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How to Be (Not Find) the Right Person

My childhood fairy tale was to grow up, fall in love, then get married and live happily ever after.  I believed there was that perfect someone out there just for me, and I just needed to find her to make my fairy tale come true.

Alas, as I grew up, I realized that my “happily ever after” was more of a fairy tale than a reality. After several failed marriages where I was sure that I had found my perfect soul mate, I began to realize that perhaps at least part of the problem was not with them, but with me.

So I now put more energy into being the right person than into finding the right person. And it has worked. I have been happily married to my wife Daveen for 35 years.

How do you seek to “be” the right person in your relationship? Here are my 6 tips:

1. Be authentic. While it’s certainly okay to want to make a good first impression, it’s important not to misrepresent yourself. I don’t pretend that I like to travel if what I really want at the end of the day is to fall asleep in my own bed, watching television.

2. Recognize that you are not the right person for everyone. While I don’t believe that there’s only one perfect person out there for each of us, I know for a fact that there are plenty of people that aren’t right for each other. Pine trees and redwoods just don’t seem to go together.

3. Be clear up front. Thirty-five years ago, before my wife and I were married, I asked her if she wanted to continue working. Either way was fine with me, and she said that she didn’t. I have a friend, however, who told me that when he and his bride returned from their honeymoon she announced, to his surprise, “I quit my job and expect you to support us.” The problem was that he needed two more years to complete law school. They were not exactly compatible.

4. Practice the art of compromise (with a smile).  I know that my wife does not find me to be perfect, nor do I expect her to be. We are not able to provide each other with everything we want, and we’ve learned over the years to compromise with each other…and do it with a smile.

5. Look at your relationship through a telescope. Try to look at the positives in your relationship through the magnifying end of the telescope and the negatives through the opposite end.

6. Maintain interests and friendships outside your relationship. Few people do well together 24/7, even on the beach in Hawaii, and by having outside interests and friendly relationships you remove unnecessary pressure from each of you to be everything for one another every moment of every day.

Each of us needs a dream to give our lives direction and meaning. Each of us should seek not only to find the right person, but also to be the right person, and people toolshelp the dreams you each have to come true.

ALAN FOX is the author of The New York Times bestseller PEOPLE TOOLS: 54 Strategies for Building Relationships, Creating Joy, and Embracing Prosperity.  Visit www.peopletoolsbook.com