How to believe in love again
Somewhere along the line we decide we can no longer risk being open to love, and so we put up a big, sometimes unconscious, wall around ourselves, and then expect others to fight their way through it to reach us.
Guess what? Most won’t bother! And it is your job to work through all the reasons why you built this wall instead of a bridge, if you ever hope to feel true love and intimacy again.
Is that easy? No, or you would have done it by now. This will require some serious emotional work on your part. So how much do you want to feel honest, unconditional love for once in this lifetime?
I decided that was my top priority about ten years ago. I worked my way through my natural urge to build walls, and eventually decided I could risk building a few bridges instead. Then I found true love for the first time EVER at age 49.
Want to know how? I share my own thoughts and process in my book How to Believe In Love Again.
Please enjoy this guest post today by Jay Fleming-Smith:
Have you lost the will to believe in love? Maybe you have had a number of bad experiences in your emotional life that made you decide to throw in the towel. Or maybe you had a terrible break-up, a nasty divorce or a long dysfunctional relationship which finally brought you to your knees.
No wonder you currently feel the way you do! After all, you are only human. Sometimes life can knock the wind out of you. That is just what life does to us sometimes.
My first message is as follows: don’t blame yourself, don’t let the circumstances bring you down. Don’t despair! Better things lie ahead of you!
Before we go into solution mode, let’s focus on the potential outcomes of looking at your life. You basically have two choices. The first (and easiest) way of leading your life is to wallow in self-pity, blame yourself and run the risk of getting trapped in the vicious circle of disillusion, which might turn you into a bitter person. That doesn’t sound very appealing now, does it? The second avenue you could take is to get up, get going and tackle life with the same vigour, hope and determination like the rest of the world does.
But let me first get back to the former outcome. It is of absolute importance, before you can believe in love again, to allow yourself to heal. Whatever traumatic emotional experience you had to endure, everyone needs time to mourn, reflect and heal. Depending on your circumstances this period might take a few months to a few years. You will know when your mourning has come to an end. That said, it is important not to let your grief take over for eternity.
Make up your mind that one day you will pick up your life and move forward. It is during this time of transition that it is essential to reflect, analyze (but not to overanalyze) and to be kind to yourself. You are no different from thousands of other people who have gone through a similar experience.
Essentially you are on a journey of reflection and perspective which should slowly lead you to a rekindled form of self-appreciation and self-love! This voyage does come without a bit of work though. Increasing your self-esteem will require some discipline. Good nutrition, regular light physical activity, reconnecting with family and friends and finding your inner peace through meditation are all great ways of getting back on track.
But this is not sufficient! You will also need to make some changes. Don’t worry, we are not talking about dramatic changes; few people have the ability to do this and most people who do change, revert back to their old habits within months. What I mean is to tweak some bad habits, make some small adjustments on a regular basis until they become engrained in your new lifestyle.
Remember that small regular changes can have very large positive consequences but you need to maintain those small changes!
Once you feel you have come to the end of your journey of mourning and that you have tweaked a few bad habits, you should automatically feel better in spirit and body and exude an image of positivism, confidence and optimism. And those around you will notice this!
So now you might think that you are ready to start dating again? Not exactly! What you now need is a new game plan! It is a jungle out there and you cannot afford to get hurt immediately after all the good work you have done! Where to find your significant other? It is relatively straight forward. Avoid bars and clubs like the plague, be extra wary of dating sites (it is very time-consuming and can be soul destroying), and be aware that a holiday romance is most of the time just that.
Instead, you need to get back to basics. Tell all your loved ones, family and friends you are ‘available’ to date. Go to your high school or college reunion, join a book club, play golf or tennis, in short get out there and go where like-minded people or people of a similar age like yourself tend to socialize.
Finally, be realistic as to what you want to achieve, set your expectations low but be disciplined, focused and optimistic. And very importantly, don’t be discouraged by any setbacks that might come your way. We all need a little bit of luck in finding our significant other, but it is only by being social and cheerful that we will meet, attract and find that new found love that you so deserve. In love no one escapes and neither will you!
