How Do I Find True LOVE?

Often, people think that they have to learn how to master love when they’re already in a relationship.

In reality, who you are before you ever fall in love says much more about how your relationship will work out. You might be surprised to learn that most of the work of creating true love in your life is actually done before you ever meet “the one.”

I have watched my clients and friends (and, not to mention, myself) find true love, and there are a few common themes in what comes beforehand.

Here are eight things you must master before you can invite real love into your life:

1. Don’t focus on finding a partner. Focus on building a great relationship with yourself.

If you want anything in life to work out, you must have a trusting and loving relationship with yourself first. This is the primary focus in my life coaching work, because a positive self-image truly paves to road for any happiness, opportunity, and lasting joy in life.

Check in with yourself: how do you treat yourself? How do you speak to yourself? How do you hold yourself back and why?

2. Replace anxiety with faith.

People who have found real love, didn’t get permanently caught up in anxiety, believing they will never find love. Rather, they remember to trust in divine timing. Negative, fearful thoughts only increase anxiety and an anxious mind never speaks nicely to the self.

Your thoughts create your reality, so by thinking negatively you’re essentially manifesting what you don’t want. Train yourself to think positively, expecting the good.

3. Believe (and really believe) that you deserve to be loved.

This is a frequent underlying (often unconscious) limiting belief that many of my clients carry with them: fear of not being good enough and not being love-worthy. It’s the number one way in which many people sabotage themselves and their quest for love.

If you don’t believe you’re love-worthy, why would anyone else think that you are? You have to shed this limiting belief and stop sabotaging yourself with your thoughts about yourself if you want to find true love.

4. Learn to receive the love that is offered to you.

It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but receiving is a much more vulnerable act of showing yourself to another person than giving. You are basically telling another person, “You make me happy,” which is both a very empowering statement to make and one that makes you feel vulnerable.

The question is: can you show gratitude and pleasure to other people openly and without feeling ashamed or guilty?

5. Let go of your checklist of must-haves for your ideal partner.

While it’s good to know what you like and don’t like, you also don’t want to narrow your worldview and create stubborn tunnel vision. Must-have lists are formulated from a head space, but the head isn’t what falls in love or has compassion during inevitable tough times.

Often, the qualities you will most appreciate and honor in your partner are the ones you didn’t even know you needed. Loosen up and trust that life will send you the love of your life!

6. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Are you interpreting every ever-so-slightly confusing signal you get from a potential mate as an offense to you and a red flag or a sign that they aren’t trustworthy after all? Or are you able to stop yourself from over-analyzing everything and believe that the person you have met has their heart in the right place?

Believing in the good of another person, even if you have been disappointed, will make your life much more free and joyful. Don’t let past experiences determine your future.

7. Become an effective and honest communicator.

You cannot selectively be a good communicator with some people and a terrible communicator with others. You are either someone who has the integrity and the courage to be heard and speak their mind honestly, or you are hanging on to a tendency to suppress, avoid, or silence communication.

The good news is that communication patterns can be worked on and improved pretty much every second of your waking life. Ask yourself, “Am I honest and sincere with myself? Am I expressing myself in full integrity to what I truly think and feel?”

8. Look for good role models.

Role models matter greatly, because we learn from observing others starting the moment we were born. Even if you parents weren’t in the greatest marriage, you can look to other relationships that you admire and pick out the attributes you like the most.

When observing couples you respect try and identify exactly how the couples supports each other. How do they speak to one another? How do they show each other love? By asking these questions, you are essentially increasing your awareness for the kind of relationships that do work, rather than having a running list of things you don’t want in your own love life.

In the comments I’d love to hear from you: what can you do and improve upon now that will help make your future relationship bloom freely? I’ve seen hundreds of people work on themselves, change their expectations, and learn to embrace who they are. I know you can do this too!

Take the first step today!

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Developing Your LOVE Muscles = Quality LOVE

When it comes to finding long-lasting love, people are looking for someone they can spend the rest of their life with — or at least the foreseeable future.

