Ask Arya: “How do I attract and keep my soulmate?”
Bruce Lee once said, “LOVE is friendship caught on fire.”
And yet, so few of us are able to learn how to turn our brief infatuations into the long-term sexual friendship we call love (Glasser & Glasser, 2007).
As a couples counselor specializing in mating behaviors/ human sexuality, I am often asked what the secret is to long-lasting love is.
How do I find the RIGHT one?
How can we keep it HOT year after year??
My answer is nothing new. Your grandma and other experts have been saying it for years – BE THE RIGHT ONE.
In other words, figure out what makes YOU tick; what YOUR basic needs are and then be so authentically grounded in that, the right one who complements you well will be that much more attracted to you!
How does this work?
As a reality therapist, I view all human beings as enjoying differing amounts of the same 5 basic needs:
- Survival (e.g., hormonal sexuality, risk taking, money matters, security, safety)
- Love & Belonging (e.g., affection, emotional intimacy, family relations, friends, membership)
- Power (e.g., achievement, accomplishments, control of my life, competition, pride, influence, importance)
- Freedom (e.g., movement, mobility, independence, decisiveness, many choices, creativeness, fearlessness)
- Fun (e.g., laughter, learning, activities, hobbies, amusements, games, sense of humor)
So ask yourself, how much of each of these is important to me at this time in my life?
Dating is often like playing video games. Each potential partner brings strengths and vulnerabilities to the table that then combine with ours.
This is why it is SO CRUCIAL to know your own preferences for what brings YOU fulfillment FIRST. By your powers combined, you will either be one helluva power couple or one helluva hot mess.
I’ve been alpha males who light every cell of my body on fire passion wise, yet who leave me feeling insecure and claustrophobic if they don’t also have a high need for freedom like I do. And then I’ve also been with the philosophical poetic types who make me swoon the second they open their mouths, yet are TOO HIGH on the freedom spectrum for my own preference.
Moving from attraction to long-term relationship is a cha-cha for the brave and the vulnerable.
Opposites attract or birds of a feather flock together?
Psychological research consistently shows that while opposites attract is great for infatuation and procreation, it can spell disaster in the long-term if couples don’t learn how to navigate their differences in those 5 basic needs we just talked about (Glasser & Glasser, 2007).
What’s interesting is that research also shows that arranged marriages have just as high, if not higher, satisfaction ratings and longevity than those who are free to chose his/her spouse. Why? Experts believe it’s a combination of factors from lowered overly idealistic expectations and an understanding that infatuation is fleeting and we’re going to have to work at this thing we call LOVE.
So what it truly boils down to is – “How compatible is the way that you attempt to satisfy your basic needs with the way your potential or current partner does it?” (Glasser & Glasser, 2007).
Once you got ’em, you gotta keep ’em!
My best advice to couples at any stage in the love game is to FREQUENTY ask themselves these questions:
What will it be like OR what is it like to be married/ in a long-term relationship with ME?
What can I do to bring out the BEST in my partner?
This is very different from the egocentric, self-entitled narrative we’re used to in our heads. And yet I promise you, it is the ONLY way to ever achieve long-lasting happiness because, once again, you cannot control anyone but YOU. So if you focus on bringing your A-game to the table, and continually seek to be the “talent scout” for your partner, it’s a continual win-win for everyone!
Specifically, keeping love alive requires:
- Consistently taking an active interest in your partner’s life
- Treating your partner with respect – always “seeking first to understand”
- Helping your partner feel significant and focusing on his/her positive attributes
- Learning to deal with conflict in a gentle, positive way that softens anger and promotes compromise and a sense of teamwork
- Developing hopes and dreams that help you and your partner live a life that matters (e.g., What will our legacy be?)
- Refraining from criticism that too often leads to defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
— Britzman, M. & Nagelhout, S. (2012)
If your current relationship isn’t all you were originally hoping for, I HIGHLY recommend William and Carleen Glasser’s book, Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage, that talks about these themes in greater detail.
And if you could use a little extra help from a professional, please give us a call or email us to see if we’d be a good fit for you. (850) 516-9590 or Tamara@aryatherapy.com. We’d love to speak with you about the specifics of your own situation.
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Tamara Powell, LMHC is the founder of Arya Therapy Services, a Pensacola based counseling and coaching practice that also offers services ONLINE. She’s the resident identity guru; from sex to gender to spirituality, she covers it all! Tamara’s specialties include spiritual trauma, LGBGTQ issues, polyamory, and kink. If you’re interested in working with her, please feel free to email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org