Jay Fleming-Smith is the author of Fix Your Relationship in ONE Minute
While everyone else seemed to be having get-togethers with friends and family, I often sat alone wondering what’s the matter with me. Why does everyone else have someone to be with on holidays but me?
It was feelings like this that made me want to believe in love again, because holidays seem to be made for families. In fact, holidays helped me decide that my life wasn’t working like I wanted it to. I was still quite clear and happy about my decision to not have kids, but I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere in this world, in some sort of family. This required a new commitment on my part.
So I set about figuring out how I had lost my faith in love as a good thing in life. All roads led back to my first serious love affair in my early twenties. I applied myself to that relationship like none before and after, and all I got was pain and heartbreak, so why believe?
My first step in changing my mind about love was to realize exactly how different I was at age 24 compared to 49. I had learned so much about myself and love since I made so many mistakes and misjudgments in my past. And, more importantly, I loved myself now. I would not be taking anymore crap from anybody!
These types of realistic reassessments helped me see my future in much more positive terms, so much so that soon after that I met the perfect partner for me!
Sure it was a little more complicated than that, and my book How To Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust and Your Own Inner Wisdom, summarizes the many steps I had to take to turn my world around. My point is, you can change your mind, your priorities, and then change your life.
Now that I have a very small but loving family, I appreciate them every day, including holidays!
Here we have the crux of the matter! I’m afraid most of us don’t even think we can change, but I’m here to tell you it is completely possible to change your mind and then change your life. I have done it a number of times.
For most of us, things have to get pretty BAD before we will even consider finding the energy or outside resources to change our lives. Most of us would rather blame anyone or anything else than ourselves for the mess we have made of our lives.
I know I had to hit a brick wall before I started changing everything. When you do hit that wall that tells you your life is so not working, find the time to sit alone for hours, days and even months thinking about what’s next.
I was 49 when my crisis hit, and so I focused on what I needed to have happen before I died. I spent my time challenging all of my previous beliefs about why I was here. I found very little meaning in what I had accomplished thus far, and so made a solemn commitment to doing everything in a different way.
First I prioritized what I wanted most in my life. My first priority was to find ways to believe in love again. I started my own dating service and met face-to-face with hundreds of other disillusioned midlife singles. We discussed ways we could begin again to believe that love was a good thing, after various versions of destructive divorces.
Through following my intuition and inner wisdom, I eventually met my true love and soul mate, whose love and loyalty was absolute. He believed in me enough to provide me with the financial and emotional support I needed to then change careers. I went from academic librarian to writer, author, and midlife psychology specialist around age 50.
Don’t sit around making more excuses! Decide what you need to happen now and start with small steps today!
Self-love, self-acceptance and self-respect are where all love comes from. Until we love and respect ourselves, we are not yet ready to give, receive or accept love from others.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to test your present level of self-love and self-respect:
Are you willing to accept there is much more to you than how you see yourself now? Who are you without your story, and without harsh self-judgment?
Can you accept that there is really nothing wrong with you right now?
Can you see yourself as whole and beautiful? Meditate on that thought.
Can you accept that you are exactly what you seek in others?
If you stopped finding fault in yourself, would your life improve?
Can you accept that perhaps the thing you are missing in your life may be your authentic self? What would it take to let the “real” you come out to play?
At what times do you feel most like the “real” you?
Ask and answer this question just for yourself: One way I could be even more authentic right now is ___________________________.
Show me the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful that is!
“In 100 pages, with an intriguing bibliography, this is a quick but comprehensive overview of our generation at this moment in the 21st century. Carter’s telling is at once realistic and optimistic—and her own story is living proof.
‘Why did I write this book?’ she asks in the prologue of this new book, and then answers with a quote from Joan Baez, a troubadour for our generation:
‘Action is the greatest antidote to despair.’
Carter never looks at our generation through rosy glasses. Her even-handed reporting and clear and compassionate writing help me understand the challenges and opportunities we all face. Thank you.” – Carrie Tuhy
Find Your Reason to Be Here: The Search For Meaning in Midlife is where I share what I have learned from years of research into the psychological legacy of boomers, where the idea of ‘midlife’ came from, and how boomers can make the most of this unique new stage of emotional development.
