"I have struggled through a long string of disappointing relationships," a seminar participant recounted. "I was engaged three times, but never made it to the altar. One guy changed his mind. Another wanted an open marriage. Another died…. My track record with men is dismal.
"Six months ago I met a guy I really like. Our connection is awesome-better than any I have ever had. I think we have all the elements of a great relationship, and so does he. But after so many letdowns, meltdowns and breakdowns, I don’t want to get my hopes up. Things are going so well, they seem too good to be true. What do I do now?"
Some people have experienced so much pain, confusion, frustration and loss in relationships that when a wonderful connection comes along, they question it and just wait for the other shoe to drop. But love, harmony and safety in a partnership seem too good to be true only because they defy a familiar pattern to the contrary. The truth is that good relationships are good enough to be true. Through repeated disappointment and observation of poor role models, you may have overdeveloped your propensity to endure misery. Now you need to develop your propensity to endure happiness. Then a good relationship will feel like the most natural experience in the world, and anything less will seem an anomaly.
Here are some tips on how to proceed when a relationship comes along that seems too good to be true:
> Hold your old beliefs about relationships up to the light. Where did you get your ideas about relationships? As a child, did you observe role models of unhappy couples? Have you practiced a limiting belief for so long that it seems real when it is not? Do you have the power to make new and better choices for yourself? When you question the notion that great relationships are supposed to be elusive or hard, you will recognize that you have far more possibilities available to you than you realized.
> Practice loving yourself so much that you become a love magnet. Love attracts love, and when you cultivate love from the inside out, the universe will deliver it from the outside in. Then, when someone perfect shows up, it will seem like the next easy, natural step.
> Proceed as if you deserve the good that has come your way. Thank the universe for sending an answer to your prayer. Accept as much happiness as you can, as if you deserve it. Give yourself credit for your courage to persevere through all the frogs you kissed, which led you to the empowered place where you now stand. Keep letting the love in and giving it out.
> Don’t just sit around watching and waiting for something to go wrong-like discovering her photo in the yellow pages under "Escort Services" or his secret wife and five kids showing up at your doorstep. Why hunt for skeletons? If one jumps out at you, deal with it. Until then, enjoy your partner and all he or she has to offer. Besides, you have more meat on your bones than a skeleton, so in any such confrontation you will prevail.
> If you have an upset or notice a possible red flag, keep it in perspective. Don’t overanalyze or create a drama that sinks the relationship before it gets out of the harbor. As often as I have seen people miss red flags, I have seen others turn minor incidents into excuses to bail. So what if he gets a call from an old girlfriend? If he tells you he is done with her, take him at his word. If you catch him in bed with her, you can kick his butt on the spot. Until then, give him the benefit of the doubt. "Never trouble trouble ’til trouble troubles you."
> Hold the relationship lightly. The tighter you squeeze or try to control, the less clearly you see, and the more you deny your relationship’s natural unfolding. Say to yourself, "If this relationship is good and has substance, it will last and grow in a joyful, healthy way." Love is more about allowing than manipulating. Flow and trust will get you what you want far more effectively than worry and forcing.
> Find and focus on role models of people in the kind of relationship you aspire to. If happy couples are in your field of experience, this means that at least part of you is a match to that kind of relationship. Now all you have to do is pay more attention to what makes a relationship work, and less attention to what undermines it, and you are well on you way.
A great relationship doesn’t just happen to you; it is something you choose. More accurately, it is something you allow. No matter how long your relationships have been difficult or dysfunctional, they can be easier and work. Ease and success are far more natural than struggle, and love is far truer to your nature than loneliness. Don’t accept misery as a fact of life; it has nothing to do with who you really are or what you truly deserve. Why live in a soap opera, when you can star in a great love story?