When two people first meet it’s all about chemistry and passion. You don’t question if they have a savings account or a good relationship with their family — it’s all about initial attraction. However, if you’re looking for a life partner or are in the midst of a long-term relationship, this attraction, while important, may wane in comparison to a person’s bigger qualities and traits. When it comes to finding long-lasting love, people are looking for someone they can spend the rest of their life with — or at least the foreseeable future. With this outlook, a different set of qualities matter. These are some of the qualities and traits that can make you a more desirable partner.

1. You’re quick to move on

This is a big one. Fights will happen and when they do, it’s important to be quick to apologize and quick to forgive. If you always point the finger of blame and never take responsibility for your mistakes, your fights will drag on, leading to an unhappy partner. Likewise, if after every disagreement you spend hours being angry or pouty, even after apologies have been said, you’ll exhaust the relationship and the fight will only grow in size. Make an effort to apologize quickly and forgive easily. These two qualities will do wonders for a relationship.

It can be tempting to throw yourself into a relationship and lose yourself. Unfortunately when you do, you’ll lose the individuality and confidence that may have attracted your partner to you in the first place. Give your significant other plenty of love, but always love yourself first. Nurture your passions — even if your partner has no interest in them — and spend time alone.

3. You’re honest

If trust is the foundation in a relationship then honesty is the trait that builds that trust. Being honest with your partner on all things allows them to be honest and vulnerable with you. Very little is more detrimental to a close relationship than dishonesty and deception. When you enter into a new relationship start with complete honesty and maintain that level of truth throughout your partnership. A commitment to honesty, from both people, will make for a longer-lasting, happier relationship.

Finding Your Ho, Ho, Ho this Holiday, When You’re Single

Happy Holidays, Fellow Single Folks!

Ho, ho, ho …. you’re alone!!! Do you ever feel like the holidays put a great, big, exclamation point on the sad fact that you currently aren’t with anyone? Does all that mistletoe, tinsel, and Christmas cheer make you feel all kinds of lonely? Yeah. Me too. Whether you are divorced, single, nursing a broken heart, or even widowed, like me – the holiday season can really do a number on your ability to feel joy. In fact, it can be downright depressing.

But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, singing Christmas carols and harmonizing by yourself, or making a gingerbread house for one, doesn’t sound like loads of fun – but there are ways that you can turn the holidays from a time of “woe is me” to a time of something special and meaningful. And perhaps even have some fun and do something a bit different in the process. Really. All it takes is thinking a bit outside the box. Here are a few ways to have a purposeful, meaningful, joyful holiday – while being single:

Get Outside: 

Maybe in past years, you have done the same tired thing, over and over and over again. Perhaps its time to change it up, do something new. If you’re single, guess what? You don’t have to answer to anyone, so if you feel like spending Christmas week in a casino, seeing a Broadway show, or on a beach in Florida, who says you can’t? Sure, you’ll still be alone and single, but suddenly that doesn’t seem so awful with a coconut rum drink in your hand while floating along in a pool. Also, when you do something completely different and new with your holiday, think of all the stories you’ll have for the rest of your friends and family. They might even end up being jealous, and that’s always fun.

Start New Traditions:

So you watch “A Christmas Story” on a loop, every Christmas Eve, every single year, for your entire life. That doesn’t mean you have to keep doing that until the end of time. If you want to do that, then great. But sometimes all it takes to feel new joy is a little bit of change. If you normally have hot cocoa with marshmallows, be a rebel and switch to whipped cream! Perhaps you could even gather together with other single friends, and together, create a lovely holiday dinner or evening, complete with your own brand new traditions. The good thing about new traditions, is that they feel very personal, because YOU created them. And now, you already have something to look forward to next year!

Help Out:

It is very easy to get caught up in all the ways that your own life kind of sucks during the holidays. One good way to help take the focus off of that for awhile, is to find ways to give to other people whose lives probably suck a lot more than yours does.The Thanksgiving after my husband’s death, I volunteered at a women’s shelter serving food for the holiday. The people there were so nice and so appreciative of everything, it took my mind off my own stuff for awhile, and it also helped me to engage in something that was far outside my own life circle. I actually had fun, and ended up doing more things like that going forward.

