We tend to think of finding the right relationship as being a hunt for another person, and it is. But it depends first of all on being ready yourself. The best way to do this is to develop your emotional intelligence skills. It’s all about relationships and emotions, after all.
You could meet the most “right” person in the world, and still not be able to make it work. In fact in some cases, if you’re dragging around the past, you wouldn’t know a good partner for you if they appeared in shining light.
1. Know yourself completely and what you want. 2. Increase your emotional intelligence competencies. 3. Be sure the past is past. 4. Use your emotional intelligence in the early stages of the relationship (and of course thereafter!)
Clients ask me this, and I hear people asking other people when they are about to meet a new man of woman, “But I don’t know how to act.” When you’re meeting someone new, the answer is to just be yourself, but of course this is easier than it sounds! We’re nervous and want to make a good impression, so two parts of emotional intelligence are important: self-awareness, and being able to manage our emotions. When you have developed your emotional intelligence skills, you know who you are, and what you want in all areas of your life, and you know what you are looking for in a partner. You also are better able to manage your emotions (and those of others).
In fact one of the competencies is called “Intentionality.” This means saying what you mean, and meaning what you say, and then doing all you can to make it happen.
Getting to know someone else is always full of surprises, and the older you get, the more “history” you will have to relate to each other. Bear in mind that it is always easiest for us to handle our own “problems” emotionally, than those of others.
You may have endured a bankruptcy or the death of a spouse as part of your life, and to someone else this might sound insurmountable. They may wonder what shape you’re in, emotionally, and what this has “done” to you. For instance, they may know someone who hasn’t coped well with one of these situations, and may be thinking this would apply to you as well.
My mother used to say, “If all our problems were hung on a line (clothes line), you would take yours, and I would take mine.”
So the emotionally intelligent thing is to introduce what we’ll call “new material” slowly.
Of course everyone puts their best foot forward in the early stages of a relationship, and that’s appropriate. But as you increase the intimacy and start getting to know one another more deeply, you will be talking about the battle scars, the things that make you who you are. We all have them! Remember that yours may sound much “bigger” to the other person than they actually are.
Don’t rush into this part of the relationship, telling of all those times you missed the mark, or had things happen to you that altered the course of your life. Begin by showing your wonderful, positive strengths and the qualities that have allowed you to be resilient through the rough seas of life.
Think about someone showing you a house for sale. They wouldn’t start with the repaired foundation and the 15 year old HVAC system. They would begin with the spectacular view, the stunning master suite with the oversized Jacuzzi, the top-of-the-line appliances in the kitchen, and the exceptional landscaping on the acre lot. There will be plenty of time to get to the foundation (along with the warranty papers) and the HVAC system’s age (which can easily be replaced, and you’ve reduced the price of the house to accommodate). But why start with those things? It just isn’t emotionally intelligent.