During the past 35 years as a practicing psychotherapist and sex therapist, I have had the privilege of treating men and women of all ages and stages in life and from every socioeconomic group. In recent years my clientele has consisted primarily of highly educated men and women who have found success in all facts of their lives except their love lives. Many of my patients are household names. They are people that we hear about, read about and see on television. They have money, fame and professional success. But when it comes to their personal relationships, love continues to elude them.
By the time they contact me many are finally ready to figure out once and for all what the real issues are that have prevented them from finding lasting love. And more importantly, they are willing to acknowledge, address and RESOLVE these issues- whatever they may be. The process is not easy. It forces people to be introspective and honest with themselves-perhaps for the first time in their lives. It's always easy to blame our relationship disappointments on others. It takes a special person with a high level of emotional maturity and motivation who is willing to take her/his blinders off, face the past failures honestly and learn the ABC's of healthy love.
Women spend months, even years, fantasizing about love. Yet blinded by what we think is true love, we frequently marry or commit to someone who we don't really know. Think back to how many times you thought you knew everything there was to know about your partner. You believed that the person you were in love with was exactly who he seemed to be. Then suddenly, without warning-disaster. Your relationship was in shambles. Your mind was spinning. What went wrong? Chances are the signs were there all along but you just didn't know what to look for.
Over the years, I have discovered that relationship success is dependent on four variables:
1. If each person is not in a good place emotionally and psychologically, it is not possible to have a healthy relationship with anyone. For example, if you or your partner have untreated clinical depression or bipolar disorder or other psychiatric problems or have a substance abuse issue or are haunted by "skeletons in the closet" such as early child sexual abuse or verbal, physical or emotional abuse, you will need to successfully deal with these issues first, understanding of course, that we can't change history. And unless you emotionally deal with these problems, they will prevent you from finding, maintaining and sustaining healthy love. My patients are my heroes. Many have finally acknowledged that unless they do this kind of intensive therapeutic work, their cycle of disappointment in love will probably continue.
2. The majority of people have simply not learned the key ingredients that go into a healthy, long-lasting relationship and are therefore, ill-prepared and ill-equipped to determine whether a relationship is healthy or not. And how could they? Where do we learn about healthy relationships? And who are our healthy role models? They certainly can not be found on the dysfunctional reality shows we see on television! People need to be willing to do their due diligence and educate themselves about what a healthy relationship is and is not.
3. We spend more time evaluating and assessing which car, computer, cellphone or cream to buy than we do the person who we're dating. People need to be willing to learn how to honestly and accurately assess who's right or wrong for you. In my book, For Better, For Worse, Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, I describe my 10-step, fail-safe formula, already successfully used by thousands of men and women around the world. My formula educates, empowers and keeps you safe. It's not romantic. However, it will change the way that you look at relationships forever. It may even save your life!
4. We may believe we have found our perfect match. The stars have lined up. However, both people must be willing to develop and hone their emotional communication and problem-solving skills. It is precisely these skills that will ultimately make or break your relationship.
And finally, we must remind ourselves that the perfect person does not exist and that we all have to make certain compromises and trade-offs. However, there are certain deal-breakers that must never be tolerated or accepted under any circumstances at all including abuse of any kind, poor or non-existent communication and problem-solving skills and sexual incompatibility.
I am looking forward to our journey together.