Love and relationship advice
Wednesday 02 February 2011
Around Valentine’s Day, love is very much in the air - you can almost hear the flutter of Cupid’s wings.
But if you don’t have a partner, it can be rough. All the loved-up couples heading off for intimate dinners and goofy-looking guys clutching bunches of red roses are not exactly what singletons want to see.
But never fear: whether you’re looking for love or determined to make your relationship a happy and long-lasting one, follow my dating advice and all will be well…
My first tip may not seem very romantic, but it’s vital to find lasting love: get real and stop fantasising about finding ‘the one’.
A thousand Hollywood romcoms (yes you, Aniston) might have convinced you that your beefcake with a heart of gold is just around the corner, but holding out for Mr Perfect when Mr Perfectly Good is right in front of you isn’t wise.
Of course, for a relationship to work you need to fancy each other, but you also need to be compatible; to enjoy spending time (both exciting and dull) together; to accept each other, warts and all. Otherwise, once all the lust and romance ebbs away, you’ll realise he’s imperfectly human after all, and move on to the next guy… and the next, seeking something that only exists in the movies.
If you’ve been single for a while, it can be even harder to find someone. It’s easy to get downhearted when the ones you like never like you (isn’t that always the way?), are married, commitment-phobic or gay.
Like everything in life, sometimes you have a bad run, when one dating disaster after the next makes you want to give up and run a cats-and-dogs home instead.
As a coach, one of the key values I teach my clients is persistence. For instance, if you’re trying to bag a new job, there’s no point giving up after a few rubbish interviews. The people who succeed are the ones who pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get back into the fray.
It’s the same with love – to find the man/relationship that’s just right for you, you’ll probably have to suffer a few duff ones along the way. Be determined, persistent and optimistic and you’ll be washing each others’ pants (a sure sign of true commitment) before you know it.
Keep your independence
When you do find your special person, it’s easy to settle into a domestic comfort zone and stop making the effort to socialise. Friends get ditched, party invitations ignored and old hobbies abandoned, because you want to spend every free minute with your lover.
Trouble is, once the hormones have burned off and you’re into long-term relationship territory, spending too much time together can be fatal. Even the most compatible couples need to maintain independent lives and see their friends from time to time. Otherwise ‘can’t bear to be apart’ will turn into ‘can’t stand the sight of each other’ in the blink of an eye.
Get some help
Sometimes, there’s a deeper reason you can’t find love. You may have grown up in a toxic family situation, so associate relationships with anger, pain or abuse. Or you may have been so broken-hearted by the end of a past relationship that you’ve lost the ability to trust or make yourself vulnerable.You may have experienced domestic violence or infidelity, which left deep wounds that need healing.
If so, it can be really helpful to see a counsellor or coach specialising in relationships. Relate (www.relate.org.uk) offers advice and support on all aspects of love and relationships, and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (www.bacp.co.uk) can recommend a good counsellor or therapist in your area.
Or see the Association for Coaching’s site (www.associationforcoaching.com) for a list of qualified life coaches. And, of course, I’m happy to help too.
As the Wellbeing Coach, Dan Roberts is an expert on health and personal growth. He coaches clients face to face in north London and the City and over the phone/Skype on issues like stress, confidence, assertiveness, relationships and all-round physical and mental wellbeing. See www.danroberts.com for more information about Dan's coaching, writing and workshops.