How to Choose a Partner Who is Right For You

Many people are confused about how to find a loving relationship. What’s the best way to choose a partner, and once you’ve chosen, how do you know if he or she is the right one for you? Well, I have a few opinions about the matter that I’m happy to share with you today.

For me, one crucial lesson about love is that it’s not logical. Meaning, our minds don’t choose who we love; our hearts do!

We can like someone because of certain qualities they have; because of their intelligence, kindness or sense of adventure. But if your heart doesn’t feel it–if there isn’t a strong attractive pull to be with them–then it’s not likely that the relationship is going to transform into love.

What sets love apart from other relationships is that heart-connected feeling. It can’t be faked, and it can’t be dictated by the mind.

While you may be physically attracted to many different people everyday, what I’m talking about here is the desire for emotional closeness with another person. You know, that feeling of falling in love.

You can’t help yourself; you want more.

There is a lot of wisdom in this type of attraction, and if we would just listen to it, we’ll know who our romantic matches are. (I know what you’re going to say–what about relationships that are highly chaotic? I say: the lesson is to connect to a deep sense of love within yourself so it’s no longer acceptable to be treated so poorly. This is a self-love issue.)

These highly-attractive relationships are often intense. They’re complicated. They provoke a lot of emotion. Because of the complexity of these relationships, many of us resort to choosing partners with our logical minds out of fear.

But when you choose a partner with your mind, it’s only because you’ve blocked your heart. It’s an attempt to protect yourself. Unfortunately, this creates a couple problems for us in love.

1) Choosing a partner when your heart is shut-down will lead to a lack of heart-connection with that person. And that’s not what you want in a romantic relationship.

Although the partner’s we choose with our minds might be nice and easier, if your heart isn’t in it, then it’s not going to feel like love. It’s basically friendship.

And we want love.

2) You can’t outsmart your unconscious. You think you can. But you can’t.

Trust me, I’m a therapist. I’ve been in therapy for 10 years. I know my psyche quite well (and yet there’s so much I don’t know–that’s the beauty of it).

Unfortunately, knowing what my patterns are is not enough for me to stop repeating them! Yes, it’s helpful to know why I feel the things I feel, but simply knowing will not make them go away.

Making an exerted effort to change will make my issues in relationships go away.

This can only be done when they get played out with someone who brings them to the surface (the highly-attractive relationship).

Your unconscious is programed to lead you to people who will provoke old patterns, experiences, and fears that started long ago. The point is not to outsmart this process by finding someone who’s different; the point is to evolve beyond the fears that come to the surface.

In my humble opinion, the “right” partner is the one who will help you evolve. Trust this process! Listen to your heart, let it guide you, and be willing to work through whatever surfaces with the people you really love.

Please leave a comment below about your experience in heart-connected relationships. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Comments

ali

Awesome Shellty! Your advices are always so helpful! I am very grateful for having find you in my life. I wish infinite love, joy and abundance always!!
I love you!! :-)

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Karla

Hi Shelley,
i am in a relationshio which is pretty much like the one you describe as with the heart and not only because of logic. We used to argue alot but then we grew out of it I guess. We have a difference of 23 years! so you see what I mean about not being logical! He helps me evolve and I help him. I feel like our relationship is stronger now than ever. Though because if the age difference my psychologist advised against continuing the relationship. I guess the oxytocin is flowing!
I really enjoy your blogs, they are full of sense and reason and love, thanks for doing this, it helps me understand the why’s of relationships : )
Karla

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Shelly Bullard

No one should be advising you in the direction of the relationship–that’s your heart’s job.

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Bella

Wow thanks – this so speaks to me right now…I’m in one of thos ‘complicated’ relationships at the moment and I know the only way for me is to work on myself…when I commit to meditation and doing things for myself, I feel better and the relationship is better. There is less fear. but if I forget, I get instantly caught up in the fear. Thanks for reminding me that I am doing the right kind of work!

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Zeyno

What if the person we are in love with and have a truly felt heart connection with isn’t good for us in other areas of life? My situation is an example : the man who I feel is my emotional match and who we had a mutual loving, deep and intense relationship doesn’t like to work and offers no compromise for his disposition. I am therefore expected to be the breadwinner, and the lover, and the mother should there be a child in the future. Even though I love this person and know that he loves me, how can I trust this person with my life? So I walked away. Afterwards I met another person who matched me to the T externally, but inside there was no connection. I had ignored the warning signs but I tried and pushed, as it was so refreshing to feel that I could trust this other person with life responsibilties. We did split eventually after a few months. I was too tired from trying unilaterally. So now I yearn for the loving relationship I had with this other guy who wasn’t good for me in other ways, but I have ended up looking for a similar love connection with someone else. In my wek times, I go back and forth between going back to him again. It is very tough.

