Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Avoiding a Love Triangle - 6 Tips to Help your Love Last

I do not know why, but the other night I dreamed a male friend from my past was hitting on me. While I did nothing "wrong", my husband walked by us sitting in the back seat of a car, and, of course, got the wrong idea. What I mostly remember from the dream is the extreme hurt I saw on his face. I wanted to run after him and assure him we were alright. When I awoke, my eyes were damp. I felt an even stronger love for my husband after waking form that dream than I had before.

Sometimes, I do not see how it is possible to love someone "more" but is, and I do. What I do not understand is how, when someone has genuine feelings for his or her partner, cheating still occurs. I could not, and truly I mean this, cheat on my husband. I love him deeply and dearly and could never hurt him that way. But what of those who feel this same genuine depth of love, and it is not reciprocated? Or, the object of their affection has feelings for someone else?

The classic love triangle, where one party is claiming affection for two others, is perhaps the most common cause of depression, suicide, or even murder. Let's explore a few ways to prevent falling into such a dreadful trap.

 1. Guard your heart Yes, I believe in "love at first sight". I know you "know" he or she is perfect for you, but until you both are truly committed to each other, guard your heart. If it ends early in the relationship,that way you can be thankful for the lovely experience and move on.

 2. Do not be afraid to express love I know it seems counter to #1, but it is possible to feel love without giving away your soul. If you feel love, express your feeling. Your partner may be waiting for you to make that leap - and when you don't, could begin to lose interest in the relationship and/ or start looking elsewhere. If your expression of love turns them off, then perhaps it is good to get out now. If you cannot see each other in truth, it might be better to walk away.

 3. Trust them If you imply trust, then truly trust them. Giving someone the third degree when they are honest and truthful can wear your relationship down, perhaps creating them to do the very thing you are accusing them of. 

 4. Develop strong relationships with others Outside of romance, your friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues are valuable to you as well. Take a little time to nurture these relationships, perhaps with a little more effort when you are first dating someone to cement them a little more firmly. Your outside relationships help to boost your self-esteem, which will help you heal quickly if your mate does leave you for another. Not only that, it allows you to keep a sense of autonomy. See more about that in #6. 

 5. Treat your partner like a rock star If you are truly attracted to each other, show it! I know many are not into public displays of affection - that is not what I'm talking about. I mean treat that person like the STAR in your life they are. Try not to be critical. Don't nag them, or trash-talk them in front of your friends and family. If this person may someday be your spouse (or perhaps they already are), then treat them like the #1 they are! Celebrate small achievements. Give them encouragement and positive feedback. Compliment them often.

 6. Be true to yourself Somewhere in the maze of romance and friendship, you must find and keep holding on to your own personal identity. The relationship may feel like it is its own being, and that is fine, just do not lose yourself in there too. You know your favorite things to do, your best ice cream flavor, the funniest movie you ever saw. These are all part of you. Take time every day just to check in with yourself and remember who you are regardless of who you are with.

I was a late bloomer in the "love" department, not getting married until I was over 40 years old. Before getting married, I was in a few long-term relationships that failed, and suffered what felt like more than my fair share of broken hearts. Some of these tips are from my own experience - others were from advice I have gotten from wise people along the way. If you are experiencing a breakup and are having a difficult time coping, I suggest reviewing the stages of grief". A breakup, especially from a long-term relationship can be much like a death. Also, seek help immediately if you have even the slightest hint of suicidal thoughts or thoughts of wanting to hurt another. The most important thing to remember in a breakup is that you are not alone.

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