If meeting a partner with whom you can co-create a mutually fulfilling, loving relationship or nurturing and growing an existing relationship is high on your priorities, it’s time to throw out your internal rule book. It’s time to become conscious of any external rules you’ve adopted and followed.

If you’ve carried the same baggage, beliefs, and behaviours into each of your dating and relationship experiences and ended up with the same person, just in a different package, or kept encountering variations of the same problems and yet expected different results, the way you perceive the issue of ‘getting’ a relationship and being a partner is the problem.

Hiding behind complying with fake rules blocks intimacy. The rules don’t work; they just cause pain. They’re a pattern trap that’s not working for you.

Using assumptions and these faux rules is setting you up for disappointment. It’s like boarding a train thinking you’re bound for London Victoria and then getting upset when you arrive at London King’s Cross instead. No matter how many times you ride the rules train, it will not change the destination — unhappiness. You are, and always have been, worthy of love, care, trust, and respect. It’s time for a change.

Authentic relationships are ones within which you get to be more of who you really are.

You’ve relied on emotional baggage to drive your thinking, behaviour and choices. Authentic relationships are mutually fulfilling with love, care, trust and respect. Each of you is allowed to bring your respective needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions—your selves—to the relationship.

What are your shoulds and musts about dating and relationships?

Who do you think you have to be in order to ‘get’ a relationship or partner?

What don’t you allow yourself to need, expect, desire, feel or think to attract and try to hold on to a partner?

Can you see where following these rules has caused you to act inauthentically?

Identify alternatives to your rules. Do things because it’s who you are, not because you’re obeying, trying to game the system, or attempting to avoid conflict, criticism, disappointment, loss or rejection.

For more on authentic, loving relationships, check out my book Love, Care, Trust and Respect.

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