Get help from our network of more than 300 experts on changes big and small, personal and professional.
Dr. John Gray on New Relationships
John Gray, Ph.D., knows a thing or two about relationships—he only wrote the bestselling relationship book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. He has also written 14 other relationship books—all bestsellers—and has appeared on “Oprah,” “The Today Show” and “Larry King,” to name a few television programs. Gray took some time to share his keys to the first 30 days of finding a new relationship.
When people look for new relationships, what are some common mistakes?
The biggest mistake people make is they look for the perfect person instead of a series of positive dating experiences. When you’re looking for the right person, you may be overly critical or you may act desperate—both behaviors can unknowingly push someone away. Think of it this way: If you’re visiting a friend’s house for fun, you enjoy how beautiful his or her home is. But if you’re thinking about buying your friend’s house, you’re suddenly looking at it in a different light—you’re peering underneath things and looking in corners, and judgments and criticisms come up. If finding a good relationship is your goal, don’t think in terms of finding the perfect person or buying the house. Think about creating a series of positive dating experiences and have fun visiting.
What are some things people can do to find a new relationship?
It’s important that you take risks. If you’re going to get in the water, get out there and start swimming. E-dating is a really easy way to begin; there are many wonderful e-dating sites. Obviously, go slow and be careful, but e-dating does allow you to go ahead and see who’s out there.
Another thing to do is put yourself in situations in which you can create new patterns in your life and try things you wouldn’t normally be interested in. Oftentimes married couples who get along quite well have different interests. Try something new—join a club that has an activity that might be different for you. New and different experiences bring out new and different parts of us, which makes us very interesting to others.
Another major place to meet new people is to meet in a spiritual community, for those who are so inclined. Or you can at least join some kind of group where you share the same values as everyone else. If you’re political, get involved with that. If you have children, get involved in their activities at school, like fundraisers or celebrations. Get out and get involved and meet people. You have to expose yourself to new experiences because you won’t meet anyone new if you stick to your same old routine.
Does positive thinking make a difference?
Visualization is a wonderful thing to do. See yourself having fun on a good date. Imagine being in an ideal relationship and don’t be concerned about how you’re going to get there. Imagine being in that relationship and how that makes you feel. Consistently exploring the feeling of “I’m loved, I’m happy, I’m confident” makes you more of a magnet to attract someone.
Review your previous relationships and explore what lessons you’ve learned. People don’t know why a relationship ended, so a good review helps you to recognize the simple mistakes you’ve made and encourages you to have a better relationship next time.
And while you’re in the dating process, there is a positive way of looking at each date: You’re clearly creating a series of positive experiences linked to recognizing what you’re looking for. Again, it’s kind of like house shopping. You can say, “I’d rather have a kitchen here; This is the kind of bathroom I’d like,” or whatever. Have a fun time and become more aware of what you want in a relationship so when the right person comes along, you will be able to clearly recognize him or her.
How should people behave during the first 30 days of finding a new relationship?
Continue to be persistent, confident and self-assured. Those are the key ingredients. You also want to be accepting. You can be more accepting if you’re not expecting to find the right person right away. It may happen, but if it doesn’t, you won’t feel disappointed in yourself or in the process. Be realistic in your expectations.
How can people keep things in perspective?
The most important thing to remember is that the first 30 days begin a journey in the right direction. Look to create positive dating experiences by having realistic expectations. Practice being confident and assured. Practice taking risks, planning dates and trying out new parts of your personality.
Why is finding a new relationship worth it?
At a certain point in our lives, when we experience a degree of fulfillment, as our self-esteem grows and our inner fulfillment increases, it comes to a stop unless we’re able to share that fulfillment with others. You can have all things in life and achieve all your goals, but success comes from sharing ourselves with another person. Without that, growth is restricted and success isn’t as fulfilling.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
Good endings are good beginnings. At times of change, we always need to look at what was good about the door we’re closing. What did we learn? How did we grow? How did we benefit? If we’re trying to run away from our past, we recreate the past again and again. If we’re grateful for our past, we’re prepared to move on. Our past should always be the foundation for taking the next step of change and growth. Getting to that point sometimes takes soul searching to explore what we’ve learned, to forgive and to appreciate what we’ve received.
The best thing about change is…
…it will always bring us more—more success, more opportunities to receive and give. And change is inevitable, so we’re going with the flow.
What is the best change you have ever made?
The best change I made was marrying my wife, Bonnie, and having a family. I had achieved success in my life, but without sharing it with my family, it wasn’t as fulfilling. Having a home life made success greater than I’d ever imagined.
For more information on Dr. John Gray, visit www.marsvenus.com.