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Shelly Bullard

People aren’t supposed to be everything to us. You decide, “do I want a partner who is a friend, or do I want a partner who is a lover?” Of course, different roles come into play (becoming parents, etc). But you have decide what the primary purpose of the relationship is (to be easy? to be juicy?) and then commit to that.

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Michael

This advice is bittersweet for me. I have been with my girlfriend for a year and a half. It seems perfect in every way. People say how “good” she is for me. I love her but just don’t feel that “heart” connection. I can’t bring myself to tell her because I know it will break her heart! I am at a crossroad and can’t bring myself to take the fork that I know I should.

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Shelly Bullard

Thanks for your comment, Michael. Remember, when we make decisions with our hearts, those decisions support everyone involved. What I mean is, if your heart isn’t in it with this woman, letting her go will give her the opportunity to find someone who’s heart WILL be.

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Jackie Morrison

It’s the subconscious that picks whom we are most strongly drawn to and become romantically attracted to. But sometimes that love picker is unhealthy and we trick our hearts to feel love for someone who is bad for us. This is why single people who engage with Imago work to change their attachment style and love map to healthy and nurturing are only increasing their odds of truly picking the right partner. Right partner defined by someone who is healthy, loving, and respectful and most of all … reciprocal.

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Shelly Bullard

What I would say is that the “love picker” (your unconscious) is trying to heal. And that’s why it chooses who it does–to give you the best opportunity to heal. Again, you can’t outsmart this process. Even by attempting to “heal” outside of a relationship (of course, there’s lots of work you can do when you’re single), but nothing will prepare you for the challenges that arise in partnership. I have heard a lot people talk about this–wanting to heal outside of the relationship, hoping that once they’ve “healed” relationships will be easy. My experience has been the most transformative work is done within the relationship.

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Brittany

Thanks for this comment, Shelly! I find myself drawn to healing modalities outside of relationships-therapy, massage, yoga and acupuncture. They empower me to get to know my self on an individual level and provide me with a sense of control so that I can be mindful of my intuitions. However, I too find that the real healing is happening for me in relationships. Even though it can be difficult for me to surrender and let down my walls, it is this very act of trust that we are not responsible for controlling everything in our own lives that inevitably inspires me. This surrender brings me closer to love by nurturing the parts of me that were once hurt and letting go. I am constantly surprised how little we need to force healing, it comes in it’s own ways! Thank you for sharing your stories with us :)

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Shelly Bullard

You’re so welcome, Brittany. Thank you for sharing your story with us. :)

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Jackie Morrison

You strike me as someone who has never really had alot of trouble attracting men for a long term relationship that is romantic. I see you have some great skills to share given your experience in partnerships. I do wonder though how you are able to empathize with those who have not had the kind of success and love you have had in your life. Being passed over and overlooked, especially in one’s formative years, can be incredibly painful and a person can create some beliefs about their ability to attract and sustain a happy love as a result. I ask this because as much as I enjoy your articles and insight, I would be hesitant to work with you as a love coach because I am one of those people who had this experience. Growing up I was the overweight nerd who was socially awkward and didn’t change out of that till my mid-20’s, which was a slow process. While I have had the ability to cultivate long-term wonderful friendships, romance has been like an Achilles heel for me, since I identify still as the passed over/not the girlfriend type because that is what my peer group told me throughout junior high and high school. So my question is, how could you be any help to me when in my perception (PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG) you are girl the boys always wanted. Therefore, there is no way in my mind that you can comprehend my pain in love.

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Jackie Morrison

I respectfully disagree with the reasoning that the love picker is trying to heal. Rather, when a love picker is that broken that it keeps attracting anything less than a healthy, loving, and mutually respectful nurturing partner/relationship …. it’s more a phenomenon of trauma repetition. EMDR does wonders for healing trauma without the drama of a man who triggers all the old and unproductive dynamics.

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Maddie

SO accurate. A hard lesson to accept at times. I spent a lot of time running away from these intense desires for emotional closeness, often due to a lack of self-love. Once I found the courage to be still, and let these relationships run their course, the learning and growth expanded exponentially. And not just for me, but for the other person as well.