Be a Kid, Play with Kids:

Just because you’re officially an adult, that doesn’t mean you have to be serious all the time. Children love the holidays, because they get to be kids and just have fun! Who says you can’t do the same? If you have kids in your family, play with them. Build a snowman together. Build a fort. Make Christmas cookies. Make silly videos on Instagram and make each other laugh. If there are no kids in your life (I have a niece and nephew, so it’s always fun to be silly with them), bring back the kid in YOU, and have some fun this time of year. Go sledding, or snowmobiling. If you’re in a warm climate place, take a swim or a stroll.

Whatever you decide to do this holiday season, being single isn’t the end of the world. Yes, it can be sad and it can certainly be frustrating when everyone around you seems to be part of a couple. But, if you can focus on the celebration of love in all it’s forms – the holidays will start to become much more enjoyable.

So Happy Holidays, Fellow Single Folks! Here’s a toast to you, in all your awesomeness!

A True Love Confession About Learning Love

I have a confession, a true love confession, I want you to know that I’m learning these lessons along the way with you. I’m not a love guru, my lessons are not the answers, they’re just what’s worked for me and has helped open my life up to receiving love.

I’m also actively applying these lessons to my own relationship. I hope that you’re able to apply these lessons to your relationships, and please let me know what’s working for you, what’s not, and if there’s anything you’re seeking in love that I haven’t talked about yet. Let’s learn and love together!

Tune in next time, for more True Love Lessons, and confessions, with Sierra!


10 First Tender Dates: It’s a Swipe Left — Swipe Right World

When I set out to do the interviews for “We met on Tinder,” I assumed I had a few questions that needed answering. However, spoiler alert: I left the swipe world with more questions than answers.

But I’ll have to go into that another time. At the root of everything was the question of experiences: the way we all date, what we are looking for and how we go about doing it. Maybe it was all just about hookups.

If you haven’t read “Swipe 1” you can do it here.

Swipe 2 was a guy named Matt. We recounted our dating experiences. He told me about a girl he hooked up with in Santa Cruz and his experience with the dating scene in Los Angeles. What I liked most about Matt was the ease of talking with him. It felt less like an interview and more like a date, which was not what I thought would happen. In the dates that followed, I had a new question to access.

How much of this was a date? How much was just an interview? Could I end up falling for one of these guys? What do I do if I fall for someone?

This show became something else. It became about answering questions myself. While I had the interviews set up for the guys I choose to question, I also had to discover things on my own. And if I were to fall for someone, what would that mean for the show and the way I made it?

This is when “We met on Tinder” began to shift for me and become about something more complicated than just a girl going on ten Tinder dates in one month. It became about what I was willing to explore in this swipe left, swipe right world. It became about what Tinder meant for me as a twenty something trying to find love.

You can listen to the full show below. And don’t forget, if you’re searching for a way to maximize your dating successes, you can join LOVE TV today!

When Finding “The One” is Nothing More Than Just a Numbers Game

When people want something (a job, a house, a change of scenery), the advice is always the same: “work hard and go get it.” But what about love?

When we want to find love, we’re told to follow an all together different approach: “wait and it will find you.”

In my experience, that’s a bunch of nonsense.

When I was in my early 20s I moved back to NYC after a year of working abroad. I found a reliable job doing something I loved and an apartment that I could afford. Everything was falling into place and I was ready for a relationship that matched where my life was; I wanted something serious. If you’re in the same boat, don’t forget to check out the LOVE TV membership.

I decided it was time to find “the one.”

So I started to look. By my calculations, there were about 8 million people in the city. Since raising kids outside of New York was a non-starter, I could keep my search local. Once I accounted for my gender preference (male), my native language (English) and my desired age range (20-30), I figured there couldn’t be more then 2, maybe 3 million men that fit the bill.

Those were numbers I could work with. After all, I was still pretty young.

To me, love is not serendipitous, it’s something we can seek out with intention. By meeting more men, I felt I could increase the odds of finding the right one for me. He was out there somewhere, I just had to comb through my options until I found him.

