Guidance for Women: How to Meet the Love of Your Life

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Probably the most important decision that you will make in your life is who to have as a life mate and who to co-parent with in raising your children. This is a sacred passage in your life, often referred to as the Intimacy Phase of being emotionally close in a committed relationship to another human who is dedicated to you over the long haul. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. According to recent data, about 35-50% of first marriages end in divorce, while second marriages have a higher divorce rate of 60-70+%. Many of us could benefit from learning how to pick our partners more wisely since the lasting damage of selecting the wrong mate can disillusion us for life and cause immense suffering for our children.

I am writing this article because of my counseling work of 40 years with women in relationships. I have seen so many painful situations regarding women which often lead me to ask, “How could such a loving and smart woman make such bad choices in relationships?” Women seem to already know what is going on in relationships, unlike men. They talk themselves out of what they already know or else mistakenly believe that they have the power to change men who are in relationship with them. Women too often get shortchanged in relationships with men. They lose their identity to men, allow themselves to be made crazy by men who are gaslighting them and they ruin their lives trying to save hopeless and abusive men they are with. Women tend to disempower themselves when they are intimate with men. How this happens is the subject of this article. Clearly, some women do find good and dependable men to be with for long term relationships. This is because they are smart, make good choices in men and don’t fall for the sacrificial views of women portrayed in pop culture.

So how does this misuse of women happen? Unfortunately, our cultural training of women for relationships sets them up for failure. Too many women don’t have loving relationships with their dads, and they devalue themselves. Rather than being sane and rational in courtships with men and driving a hard bargain they tend to immerse themselves in romantic fantasies, elaborate wedding receptions, status-seeking in social relationships and drooling over hot men. Too many women are prone to adopt the Taylor Swift view of love and are more than willing to Too many women don’t have loving relationships with their dads, and they devalue themselves.fork over $1000 for just one night to hear her in concert. This insanity is only made worse by the wedding industry where big bucks are to be made in two people tying the knot. The average wedding cost in 2020 in MN was $33,900. There certainly is room for drooling over a life partner, as that’s half the fun of getting married after all. However, the most important part of picking a suitable life mate is staying in touch with reality―knowing what you have and want in a partner, doing a thorough reality check on whether the person you are choosing truly fulfills these wishes over an extended period of time (at least a year), and realistically discerning whether you yourself are ready for a mature intimate relationship. It always takes two to tango in a healthy relationship.

While it’s fun to enter a new partnership with lots of romantic fantasies, it’s way more fun to be realistic and know in your bones that your beloved is someone you can really count on for life based on the actual evidence of being with him. When it comes to love, the real thing is always better than any pretending. The character of the man you’re with is the best guarantee of your future family happiness.

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Tips of the trade in meeting men

Know yourself well enough and develop a set of trustworthy strong women who will be honest with you when it comes to men. Allow these women to tell you what you don’t want to hear. Realize there is world of difference between sex and love. Men often offer love to women because all they want is sex and women have sex with men when they just want to be loved. Sometimes these differences are reversed with women idealizing sex and men yearning for love. The trick is to know what you yourself are most looking for. Realize that true love is not a feeling but a behavior where you put yourself in your partner’s shoes and do something that is kind from his point of view. Realize that you cannot feel truly loved by a man if you make no requests of him. For example, you may sometimes just want to be held by your partner and forgo sexual intercourse. You may be surprised that he sometimes feels that way himself. Recognize that sex and love-making ought to be about having fun, comforting to each other, and being close.

Recognize what good character looks like in men. It’s the ability in men to do the right and compassionate thing even when no one is looking. It’s not about charm, charisma, or being entertaining. It’s not about being confident, looking strong or having big muscles. It has more to do with leaving a big tip even when the service is bad, calling your mother for no reason and being willing to take care of her when she is sick, being actively involved with social justice, donating to charities, forgiving others for their transgressions, putting other people first in social gatherings, helping an elderly man who falls on the street, babysitting his nieces and nephews, and sincerely showing compassion when you’ve had a bad day. These are the behaviors that make men keepers. He is the rock in your life who will show up for you time after time.

Certainly, it’s nice if the guy you’re with can turn a few heads and thinks you’re beautiful. Just make sure he doesn’t do that to all the women who he meets. Make sure that he has boundaries with women. That you get included and chosen first in mixed social relations and that he knows when to turn down doing nice things for other women. You always ought to feel like a priority in his life as he is in your life.

Make sure that he gives you plenty of room to breathe and be yourself. Also, expect him to honor your friends even when he doesn’t like them. He ought never tell you which friends you can see or how often you can see them. It’s especially vital to stay connected to your friends when you are in a relationship. Your friends are essentially your identity and life savers.

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Run away ASAP from any man who wants to control you, is jealous of your male friends, has temper tantrums when you don’t oblige him, or shows a pattern of putting you down for something you are proud of. Be wary of a man who showers you with attention, constantly flatters you and craves your attention. These patterns only get worse over time. They are signs of emotional attachment issues and can turn into domestic partner abuse. Never blame yourself for why men act this way (as they also do that to other girlfriends they are with). Controlling men are the most dangerous men to be with and they make terrible boyfriends. Just remember the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Definitely get a mentor or therapist to guide you in relating to men, especially when you have had no loving dad in your life. Bad men are often drawn to women who have been abused by men since they are easier to control and more naïve than women who’ve been close to their caring fathers. Never get desperate for relating to men. There are always more fish in the pond and caring men you can relate to for the rest of your life. If you’re reading this article and taking it seriously, chances are that you are a woman who is well worth knowing and you have nothing to prove.

My honest admission

I want to be honest with you, the reader. Otherwise, I may give you the wrong impression in my writings. I have not always been this wise person when it comes to women. I currently enjoy a most loving relationship with my wife of 34 years. She is the dearest person in my life. However, it wasn’t easy finding her I was married three times each for two years before I met my wife. It’s a wonder that she even gave me a chance for redemption. Due to a lack of a father in my life, I mistakenly believed that having a hot babe who drives a sports car would be my ticket to happiness. I can certify that it wasn’t. I was never more miserable in my life. Fortunately, the loving memory of my mom and grandma returned me to sanity, as well as the caring efforts of a good male therapist. I realized that I deserved to be loved by the most caring woman I could find, a real Mother Teresa, because I myself am a most loving and lovable person. I didn’t have to settle for the stereotypes of what males want in this society. I have never been happier in my life. Sometimes love comes to us when we open our hearts to love for as long as it takes. Please don’t give up on love for yourself either. It’s never too late.

John H. Driggs, LICSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in St. Paul and co-author of Intimacy Between Men.

Last Updated on July 14, 2023

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