When I was a little girl, I used to look up at the sky and pray. I’d been taught that God answers prayers and so I prayed (my parents are both ordained ministers). I prayed a lot, but one prayer I prayed more than anything else.

Please God, send me someone I can be with forever. I don’t want to be alone. I’ll do anything you ask, just send me a life partner. Thank you.

It may seem strange for a little girl to pray this, but I felt very alone. As I became a teenager, I continued this prayer because the loneliness grew. It didn’t matter how many friends I had, I never felt like I was accepted. I didn’t feel like anyone I knew could accept me. I felt like there was always a barrier between me and others (you read more about my story here).

I didn’t know that part of my issue was life experience. I needed more. I needed to know more about the world and myself. I was so attached to this idea that another person would complete me that I didn’t even consider the other things I needed to do for myself.

Now that I’m older, I realize I hadn’t accepted or developed myself. Once I did that, my whole perspective shifted, but I had to counter a lot of cultural programming to make that happen.

A Story Problem

It’s not a surprise that I wanted a partner when I’d been watching animated pop culture depictions of fairy tales where all problems resolve when you meet your princess or prince. The boy and girl fall in love at first sight, get married the next day (or week), and live happily ever after.

Since I had a steady diet of these stories, I thought romantic love was that intense first sight kind of thing. I didn’t realize love happened in other ways, and that the only lasting love, is very different.

Lasting love isn’t exciting. It’s not the thing people flock to see in movies. Most people want to see infatuation or first loves. The thrill of infatuation is addictive- that’s the buzzing wild first love feeling that makes your legs weak and causes stomach butterflies.

Lasting love is a slow burn. It bubbles, but it never froths. It simmers, reducing to the sweetest secret sauce there is. This comes on gradually. It takes time. It’s the kind of thing discovered in a friend sitting across the table. Suddenly, realization strikes: I can’t be without this person.

I also didn’t realize that happily ever after is just the honeymoon period, after which, real life happens. Real life is a lot more complicated with another person than it is alone. It may or may not be happy. There’s a lot more involved in making life happy than finding a good life partner.

A person cannot be happy with another until they’re happy with the self.

Challenging the Story

Since I’ve been writing responses on Quora, I’ve noticed this trend in thinking, especially with my requested answers: Why do I feel like no one will love me?

It saddens my heart to read these things, because the answer is the same: Work on yourself. Love yourself. After that, loving another comes easily.

But what’s the process for this? How does a person get out of this feeling? When someone’s been fed a steady diet of disempowering story, a person can feel pretty helpless and hopeless.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few things anyone can start today to change their experience immediately. Here’s the process I recommend (these things can benefit anyone at any stage of life):

  1. Recognize happiness is a choice you make and therefore entirely under your control.

  2. Place your bets on you – not someone else. A romantic partner will not fill any holes, or solve your problems.

  3. Spend a few minutes upon waking being grateful for 3 things (aloud or in a journal). Do the same before you sleep at night.

  4. Practice self-forgiveness as mentioned here.

  5. For a self-guided process to loving yourself, claiming your power, and uncovering your purpose, try this journal guide.

  6. Spend a few minutes every day looking straight in the eye in a mirror and say, “I love you. I really love you. [insert name] I really love you.” It sounds cheesy, but after 5 minutes a day, for 7 days, it does wonders.

Try a one, a few, or all of these things. The more you do consistently, the more changes you’ll experience. After a little while, you’ll wake up and realize you had everything you needed all along.

Have you tried any of the above? How did they work for you? Leave a comment below!

Fairy tales are nice (but they're not real!).
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