Everyone gets a number!

young couple dating

I started the easiest way possible, by giving out my phone number. Everyone who asked, regardless of my initial attraction level, would get a chance.

Walking into a bar was like stepping into Oprah’s shoes. Instead of giving out cars, I was giving out digits. “You get a number! And you get a number!” I remained as open minded as possible, unless someone reeked of out-right danger, they got a follow up.

Even with that, the process moved slowly. I felt as thought I’d put my resume up on a job recruitment site without a cover letter – sure, I was getting a lot of calls, but no one knew what I was really looking for.

So I flipped the script. Instead of me giving my number to men who asked, I started approaching men myself. If this was a numbers game, I figured I’d meet more people if the effort was coming from both sides. I also had more control over who I approached, which felt more targeted.

Because I was the one initiating the conversations, I’d choose locations I loved (the bookstore, a coffee shop, a museum during free nights) and strike up conversations with anyone I found even mildly appealing. I figured we already had something in common based on the location, so I was already a step ahead.

Online dating

online dating

A month or two later I’d been on a lot of dates, but the process felt inefficient. The men I met were nice, but they weren’t necessarily looking for something serious. So I started to explore online dating. I wanted to put my exact requirements out there so I could weed out anyone who wasn’t interested.

I found a website that was mostly text based, rather than just a profile picture with text boxes – Tinder wasn’t going to cut it for finding a soul mate. I’m a writer, and as a writer, I wanted to express myself and my relationship goals. To me, a well worded profile is more effective at introducing two people than a coffee date.

So I sat down and crafted a call for submissions, so to speak. Titled “Not a psycho killer or a scary stalker. Yay!!” I explained what I was looking for: someone who wanted to find their forever partner, who was passionate about what they did in life and would have patience with my long office hours (which I intended on keeping).

I didn’t put a picture. I didn’t describe my looks. This wasn’t about physical attraction, this was about finding my match.

After it went live, I refreshed my inbox to find at least a dozen replies. They just kept coming over the next day or so.

Anyone who wrote more than three sentences got an answer. Anyone who replied with several paragraphs got a date.

One of the first men I met was my age, which made him stand out considering everyone else was at least three years my senior. He had long black hair like Severus Snape and a face that made him look fifteen.

That being said, the date was perfect.

He took me on a historic tour of Chinatown pointing out underground gambling rings and discussing the history of human trafficking. Before meeting up, he’d googled me and read years of blog posts about my travels abroad, learning the things I cared most about. Then we wandered to one of the original pizzerias in NYC, his favorite when he ranked them for a college paper on the subject. He was odd and interesting and I spent the whole date laughing.

NYC dating

As the night was winding down, I asked him where he lived. The answer blew the whole date to bits. He still lived at home. For someone whose main identity revolved around independence, it was a no-go for me.

When we parted ways, he gave me a hug and asked to see me again. I politely let him know that that probably wouldn’t happen.

The next day I continued with the dates, but I found myself comparing other people to that first guy. I texted him despite the standing rejection that I’d issued.

Two weeks later, during a particularly emotional evening, I called him on a whim. He showed up 45 minutes later, the exact time it took to get from his parents house to my apartment.

And in that moment, I let the fate-driven part of love take over. I’d done my job, I searched the entire city for the right person. It turned out that person lived at home deep in Brooklyn, but despite that, he was better than anything I could have hoped for.

Since then he’s cut his Snape-like hair so the world can see his beautiful eyes and at nearly 30, his face looks just as boyish as it did ten years ago. He stands by me through all of my crazy whims and understands that “settled” often means “let’s take our newborn baby to Thailand just because.”

His weird fits mine in a way I never anticipated, and it only took about a thousand dates to find him.

From My First Date to My Last and Everything in Between: What I learned in 15 years of dating

From 13 to 28-years-old, I’ve had 15 years of dating. So, here’s what it has taught me.

My first date ever happened when I was 13 years old. It was a double date to see She’s All That and I remember I was so nervous. Fifteen years later, I had what I hope will be my last first date ever.

