Loving Bravely Begins with Dating Bravely

The desire for an intimate partnership is woven into our DNA. Human beings want to love and be loved. When you look at our culture, it’s easy to see how obsessed we are with the idea of love (Exhibit A: match-making shows like “The Bachelor” and networks that devote entire days to wedding-related programming like “Friday Bride-day” on TLC). However we seem to be far less obsessed with learning what it takes to create a healthy and happy intimate relationship. Spoiler alert: it takes a LOT more than swiping until your soulmate appears on the screen of your smartphone. Here are three things you can do right now to prepare yourself for a romantic relationship:

1. Get to know yourself

A healthy romantic relationship begins with two people who are willing to take responsibility for who they are and how they think, feel, and act in love. Love requires relational self-awareness. Modern love looks a lot like a marketplace with lovers searching for a partner in a manner not entirely dissimilar to how they search for a great pair of shoes. This focus on the other guy takes you away from the really important work of understanding how your history, your personality, and your beliefs profoundly (but subtly) shape how you “do” love.

2. Create a life of meaning

Many of the ways we talk about love– “You complete me”, “my better half”—suggest that we aren’t quite fully alive until we have found “the one.” It is important to be aware of an important “both/and” here. Creating a fulfilling romantic relationship BOTH adds dimension/possibility to our lives, AND we are better able to dive into a romantic relationship when we feel comfortable and happy in our own skin. Creating a life of passion, meaning, and connection lays the foundation for an intimate partnership.

3. Practice self-aware dating

Self-aware dating means treating dates with a sense of sacredness and specialness. It means being willing to let yourself be fully present on a first date by putting your phone away, letting go of thoughts about what else might be out there, and opening yourself to the possibility of creating magic with the person across the table from you.

Making the shift from searching for Mr. or Ms. Right to becoming Mr. or Ms. Right is the difference that can make a difference.

That’s why The Family Institute at Northwestern University is launching Loving Bravely: A Relationship Readiness Course. This course will help you expand your relational self-awareness by providing:

  • A practical framework to understand your patterns, strengths, and weaknesses in intimate relationships
  • Tools to manage the complex dynamics that are inherent in all romantic relationships
  • Exercises for living and loving mindfully

So, if you are between 18-40 years old and…

  • Single
  • Frustrated with dating
  • Starting over
  • At the start of a new relationship and committed to getting it right

… join us for a powerful and engaging opportunity to better understand what it takes to make a relationship work!

Loving Bravely: A Relationship Readiness Course is a six-session course is based on the work of the forthcoming book by Alexandra Solomon, PhD, Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want (New Harbinger, February 2017). Alexandra has been in clinical practice for nearly 20 years, she presents nationally on topics related to love and intimacy, and she teaches the internationally renowned undergraduate course, Building Loving and Lasting Relationships: Marriage 101 at Northwestern University. She will be joined by Family Institute clinicians Sara Klein, AMFT, Jessica Pryor, PhD, and Stan Selinger, PhD. All participants will receive an advance copy of the book as part of their registration.

(Originally published on TFI Talks.)

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