Did you know that anyone could get the love they want? Yes, they can. To help understand common mistakes people make when trying to get the love they want and how someone can successfully get the love they want, I have interviewed psychologist Dr. Ben Cohen.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a licensed psychologist with offices in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. My specialty is working with couples and individuals regarding relationship concerns, and my primary approach is Imago Relationship Therapy. I also like to integrate what we know from modern brain science, along with various spiritual traditions, to help understand how we can be our best in relationships (using our “new brain”, “Wise Mind). In addition to seeing people privately, I lead Couples’ and Singles’ Workshops, and train therapists in the Imago approach.”
What are common mistakes people make when trying to get the love they want?
“I believe that two things are essential to having a healthy and satisfying relationship. These two things sound opposite, but both are true: First, we have to fully accept each other for who we are; and second, we have to be willing to change! One of the biggest mistakes singles make is expecting that the other will change for you. “I know they have cheated before, but they’ll never do that to me”. Or, “I love them so much, it’s okay if they…don’t want children/drink too much/are angry all the time/(fill in the blank with your favorite!). They will change…”. If you enter into a relationship expecting the other to change, you are bound to be disappointed. So if you are deciding whether someone is right for you, be honest about who they are, and what you require to be happy. Ask yourself: ‘If they never changed at all, is this someone I could be happy with?'”
“At the same time, relationships always challenge us to stretch and grow. Your partner would like you to be more expressive of your feelings, or less expressive of your feelings. They’d like you to be more social, or neater, or more relaxed. (By the way–we always want our partner to be more like us!) While none of us like to be told how we “should” be, our partner’s complaints often carry the blueprint for where we need to grow and change. By meeting their needs, we grow a part of ourselves that is less developed. For example, when my wife complained that I didn’t tell her I loved her enough, it opened the door for me to be more expressive of my feelings. Try this experiment: Write down your partner’s 3 biggest complaints about you. Next, write down what might be true about these things (most complaints carry at least a grain of truth). And finally, write down what might be positive for you about changing these 3 things.”
“If you want your relationship to thrive, be willing to work on it. Instead of insisting: “Accept me as I am”, be willing to ask, “what do you need from me to feel loved and appreciated”. If both of you do this, you will experience a profound sense of love, appreciation, and intimacy.”
“Again, however, efforts at change must be balanced with a radical acceptance of who we are as individuals. I often ask my couples: “What would it be like if you both fully accepted yourselves, and each other?” You may want to ask your partner to sit with you and visualize such a reality together.”
What type of impact do those mistakes have on someone’s overall life?
“Not accepting ourselves and others leads to endless stress, anxiety, and conflict. If we can learn to put away our “shoulds”–both about ourselves, and others–we would all be more relaxed, loving, and joyous. At the same time, we need to take responsibility for the things that we need to work on in ourselves, and continue to grow. So again, a balance between self-acceptance, and “right effort” seems optimal.”
How can someone get the love they want?
“This is a huge topic, but I think a good starting point is this: If you are single: 1) Be honest about who you are, and what you want/need in a relationship. Don’t let romantic love blind you to the things that will not work in the long term. 2) Put yourself out there–you won’t meet the person of your dreams watching TV! 3) Live your best life. You will attract a more healthy, compatible mate if you are living your life to your fullest.”
“If you are already in a relationship: 1) Be willing to say “yes” to change. Listen to what your partner says they need from you. Try to understand why it is important to them, and what the positive challenge/stretch might be for you to meet their needs. Most of all, accept that you and your partner are two different people–and that’s okay! You can accept and love each other fully for who you are, and at the same time, be willing to make changes in your behavior to gift them with your love.”
Thank you Ben for doing the interview on how someone can get the love they want. You can get more information about Ben’s Workshops and other services at www.boulder-imago.com, or call him at 303-717-5651.
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