Here is my journey of dating, and the lessons I learned and don’t forget that we’re here at LOVE TV to help you to sort through the dating world. Join today

She’s All That, 1999

dating life

As soon as I saw the preview for She’s All That, I knew I had to see it. I identified with Rachael Leigh Cook’s nerdy Laney Boggs and the awesome ‘90s soundtrack (hello “Kiss Me”) had me sold.

I called my best friend at the time and we soon orchestrated a double date with two guys we were into. She had turned 14 in December and I was still 13 for another six months.

I remember being so nervous calling the boys to organize the outing and freaking out teenage girl style when they said yes. We were too anxious to order food but we did have slushies and in typical eighth grader fashion, we didn’t even hold hands. We laughed through the movie and I felt myself blushing when I’d accidentally brush my guy’s hand.

When the movie was over, I remember feeling such a relief that it was done. I was happy that my first date was over and I managed to make it a double date at that. It’s fun to think about the shared experience the four of us had that winter in 1999. Firsts are always hard, but when they turn out as fun as this date did, it made me excited for my romantic future.

Prom, 2003

Dating life

Four years later, when prom time came around, I was no longer wishing for romantic dates just like the movies. I went to an all-girls high school which I absolutely adored, but one thing about it bugged me.

I’m not sure if this has changed, but 15 years ago they required us to have a date. I didn’t know very many guys and all I wanted to do was go to prom with my friends. I love laughing at my picture of myself and the date I ended up going with—a friend of a friend I think. He wore a top hat and sported a cane and he was a good six inches shorter than me.

I barely hung out with him during the dance. Instead, I spent the night with my friends, dancing and having fun.

It was nice to know that I could have a good time without having a “date” per se.

Founder’s Day Ball, 2004 and a Late-Night Diner Dinner, 2007

First Dance

Sometimes dates have outcomes you’d expect.

When I started college, I met a great guy who was also from Pittsburgh. Being the naive 18-year-old that I was, I instantly felt a connection that I hoped would become romantic.

I remember calling my sisters the night before the boy and I decided to go to our college’s Founder’s Day Ball. They were giddy with excitement, wondering what the night would bring. Soon enough, I realized we were much, much better as friends and we never actually dated beyond taking each other to things like school dances.

In the meantime, I found a wonderful friend in the process who has shared so many amazing memories with me.

Three years later, I briefly (I’m talking a month and a half) actually dated another man I had become close to during my college years. I remember one night we went out to a late-night dinner at a local diner we loved. I was very forward and flirtatious and remember trying to play footsie under the table and saying things I couldn’t believe were coming out of my mouth.

It was nice to know I had the confidence to be so sure of myself when it comes to matters of the heart. Our dates were fun, innocent and spontaneous—a nighttime trip to Dairy Queen or our local movie theater. However, speaking of matters of the heart, when we broke up it was the first time I felt truly heartbroken. While dating the boy didn’t exactly have the outcome I expected, I ended up becoming great friends with him as well.

Just those few dates with those boys resulted in a friend group that rivaled the Three Musketeers, This is Us’ Big Three, basically any friendship group of three you can think of. Those two boys turned out to be two of my very best, dearest friends. It’s funny to think about the surprising ways life can take you and turn out to be way better than you ever thought.

The most romantic date ever, 2011

chicago couple

While the relationship didn’t turn out with any positives except a story in a local magazine, the one I had in 2011 brought me the most romantic date I’ve ever had. As a self-described hopeless romantic, I thought going to visit my boyfriend while he was away in Chicago was straight out of a movie.

The weekend I was there, he took me to the Navy Pier and as we rode to the top of the Ferris wheel where we shared a passionate kiss. I will always appreciate the date and refer to it as “that one time I felt like I was living in a romantic comedy.”

My first and only blind date, 2012

passionate romantic couple

2012 was a tough year, as it was the year I got laid off due to budget cuts from the newspaper I was working at. While it was tough, it was also a great year because it was the year I met my current boyfriend.

The woman who worked at my apartment building’s front desk was friends with my boyfriend’s coworker, who happened to live in my building. They both agreed we would be good for each other and slipped a Starbucks gift card under my door.