One of the most difficult parts of these relationships is knowing when to let go. When the emotional connection is so intense, its absence is made very apparent. For self-love reasons like mentioned, there are certain times, certain people, that I can love better from afar. For even the abuser is abused when his abuse is allowed to continue.

Thanks for another great post Shelly!

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Christiane

Thank you so much.
In neck of the woods, the conscious choices are applauded most, it seems. Making it difficult living it all out, following my heart with all the emotions that it may bring. Happy and tough. But oh boy! have there been alot of them. And never, never before have I felt a personal growth at this level.
A lot to work with – and I hope that I will be able to be with the man that I really love eventually. For better and for worse.
But the choice that seems “easiest” is a very conscious, convenient and now it dawns on me – very much with my mind rather than my heart.

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claire

Lovely post! I just got out of a 3 year relationship with a wonderful guy. There was a lot of negative emotion coming from both of us. I finally decided I just liked the friendship of this guy and there wasn’t any real love on my side. The question of whether or not I made a good choice is still on my mind though. Articles like these are always helpful in thinking things through. Thank you.

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Renee

Thank you so much for this Shelly. It has offered me insights into an experience I have been working through for several years now. A “non-relationship, relationship” that was extremely chaotic (thank you for that language and distinction) – because I was the only one who was really “in” and felt a heart-connection, sadly he wasnt able to tell me his truth about what was missing for years. The experience was clearly a lesson for me in self-love. Ive come through it now, with only a small amount of sorrow remaining that it took such a complete emotional annihilation and years of my life to learn this. Hopefully it has created a space within me for something beautiful to happen in the future.

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Kim

Thank you, Shelly. I needed this this morning. After a two year sebatical with no dating or relationships, I took the leap and have become involved with a younger man…much younger. I have told myself for months, “don’t go there”….but it wasn’t like some cougar attraction, not me. It is real….so much in common…extreme attraction, but because of our age difference, I didn’t think I should go there. The opportunity presented itself and I took it. Feeling very vulnerable….a little afraid, but no regrets.

I realize my patterns of past relationships and I want to survive this. I want it to be something substantial that only gets better, creates a real emotional evolution within me. But, fear and self doubt say there is only pain….you are 49…he is 27….I know, what were you thinking?

But again, the attraction is real….it isn’t just physical….and I want patience to be able to see it through.

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Eva

Kim, I do so admire your strength and want you to know that I support you in your struggle for the relationship to work out. Your post inspires me and gives me hope, thanks for that!

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Maygen

Shelley,

Your blogs are always right on target. I have been with my soulmate now for 2 and a half years. It was so easy and free at first, as if we were celebrating finally finding each other. We are now in the “work phase” as I should call it. I’ve never grown so much in my life as I have with her. And even though its the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life, I know that it’s worth it. We are together working through our fears and healing from our pasts. I have to say that it’s so uncomfortable and scary sometimes, but we both know its for the best. So we are both doing the work so we can keep each other forever. For this I am very grateful! I would have never healed like this on my own. My advice is to not get distracted by the illusion of fear, it’s supposed to be hard work! Nothing worth having is going to be easy! So stick with it, don’t give up, and follow your heart.

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Rose

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Shelly!!! Finally someone articulated my feelings and wishes, not just when it comes to my current relationship, but a life-long deep need to truly connect with someone on all levels. Currently, I am separated from a kind and loving man who is open emotionally and can easily discuss his emotions and our relationship and how he feels about me, but I no longer feel in love with him. Now, sadly I’m not sure if I ever was in love, but I do love him. In the beginning, my mind convinced me that his kind, chivalrous nature would somehow supplant the incongruent issues, such as shaky chemistry (on my part) intellectual inequality and lack of any life passions or interests on his part. Now ten years later, I’ve realized that I’ve loved him and admired him more like a friend. Ten years of boredom and a lack of intellectual stimulation have come home to roost. Now some have wondered how I could continue to stay when a lot of things were missing- well- it’s seems I traded some things for others, but my heart couldn’t be kept down. I’ve hurt him deeply, but because of the disparities between us, especially the intellectual one, I felt like I was constantly repressing parts of myself that I couldn’t share, because he didnt understand, didnt have the knowledge, or didn’t care about anything “stimulating”. It was like cutting off an appendage and I feel like I’ve been hemorrhaging for years.

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Any Kaul

Totally agree! Our partner is a mirror. They guide us to be our best selves. It’s not a walk in the park…it’s gonna be a bumpy ride that will make it worth the trip.