Here I summarize most of what I have learned in studying the experience of midlife from the inside out. I explain what happens to our hearts and minds in combination with being raised in the time of the boomers, and then show how to combat emotional challenges, find love again, and succeed in becoming your best self in spite of the many factors which may work against you.
Abundance is how we live in each moment — the choice to be open, the choice to entertain the possibility that we can have, create, and attract what we truly want.
Most of us start out believing that love can transform our lonely existence into something better. When that doesn’t work out as hoped for or planned, do we dare dream again? I say YES!
As the years go by, most of us slowly realize that love is what matters most. Love is what we all seek. The experience of love is vital to healing and wholeness. In a world filled with sadness, misunderstandings, and unfairness, love is our chance to feel a little less alone.
No one can buy that marvelous feeling of unconditional acceptance, loyalty, trust and caring. Rich or poor, we have to find it for ourselves. Most go in search of romantic love with one gigantic, unacknowledged obstacle standing squarely in their way, difficult memories of past loves that went horribly wrong. Most know all too well that love can be cruel.
How do you get past early disillusioning experiences that stand solidly in your path to ever believing in love again? How do you get to the point where you can fully acknowledge past negative or destructive relationships, thank them for all they have taught you, and then feel certain you have removed their power over your future?
How do we find the courage to open to love again, when our mind is filled with memories of a painful past?
These are the answers I had to find for myself when I lost my way ten years ago. I so wanted to still believe in love, but I realized my past experiences threatened that belief. I really had no reason to believe, and if I didn’t, what was the point of going in search of love again?
We must each find the faith inside that love and abundance is still out there and will transform our lives, before it can ever happen. That is what I learned through my own experiences, and what I share in my book How To Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust and Your Own Inner Wisdom.
Nerves are often the biggest contributor to awkward first dates and can inspire a range of dating faux pas. With this in mind, here is a look at some of the worst conversations for any first date, and some tips on how to avoid them.
Managing your nerves
We all know first date jitters are completely normal and those pesky butterflies are a sign of adrenaline in your system. Nevertheless, they can make you feel a bit like a teenager all over again. It’s important to try and keep these feeling in check, and give yourself the best chance of making a great first impression. This is especially important if you’re meeting in person for the first time after meeting on a site like eHarmony Australia.
When preparing for the date, leave plenty of time to get ready and plan an outfit in advance. This will avoid a rush and help you to walk in feeling confident about your presentation.
When meeting your date for the first time, make a point of smiling warmly when you greet them. If you’re nervous, why not make a joke about it? This will help to break the ice, because chances are they are feeling just as anxious.
Finally, make sure you choose a date location where you’ll really feel at home. If you’re planning on enjoying a meal together, skip loud or formal restaurants and opt for a comfortable, laid back café.
Talking about the ex
If the nerves have set in and there’s a pause in conversation, it’s easy to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Sadly that’s not always the best first date topic.
Your ex-partner is a conversation you should always avoid. By bringing them up it gives the impression that you haven’t moved on and aren’t ready to commit to a new relationship. If your date asks about your relationship past, just respond with the bare facts, such as we divorced 6 years ago. It’s far too early to mention the cause, the emotional pain or any other intimate details.
For a comfortable first date it’s always best to avoid heavy, controversial and awkward topics. If you’re unsure what that might include, think anything on the lines of politics, religion, the death penalty, assisted suicide or your sexual history.
Past dates are another topic to avoid – unless of course you want to share a funny anecdote about a dating disaster. If you’re really passionate about a hobby or a sport, then it’s fine to bring it up, within moderation. But be sure to make it an engaging two-way dialogue and ask your date what they think, rather then lecturing them with your knowledge.
Good tips for date conversations
Do your best to keep the conversation on pleasant and neutral ground, with topics like your date’s career, hobbies, family and friends. If they ask you a question, always ask them their opinion in return.
Before you arrive, it helps to read your date’s personal profile carefully to find out things like their taste in films and books as well as what their hobbies are. Dating websites are great as they cater to a variety of different people. If you are looking for your own perfect match then online dating could be the option for you, no matter what your age!
Finally, always use your positive body language to show interest in what your date has to say.
This blog post was written on behalf of E-Harmony Australia, and I did receive payment for this post.