My boyfriend and I met at the Starbucks at the end of my block and ended up chatting for hours. Six years later and we are still together and I’ve got a good feeling that that evening at Starbucks was my last first date.

Dating can be challenging, but so many important life lessons are learned.

Whether it’s getting over the fear of my first date, wishing I didn’t need a date at all, gaining confidence, appreciating romance or finding my forever date, I’ve learned so much with the men I’ve dated. As scary as it is to put yourself out there, it’s totally and completely worth it.

Interested in getting out of a not-so-great date? Check out this piece.

For Graduates Finding Love Might be the Next Step

You did it! You finally made it through those years of tedious classes, papers, dates and breakups and you’re moving on to start your life. So, where do you start?

Make this Your Summer of LOVE: For the next two weeks, you can message Relationship Expert and Founder of LOVE TV Karinna Karsten directly for free as she leads you with interactive tools and tutorials designed to speed up the success of your dating goals.

We know it isn’t easy and you’re ready to start your career off with a bang, but you deserve love too.

To sign up go here now and use special offer code Graduate when you click Start a 7 Day Free Trial.

What’s the catch?

Use this Code Graduate to receive your 14 day trial period on all subscriptions (that’s double our current LOVE TV 7 Day Free offer.)

You do have to add your credit card to get this 14 day offer. If you find the LOVE TV membership valuable for speeding up your relationship goals then do nothing and your 14 day free trial will roll over to a reoccurring LOVE TV subscription that you have chosen at the time you add your Graduate code. You can also cancel at anytime before the 14 days end and your credit card will not be charged. So you have everything to gain and nothing to lose!

Yup, you’ll be messaging through your subscription login directly with Karinna. And no, we won’t share your information with anyone, we’re only here for you.

You’ll also get access to LOVE TV’s premium love and relationship community membership, personal assessment tools and feedback, audio, video tutorials for dating, self love and building a high quality relationship too!

Welcome to Your Summer of LOVE: Learn How to find a date who is seeking a high quality match just like you.

Start Now Graduates!
Offer ends June 21st

Why the Advice “You’ll Find Love When You Stop Looking” Could be More Harmful Than Helpful

This cliché line is helping exactly… no one. So why are we still saying it?

When you’re single and looking for love, you’re bound to hear some useless (and cliché) dating advice.

You might be familiar with famous eye-rollers such as: “You just need to get out more” or “Just have fun, don’t overthink it.” Sigh.

But one piece of advice sticks out to me as particularly unhelpful: “You’ll find love when you stop looking.”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand where this idea comes from. After all, it sort of makes sense: if you’re not stressed out about finding love you’ll probably feel more relaxed, conversations will feel less forced, and you might even be more likely to take chances.

But there’s a problem with this “stop looking” logic.

Dr. Pepper Schwartz, a relationship expert (best known for Lifetime’s Married at First Sight), points out that it’s like saying, “You’ll find a job when you’re least looking for it.”

“It’s possible,” she says, “but rarely happens.” She adds that,“For the most part, people who wait for a job are unemployed. For me, it’s just an excuse for being scared to go and put the effort in. Yes, it happens, but no, it’s not a good strategy.”

And sure, maybe one day someone great will fall into your lap: you’ll have instant chemistry, everything in common, and the two of you will live happily ever after. We’ve all heard stories where something like that happens to a friend of a friend, so I guess it’s possible.

But you shouldn’t bet on it.

“You’ll find love when you stop looking” is dumb

People like to say things like “stop looking for love” because trying to find a great relationship is hard and not finding someone after putting yourself out there can be disappointing. You could potentially do everything right: you could introduce yourself to new people, go on dating sites, join clubs, go on blind dates, and still not have that special someone to bring to your cousin’s wedding.

It can be disheartening, scary, and disappointing to be out there looking for love knowing that there are no guarantees when it comes to relationships. Dating can make anyone feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. So, taking a step back and saying “Psh, I’m not even looking for love right now” might seem like a good way to make sure you aren’t disappointed.

