8 Secrets for Lasting Love

8 Secrets for Lasting Love

From knowing your worth to being vulnerable, here are eight secrets to lasting love.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." -1 Corinthians 13:4–8a

All living things share a common trait: a deep desire to love and be loved.

For better or worse, divine evolution has hardwired this “love” trait into our DNA over millennia to help incentivize otherwise self-consumed beings to nurture their young, form bonds with neighbors in the tribe, and socialize in ways that foster individual, group and species survival.

But not all “love” is good for us, and for many, “good” love can be hard to find.

I’m a perfect example. Before getting married, my life was like a rerun of Sex & the City. On an endless quest for “love” in the form of Mr. Right, I dated every loser in the book. The nice guy next door was a perfect gentleman, but boring in bed; the jet-setting playboy made my spine tingle, but was a verbally abusive philanderer; the freakishly handsome jock with 6-pack abs and the IQ and emotional maturity of a 12 year-old; the “he’s sooo talented” tortured artist with an incurable drug problem; the brilliantly insecure attorney who begged me to shelf my career ambitions to become his well-manicured, overly educated stay-at-home trophy wife. Each one eventually brought out my worst character defects, at which point my ego drove me to recklessly move on to the next, looking for love in all the wrong places.

On and on this sad game of cat and mouse continued, until I hit rock bottom with a beau who decided the best way to tame me was with a nine millimeter handgun. I survived the incident, but at that exact moment I decided to stop settling for warm bodies and vowed never to date again until I found my soul mate. After what seemed like lifetimes of serial heartbreak and disappointment, I mustered the courage to go after what I’d always wanted but never felt I deserved: a divine, healthy partnership based on mutual love, trust, and spiritual self-realization.

And then I met Michael. The first thing I noticed was not having to try so hard to impress him. Pretending to be cool, invulnerable and perfect didn’t make the other relationships last, so for the first time, I decided to be 100% myself. Strangely, the things past boyfriends criticized me for – being too sensitive, too curvy, too curly and too loud – lit Michael up. He wasn’t threatened by my ambition, but was strong enough to check my integrity whenever I didn’t walk my talk. He was my equal, and in many ways, helped me become more of my best self.

If you’re looking to find your soul mate or want to experience deeper intimacy in your marriage, family, friendships or even with colleagues at work, try these 8 tips to help you move on from Mr./Ms. Wrong and manifest the love you truly deserve.

1. Have a Clear Vision. Whether it’s a better working relationship with your boss, more authenticity between you and your BFF, or more romance in your marriage, it’s hard to manifest what you want without a clear vision. Before meeting Michael, I wrote a list affirming all the attributes I wanted in a mate – and those I brought to the table - and slept with it under my pillow for two months. He did the same. A short time later, we literally bumped into each other at a gay party in West Hollywood, literally the last place I thought I'd meet my soul mate. We’ve been together now for 12 years and married for 10.

2. Know Your Worth. Many seek relationships with others as a proxy for self-acceptance, which puts way too much pressure on a partner to validate your worth as a human being. No one else can do that for you: only you can do it for yourself. If this is a foreign concept, start with a gratitude journal and write ten things you're grateful for about yourself each day. Extra credit: count inner, not outer qualities (e.g., being honest or loving vs. having great legs). Over time, this unconditional value of yourself will help you experience more value in your relationships.

3. Be Vulnerable. We all want more love, right? But it's impossible to fully give or receive love unless you have an open heart. Unfortunately, self-loathing, social conditioning, past hurts, pride and even improper posture can lead us to feel that it is safer to close our hearts in order to avoid potential pain or rejection than to open ourselves up to love. This can block our fourth, or "anahata" chakra (sanskrit translation: "unstuck, unhurt, or unbeaten"), the subtle energy field corresponding to the heart, causing us to feel disconnected from our truest selves, uncompassionate, unloving, or simply unlovable. Through holistic therapies like meditation, yoga, detoxing or even a spiritual counselor, you can release stuck emotions and open your consciousness to deeper levels of compassion and healing. This will allow you to become a greater magnet for love in all your relationships.

4. Be the Person You Wish to Find. According to the law of attraction, everyone we attract into our experience is a mirror for ourselves. So if you’re looking for a prince or princess charming but often find yourself acting the frog, I recommend reading Be The Person You Want to Find. In it, Zen Monk Cheri Huber offers a spiritual perspective on healing childhood wounds and learned destructive patterns that can cause relationship dysfunction in adulthood. In it, she advises that we take 100% accountability for mirroring positive qualities we want in a mate to attract healthy partnerships. This was the hardest part about writing my soul mate “wish list”: working on those hidden parts of myself that had been broken or damaged in past relationships. I had to face that fact that no one else would “complete” me: I had to become a whole, healthy person to attract a whole, healthy relationship.

5. Don't Settle. Once you’ve established your worth and set a vision of what you want in a relationship (and what you’re willing to sacrifice to make it work), be intentional. Say NO to anything or anyone that’s not an absolute YES. This may mean you have to spend some Friday nights (or heaven forbid, Valentine’s Day, your birthday or a holiday) alone with a box of chocolate truffles, but it’s better than spending a single second (or worse, a lifetime!) with anyone who doesn’t qualify as a partner. The Universe abhors a vacuum, and if you always have a “warm body” filling your bed there's no room for a soul mate.

6. Trust Your Instincts. By my second date with Michael, I sensed a strange, but certain feeling in my gut that the relationship was special and he was "the one" for me. Because he came in an unexpected package (a different race, from a different part of the country) and behaved differently from anyone else I had ever dated, it took me awhile to trust this inner voice. We are all born with intuition, the inner guidance that tells us exactly what we need to know at precisely the time we need to know it. The problem is, many of us don't listen. Sometimes, we can't hear it because it gets drowned out by the lies we tell ourselves or have accepted from others, or because it's been ignored so long that we can no longer recognize it. Take time each day to honor your intuition by listening to calming music, meditating in silence or chanting in stillness; your inner voice will gently guide you toward those who are worthy of your love and away from those who are not.

7. Cultivate a Spiritual Connection. It's exciting to be physically compatible with a partner, but mind-blowing sex or financial security without a deeper connection isn't enough to keep a relationship satisfying over the long term. Moreover, exchanging sexual energy with another too early can create a premature "soul contract" with that person - clouding perspective on whether they're a compatible match on multiple levels. Just think of all of the hot Hollywood marriages that end up in divorce! Consider becoming best friends first: spend time together doing things you both love that don't revolve around sex, like hiking, dancing, reading or watching movies. By building intimacy based on honesty, unconditional love and a mutual commitment to lifelong personal growth and transformation, your relationship will have a spiritual foundation. This kind of divine connection transcends ego-based bonds, and will be strong enough to sustain the ups and downs of a bad economy or sagging body parts.

8. Take 100% Responsibility for Your Happiness. After Michael and I got married, I thought the hard work was over. After all, I'd found my soul mate! The truth was, it was just beginning. Despite popular belief, I learned pretty quickly that no other human being could "make" me happy. I had to do that all by myself. First, I had to overcome the desire to blame my husband any time I was unhappy and dedicate more alone time for rigorous self-care. For me, that means daily meditation and yoga, eating healthy, journaling, and a nurturing hot bath. You too can create your happiness. Pursue your unique talents and passions. Enjoy the journey. Take regular inventory of your emotional triggers and projections. Realize no one else can complete you. You're not perfect and neither is your partner. Teach loved ones how to treat you by setting healthy boundaries. Communicate honestly and ask for what you want without attachment. Most of all, be willing to be the change. The love will follow.

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