How to Find a Long Term Relationship (1 Simple Principle)
Do you sometimes feel like a frog hopping from lily pad to lily pad (consider those pads to be short-term relationships)…but find that every “lily pad” you jump to sinks like a rock? I hear you.
If the perfect guy, who you told all of your friends was The One, ended up ghosting you on the third date…I know how frustrated you are, especially because now you’ve got to start completely over with the 21st-century dating scene.
If you are just sick of the short term relationship pattern you’re stuck in, jumping from one disappointment to another, this video and article are for you.
You’re far from the only woman out there who’s ready to throw in the towel. It’s super frustrating at times! But before you completely give up hope, stick with me. I’m going to teach you how to finally attract a healthy, long term relationship. You’ll be so glad you came.
I’ve helped thousands of women—maybe more—navigate the world of dating, particularly after divorce or the end of a long term relationship. And I have found one concept to be the cornerstone of my advice to all of them:
Find love by chasing principles, rather than by chasing pheromones.
Allow me to explain.
Why a Long Term Relationship Needs Principles
Principles are things we all have, that we use to guide us to make decisions. Merriam-Webster defines a principle as a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption, or a rule or code of conduct.
I’m sure you can think of your own principles. You probably have principles around your family life…whether you want a family…how much time you want to spend with your family…
You might have principles about religion. Are you religious or not? What religion do you follow? Is it important that your partner be the same religion?
You could have principles about politics…or the environment…whatever your principles are, they’re important to you, and they guide how you live. Your specific set of principles come from how you were raised, as well as your unique life experiences, and even your personality.
Use those principles that guide you to find someone who shares similar principles, and you set yourself up for relationship bliss.
Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT Clinician, author, PACT developer, and co-founder of the PACT Institute, calls these shared principles of governance:
“These principles are, in essence, your Ten Commandments. Much like our shared belief in the Constitution, you must believe your shared principles will hold together over the long run, despite shifts and changes in love, lust, common interests, and all other ephemeral attractants. Depending on your imagination and forethought, your principles could include survival, thriving, trust, respect, admiration, radical loyalty, devotion, and a feeling of believing in something greater than the self.”
Why Pheromones Keep You Lily Pad Hopping
On the other hand, we have pheromones that we often let guide us in finding potential partners. Pheromones are simply chemicals we release to attract other humans sexually. For the sake of this article and video, I want to consider pheromones as just physical attraction. Before you can know if you share principles with someone or not, you make a snap judgment about whether you’re physically attracted to him. This is, of course, the basis for dating apps.
I don’t want to call you out, but I’m willing to bet you’ve chased after pheromones at least once in your life. Maybe there was that guy that you could. not. stay. away. from…even though you knew he was totally terrible for you. Maybe it was his dimples that drove you wild…his manly smell…or his biceps…whatever it was, you found it irresistible, despite your brain screaming that this was NOT the guy for you.
So let me break it down for you: you will continue to hop from lily pad to lily pad in short term relationships if you chase pheromones.
Who you are physically attracted to has very little correlation to your future happiness in that relationship. Even worse, as that relationship develops, the intensity of that initial attraction will diminish. And then all you’re left with is a big pile of nothing. A sinking lily pad.
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And that, my dear, is why you should instead focus on understanding a man’s principles and finding a guy who shares yours.
While attraction will fade over time, principles tend to stay fairly steady throughout life. And when you find a long term relationship with a man who shares your principles, you’ll find that those principles grow stronger together.
If he’s a family man now, he’ll likely always be a family man. If he’s spiritual now, it’s likely he will be spiritual in the future. If he believes in helping people and the world, he’ll keep on.
And…if he’s a selfish jerk who hates kids…what do you think he’ll be like in 10 years?
Identifying Your Principles for a Long Term Relationship
Okay, so you’re ready to admit that you need to change your approach to finding a long term relationship, and you’re willing to push aside those pheromones in favor of principles. But what if you don’t know what your principles are…or which matter in dating?
Think about the kind of long term relationship you want. Really visualize what it will be like. Not so much “my love will have jet black hair and piercing eyes…” focus on what the day-to-day, as well as the big picture will be like.
Do you want kids? Or would you mind ending up with a man who already has kids?
Would you like him to share your love of volunteering, or talking about politics?
Do you want to get re/married, or would you be happy living together?
Does he need to be vegan if you are?
Questions like these help you focus on those principles you have and care about, even if you’ve never identified them as such.
How to Be Guided By Principles, Not Pheromones
I get that attraction is a huge part of dating. Researchers have found, over and over again, that we tend to pursue relationships with people we find physically attractive.
But I need you to realize that attractions and pheromones are only part of the relationship puzzle. Sure, swipe on those apps based on looks…but also read their profiles, because you can get at least a basic sense of who might have similar principles. A guy who says “I’m at the beach 24/7. #PartyLife!” on his dating profile is probably not looking to settle down.
When you go on dates, ask questions to understand what this man’s principles are, particularly as they relate to a potential long term relationship. It’s actually pretty difficult to have a getting-to-know-you conversation and not pick up on at least a few principles. Here are some topics that will help you:
- What he’s passionate about
- His family upbringing
- What he does in his spare time
- What he’s looking for
But also read between the lines, because you can learn a lot about a guy that way. I have a friend who went on several dates with a man who seemed like a perfect gentleman. But on several occasions, he’d tell a story that made him look like a total jerk. One story was about an argument he got into with his neighbor, and he laughingly told my friend how he called the neighbor names that I won’t even repeat here.
My friend realized that this man didn’t share her principle of treating others kindly, and she knew there was no future with him, so she ended things.
I realize this may be a very different approach to dating and love than you’ve taken in the past, but if what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working, what do you have to lose?
I also want to tell you that you should never compromise your principles. It won’t work. My friend who was dating the closet jerk tried to brush his stories aside, but they bothered her. She knew that he didn’t align with her principles, and when she finally admitted this to herself, the relationship was over.
Don’t let a guy steamroll your principles with his own. If you’re vegan, for example, and you don’t typically mind if people eat meat in front of you, don’t let a man start lecturing you about how dumb veganism is.
You don’t need that, and you know he’s not Mr. Right if he’s already criticizing your principles.
It should make you happy to realize that there is someone out there who shares your principles! Your love and future life together will be so much sweeter for being in sync about the way you think!
Talk to me in the comments below: what top principle do you want a man to share with you?