But stopping the search isn’t the answer.

In fact, putting yourself out there and setting yourself up for disappointment is part of the whole “relationship” thing. Looking for love and finding is all about leaning into the scary stuff: putting yourself out there, being vulnerable, and taking chances. And that doesn’t end once you get into a relationship.

In fact, it’s usually just the beginning.

I met my fiancé in high school. We’ve been together for almost a decade now and in just a couple months we’ll be getting married. I know how uncommon it is to marry your high school sweetheart (in fact, it’s statistically ridiculous). So, for a long time I thought we were the poster couple for the “you’ll find love when you’re not looking” philosophy.

After all, people were always saying I was so lucky to have found my future husband so early in life. And I am lucky. I’m blessed with a great relationship with an amazing guy, but our relationship isn’t based on luck or chance. We didn’t get to 10 years by accident.

We choose each other.

Happy loving couple

We’ve been together for so long because every day we make the choice to be together. We make ourselves vulnerable every day: taking risks and making compromises. We make plans around each other. We have love because we truly and completely want it, and are willing to work for it.

I like Dr. Pepper Schwartz’s advice because I think that getting into a relationship is a lot like landing an amazing job. To get that job you’re probably going to have to put in a lot of effort: you’ll need to go back to school or get some training. You’re going to need to do some research and improve your skills.

You might even need to update your résumé, get a new suit, and all-around make yourself a good candidate for the job. And if you don’t get one job, it could be embarrassing or disheartening, but soon you’ll find a new one and you’ll apply for that too.

But the important thing is that it doesn’t get easier once you finally do get hired. It’s really only then when the real work starts. That’s when you have to start making compromises, focusing more time on your career, and working hard to make the relationship…I mean job… great.

You can’t be afraid to do all the things you need to do to find a partner, because that same stuff is required to maintain the relationship. This idea that singles should stop looking, that they’ll get more out of trying less is only setting people up for disappointment and bad relationships… and that isn’t fair.

Like I said, when you’re single, you’re going to get all kinds of bad advice. But the idea of trying less is probably one of the worst.

Maybe there is no great advice that works for everyone, no magic words of wisdom to guarantee everyone exactly the relationship they want. But, I’ve found that if you can take the risks and do the work to find someone special, you’ll be ready for the relationship, and the love, you deserve.

Tradition and Dating: What I Learned about Happily Ever After

Being a self-professed traditionalist in dating may not be the correct way to describe myself after all.

All my life my family teased me about how much I valued tradition. Whether it was holidays or dating or following certain etiquette rules, I always placed a lot of value on certain customs. Little did I know, maybe I’m a little more modern than I think.

Here is my journey of being a traditionalist in the world of dating:

The value of a title

These days, most people date casually or just hook up and don’t worry about titles. Some don’t even bother with getting married. I always wished for the marriage and kids thing and when I was young, while watching sitcoms like Full House and later dramas like Dawson’s Creek, I always wanted a boyfriend.

Fast forward to years later. I didn’t date anyone in high school so college was my first experience learning what I wanted in a relationship. I ended up getting into a very brief relationship with one of my best friends. We are still close today which is really nice. What’s even nicer is the way he asked me to be his girlfriend. It was romantic, innocent and one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me.

It was our senior year of high school and I had just moved out of a hellish suite situation into a double room with a roommate who was never there. I was watching Mona Lisa Smile in my room just relaxing on a Saturday night. I suddenly looked down at my (dating myself here) Motorola RAZR and saw a text from a friend that my male friend was in her room, nervously eating chicken nuggets and sipping vodka. With a slight push and support from her, he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend.

Cue Laura Linney in Love, Actually (fast forward to about 2:07 in that clip to know what I mean) laying there in my uncomfortable dorm twin bed. My friend took so long to work up the guts to ask me to be his girlfriend that I got almost entirely through Mona Lisa Smile again.

He finally walked in and didn’t say a word, just putting in the Phantom of the Opera movie remake, fast forwarding to the “All I Ask of You” scene. After that, he put in my worn When Harry Met Sally DVD, fast forwarding to the last scene where Harry professes his love to Sally, saying things like “I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.” I suppose he saw us as Harry and Sally at that point in our lives, and knowing it’s my favorite movie of all time, he ran with it.

