Thanks to the fairy tales that we heard as little girls, many women are searching for their Prince Charming, their perfect match. In our hearts, we believe that there is one man for each of us — our soul mate. Well, ladies, listen up! In her book, The Soul Mate Myth, Jean Cirillo, PhD, offers a new perspective on finding love, one filled with realistic expectations and attainable possibilities. Through her three-step program, she teaches women how to overcome their fears and fantasies so they can see love with fresh eyes and an open heart.
We had the chance to interview Dr. Cirillo about her book and she shared many words of wisdom along the way:
Can you tell us about your program and how it works?
My program involves three basic steps. The first step focuses on examining your present situation to see where your fantasy expectations have gotten you. The next step is grieving for the mythic man that never existed, much as you would grieve the loss of a real relationship. And the final step involves reprogramming your brain and emotions to pursue a healthy, realistic relationship.
Why do you feel that finding “your perfect match” is a lie?
The idea that you can find your perfect match is a lie because, even if there was such a thing as your “twin flame,” where is the evidence that you could meet him in this lifetime? Why should he live in the same country, speak the same language or even be in a position to meet you? And even if the two of you did meet and hit it off, where is the evidence that you would continue to grow together, in the same direction, at the same rate? Clearly, there is none.
How and why do you think that fairy tales progressed from imaginary stories for little kids to something that grown-up women believe in?
Fairy tales would never be so popular if they only addressed the fantasies of little kids. Remember, they are written for children by adults, created from universal fantasies of a perfect life, ideal love and happily ever after.
How would someone rid themselves of unreasonable expectations that may prevent them from finding love? And which ones are most likely to get in the way?
The book takes one gently through the stages from ridding one’s self of unrealistic expectations toward replacing them with realistic ones. For example, a common unrealistic expectation is that one’s partner should enjoy many or all of the same activities. In truth, his need for sports and her need for shopping can easily be satisfied by other friends or family members.
As far as more difficult expectations, which usually center around characteristics such as financial status, physical traits or ethnic background, the book explores the gains and losses associated with holding onto these demands. Often, we find that they represent personal needs that have little to do with our partner and can be satisfied in other ways.
What are the top three things a person should look for when considering a man who is worth loving for a lifetime?
First, you should look for similar values and long-term goals. Do you and your partner share similar attitudes about family, children, religion, friends, fidelity, work, money, and so on? These basic attitudes need to be discussed, and any differences should be resolved before making a long-term commitment.
Next, you should consider how difficult times effect your romance. Have you been together when one of you was going through a crisis such as a job loss or illness? It is important to determine if he will be helpful in a bad situation or simply add more stress.
And finally, does your relationship have the capacity for forgiveness? Can you still love and respect one another even when you are angry?
Women can easily be blinded by their desperate desire for love. How can they ensure that they love and are loved for the right reasons?
Through years of clinical practice and life experience, I’ve found that if a man comes out positive on the above three questions, he is someone who loves you for who you really are and not because you fulfill some momentary need or fantasy. It means you have chosen wisely, from a clear mind and not a blurred fantasy.
Related: How to Dignify Your Relationship
In your experience, what is the hardest part of finding real love?
I am often asked why it is so hard to find real love. People seem so mystified by the issue when it pertains to love. Few of us ask why it’s so hard to find real money or a real house or a fulfilling career, for that matter. The obvious answer is that it takes time, effort and commitment to find anything highly desirable. Unfortunately, the fantasy Soul Mate Myth has caused people to believe that real love “just happens.”
Do you have any additional tips for our visitors?
First, just as real love requires work to get, it requires work to keep. Just as you work to advance your career or maintain your house, you must work to keep the love alive.
Second, other than yourself, your partner should be the most important person in your life. If you really feel this way, doing things for him should be pleasurable. After all, an investment in your partner is an investment in yourself.
Lastly, the romantic phase of your relationship — obsessive thoughts, constant sexual desire and so on — will naturally die down in about 18 months. We would all be exhausted if that didn’t happen! That does not mean you have fallen out of love. It is the deeper form of attachment that indicates that this man has gone from being Mr. Right Now to Mr. Right. And this Mr. Right exists in reality once you overcome The Soul Mate Myth.