winfrey

I knew I should say something but the thought of opening my mouth to speak terrified me. I sat suffering silently to myself.

The longer I waited for him to pay attention to me, the more agitated I became. Anger, indignity and feelings of rejection spread through my body, heating every inch of me from within.

How dare he ignore me after I had come all this way to spend time with him? Did he expect me to sit here alone all night? How could he possibly not know I was angry?

When I finally mustered up enough courage to share my feelings with him he laughed, told me I was “pouting” and that he didn’t have the energy to help me deal with my “stuff.”

How to Deal with a Broken Heart

Photo by Hannes Caspar
Editor’s Note

This article was written in partnership with eHarmony.com

I grab at my chest afraid that my heart might somehow explode out of my chest. I feel like I’m dying. I close my eyes and prepare for death. It’s got to be less painful than this.

Even lying on the bed requires too much energy. Somehow I manage to roll onto the floor. I am now literally laying flat on my back. My breath comes in short spurts. I try not to inhale too deeply because if I allow myself to breathe, I know that I will feel the searing pain in my heart.

So I hold my breath, anticipating the next wave of pain.

Inhale…inhale…exhale…sob…hold breath…repeat.

In a way it’s almost like giving birth.

How to Embrace Challenges

Photo by Winona Grey
There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its reward is that it’s easy. ~Unknown

When I was younger, struggling to form bonds with my peers and muscle my way through the turmoil that is adolescence, I always pictured my life ten, twenty, thirty years down the road like an enjoyable trip down a lazy river — one that flowed effortlessly, guided by the wisdom I had gathered throughout the years.

I looked forward to the day when I could reach a plateau and things would come easily, because I had strength, knowledge and an abundance of resources at my disposal. I would be married with kids, surrounded by love that would never evade me.

To me, with age came certainty, stability, ease and grace. I thought that all of the awkwardness that comes with growth and change would be a thing of my past.

So, as I entered my twenties, I spent a great deal of time searching for “perfection” in my personal and professional life, believing that the only way to curb the constant upheaval from growth and change would be to find the relationship and career that would make everything else fall into place.

My Story of Overcoming Fear

Photo by Valerio Boncompagni
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free. ~Jim Morrison

I was pacing back and forth after the plans were almost finalized.

I was going, finally, to meet this guy who I’ve been chatting with from an online dating site–my first foray into the world of online dating!

As soon as I hung up the phone with him, I was trying to talk myself out of going. I was trying to think of the possible reasons why I had to cancel.

The lame excuses included: I had to take my cat to the vet. There was a work deadline I had to meet. I came down with the flu.

Why was I being such a “Sissy La-La” about this?

I was afraid.

Couples Counseling – 6 Truths

Photo by Cari Ann Wayman

I’ve seen it happen so many times: In casual conversation, without really thinking about it, I start a sentence off with, “Our couples counselor…” and I’m startled when I see the eyebrows raise.

Amid what has become my utterly ordinary reality–we see a couples counselor–I forget myself. I forget that for most people, working with a couples counselor is the sort of thing you’d only reveal to intimate friends and family (and perhaps not even then).

But this is my truth: my partner of seven-plus years and I work with a couples counselor, and have done so since about the two-year mark of our relationship.

25 Things to Avoid for Better Relationships

Photo by Karrah Kobus
Life is relationships. The rest is just details. ~Dr. Scott Sticksel

Last week, I had lunch with my colleagues.

One guy from a different department (I’ll call him Dave) joined us at our table. I’ve only interacted with Dave a couple of times before, so I don’t know him very well.

When we all started to eat, Dave began expressively describing the problems he was facing at work.

He then went on to talk about some of his college experiences.

Next, he explained an issue his family was going through and what he was doing to resolve it.

With surprising ease, he transitioned to narrate, in great detail, a near-death experience he’d had five years before.

That brought us to the end of lunch.

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