After that, he asked me to be his girlfriend and we kissed for a long time, eventually falling asleep after talking all night. I woke up and was nearly late for church the next morning, but I couldn’t stop smiling.

Moving forward another few years, I met my current boyfriend. After having a first date at Starbucks and more wonderful dinner dates at our respective apartments, I was out covering a lunch for my former job working for a newspaper.

Things were quite typical of the lunches I covered and I was getting a little bored and restless. I felt my phone vibrate in my purse and reached down to check it. I saw a text from my boyfriend that read: “I had a great time last night.” I smiled and responded: “Me too.” He wrote back, “You know what I was just thinking?” I quickly typed back a question mark, careful not to be too conspicuous. He wrote back: “That I have the best girlfriend ever.” He included a smiley face at the end.

I don’t remember much else of that day, nor anything about that lunch, but I will always remember it was May 10, 2012 and once again, I couldn’t stop smiling.

Call me old-fashioned…

the role of tradition in dating

I’ve always thought how cool it would be to save myself until marriage. I am a huge sucker for those old Notebook-esque couples who have only one sexual partner—each other. To me at least, there’s just such a beauty and pure romance to it all. Not that I don’t mind if others have more than one partner, I am a strong component of the phrase “You do you.” I just know that for me, it’s always something I thought I want to do.

I still have managed to save myself for marriage. My boyfriend, who also grew up with similar values, has been fully and completely respectful of my decision and thinks it’s pretty cool if we make it. While we’re working on the next step of our relationship, I honestly am happy I didn’t give in and go for it with some guys—guys like this one who walked me back to my apartment after a date and suggested an after dinner drink.

I mixed us drinks and as we got about halfway through them, he went for it and tried to start going hot and heavy. I knew exactly where it was going and I quickly wriggled my way out from underneath him. I explained that I’d at least like to get to know him first before having sex, a standard I knew I had at least wanted to hold onto, no matter how much I fell for a guy.

He left hurriedly and ultimately ghosted me. I am relieved I didn’t give in and just go for it because I knew I’d regret it.

Then there’s another guy I dated for about six months. He never wanted to meet my family and when I went to visit him in Chicago for a weekend, he didn’t want to be in any photos. It was like I went on a weekend trip with myself. The only evidence I have of him there is a faint reflection of him in my sunglasses as he snapped my photo on a boat.

While I definitely “did” more with him than the first guy, I am glad I didn’t go any further. He clearly didn’t love me and that was fine. I’m just lucky I realized it early on, and got some pizza in the process.

These times were two instances I could honestly say that I am glad I call myself a traditionalist.
…Or Maybe Not

Lovers having a romantic walk

After mapping out how I wanted to write this essay, I realized that maybe I am not so traditional after all. For someone who places so much value on the steps from when you first meet someone to marriage, I moved in with my boyfriend after dating for just a year. After a lot (and I mean a lot) of decision-making, I had a good gut feeling about the move. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, tradition or not.

Also, I realized how untraditional our actual relationship is. As much as I would like to get married someday, when people ask if I’m happy, I can honestly say I am. We’ve got a nice little family going on, with my boyfriend and our elderly English bulldog. That’s a lot more than most people have, which often reminds me just how much I get the warm and fuzzy feeling when the three of us are spending a cozy Saturday night together on the couch. It’s comfortable, it’s easy and it’s romantic in its own way. I realize now that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean engaged, married, babies—it could be a far less traditional decades-long relationship, dogs and a whole lot of Netflixing on the couch.

While thinking about this topic, I had the realization that what’s important is making sure you’re happy. Who cares what others think when it comes to your relationship, whether you’re traditional or completely out there (a Charlotte or Samantha, if you may). Most of us are in that nice in-between sweet spot anyway.

Happy dating!

Interested in learning more about dating in the modern age? Check out this piece, a talk with LOVE TV’s Karinna Karsten.