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Linda Luz

**posted this earlier to the mind body green website**
Sooo going through this right now. I’m suuuupppper attracted to a guy I occasionally see. When we see each other we could light up the night sky… it’s magical! BUT I keep him at an arm’s distance because I know the kind of guy he is… he is the same type of guy I’ve dated for the past 6 years. The one who has left me with a broken heart at the end. I can’t trust him, I don’t know how to. We haven’t discussed a serious relationship because I don’t let it get there… everytime I feel like it’s getting too close, I back away and immediately start seeing others. I want to just let go with him and see where it takes me, but I’m just tooo scared! :(

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Jake

Wow this is crazy. I met a woman about 4 months after being with in a non-loving “logical” relationship for 10 years. To both of or faults, my wife cheated on me as a result of the no love “logical” relationship we had. The woman I met came from a mentally abusive jealous relationship. She had dated a few men until we met.
When we met it was an instant heart and soul connection beyond what I thought two people could experience together. We had found out that we both had nearly crossed paths in our lives many times before, but it wasn’t until our relationships ended 10 years later that we finally connected. It was like two paths of separate energy flowing in unknowing parallel for many years, were suddenly joined and fused together to complete a circle. I have never in my entire life of being with different woman had ever felt a connection like that before. Amazing on all accounts.
She had been out of her marriage for about a year before we met and was fully ready to settle down. We both have two small children each and she was full-on ready willing and able to take my kids on as her kids. She really wanted to be a family. However, fairly fresh out of my old relationship and still reeling from the effects of my past relationship I was apprehensive about committing to her and her kids. Instead of letting my heart lead the way I seem to let logic and fear dictate the course. I was too concerned about the cost of raising four kids, moving on with my past. She tried so hard to help me through my insecurities, however it was too much for her to take and could no longer wait for me to make up my mind. Sadly it ended. However, during the course of our time together, she made me want to become a better man, showed me how to really love a woman and defined a new whole new world of possibilities of what a truly loving relationship could be if lead with your heart and soul.

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Amy

What if there is a strong sexual attraction for him? Is it enough? Is it the sort of attraction I’m supposed to look for? He is adorable in every other way but I don’t feel myself “caught”…

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Jon

Shelly, I just found your site from MindBodyGreen. Love it! I just recently spent most of last year in EFT (Emotional Focused Therapy). I’m assuming you are familiar with this theory/model? As a man, who has operated his life almost exclusively from his “head”, the discovery of letting your heart be a guide was awakening and a ground breaking discovery for me. Its amazing the Joy I’ve discovered by listening to my heart (and sadness as well, but I also learned you need each to actually realize/experience the other). This article strikes that chord and serves as an excellent reminder to continue the practice of using heart as a compass in life. Great work. Keep it up. And Thank you!

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carol

I’m 56 and have been a widow for two years. Almost one year ago, I met a man and began a relationship. I can’t begin to describe how intense my feelings for him were. Our chemistry and attraction was beyond anything I ever dreamed. But he was so much like my late husband–deceptive and unfaithful. Almost a year later, we still share amazing chemistry but are no longer together because I got tired of pretending to believe his lies. I’m learning to trust my “gut” instincts and listen to my internal voice. What frightens me is that I seem to be attracted to the same kind of man–one who will cheat and lie. I am afraid to trust my heart. How do I follow my heart without getting involved with another undeserving man who will cheat and lie?

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April

I love two people. I’m stuck between two amazing men. Who is right for me? They both love me, very much. Both provoke me to feel love for them..but the love I feel for each one is different. One is cozy, comforting. The other, is wild, un-knowing.

What do I do?!

Thank you!

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A

I’m afraid that love or heart connections aren’t real, that only one person feels it and the other does not… That has been my experience over the years. I’m in a logical relationship so logical that I may spend the rest of my life regretting leaving someone so good if I leave because I don’t feel a heart connection… Maybe a small glimmer of one on rare occasions. I feel that I pretend a lot and say/do the things I should without heart behind it. He has asked me to marry him and I’ve said yes. As invitations are due to be mailed soon I find myself at the greatest crossroads ever. I am so lost. I’m afraid to choose heart and be led around and destroyed again and afraid to marry someone that I don’t love in that way that we are calling heart. Help!

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Shelly Bullard

If you don’t believe in heart connections, then they cannot be real for you. Love take a leap of faith. If you aren’t willing to risk yourself and learn from the experience, you aren’t going to feel deep love. It goes hand in hand.

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