Looking for Love:
Understanding what you need
By Colette Bouchez
Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson, MD
Are you looking for love but finding disappointment? You may be asking for too much too soon.
Five experts shed some light on what to expect from romance.
Part 1: Understanding What You Need
Part 2: Setting Good Expectations
In the pilot for the ABC television show Desperate Housewives, character Gabrielle Solis (she's
the beautiful ex-model with the gorgeous rich husband, big house, and bottomless bank account) sets the tone for the series
with this simple but poignant statement about her marriage:
"I have everything I wanted -- but I wanted all the wrong things."
More than just a catchy phrase, you don't have to be an unhappy (or
desperate) housewife to get what she means. Indeed, when it comes to choosing a
life partner, experts say too many of us remain clueless about what we really
want and need -- one reason so few of us seem to find it!
"We go round and round, and we date and we date some more and we think, yes!
We have finally found the secret to landing that perfect mate. And still the
divorce rate goes higher and higher," says psychologist Gilda Carle, PhD,
associate professor at Mercy College and author of Don't Bet on the Prince
-- How to Have the Man You Want by Betting on Yourself. Clearly, says Carle,
something is going wrong.
If you've already figured that part out yourself, take
say the key to getting off the dating merry-go-round often requires nothing more
than taking time to get to know yourself before you try to get to know someone
Here are five ways to help you do just that:
- Define your core values.
- Understand your emotional needs.
- Identify your love pattern.
- Test drive a potential relationship.
- Once dating, go in
for a three-month checkup.
1. Define Your Core Values
Understanding your core values is at the heart of truly knowing your needs.
"These are the things about yourself that are not likely
to change. They are the tenets you grew up believing and that deep down inside
still seem to fit into your life no matter what else changes," says JoAnne
White, PhD, a therapist and instructor at Temple University.
Indeed, White tells WebMD that no matter how many qualities you put on your
list of "must haves," nothing matters quite so much as finding someone who
shares your core values. "In the end, they represent who you are and what you
need. They are the deal breakers," says White.
While core values are different for every person, they often touch on such
personal issues as:
- The desire to have children
- Religious beliefs
- How you deal with money
- How you make important decisions
- The importance you place on honesty, integrity,
- Even how you view divorce itself
And while we all have heard that opposites attract -- and experts say they do
-- when it comes to the really big issues in our life, shared values are still
what count the most.
"When it comes to our most important and lasting relationships, it's similar
core values that becomes the glue that cements a couple together," Carle tells
Understand Your Emotional Needs
2. Understand Your Emotional Needs
While core values may form the foundation of who we are, our emotional needs
often define the finer points of our relationships. Psychologist Dennis Sugrue
says we must acknowledge those emotional needs before we can find someone who
can fill them.
"A need for intimacy, for sexual gratification
and satisfaction, a need to be honored and understood and even accepted by our
partner, these are all important aspects of who we are. Each of us has our own
way in which these needs must be met in order to feel happy and secure" says
Sugrue , an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of
Michigan Medical School and
co-author of Sex Matters for Women.
Understanding what fulfillment means to you, he says, is paramount to finding
a partner with whom you can feel satisfied and happy.
The one caveat: Trouble comes when we look for a partner to fulfill us in
ways that, ultimately, we can only fulfill ourselves.
"If you are looking to a partner to make you feel worthwhile, to make you
feel happy, to rescue you from a bored or unhappy life, if you are seeking
someone to make you feel complete or whole -- well then you have some work to
do, because these are needs that are never going to be met by any one other than
yourself," says Sugrue. To put those demands on someone else is to set up
yourself -- and the relationship -- for failure.