Inspired living

How to overcome barriers to finding love

A couple at sunset

Credit: iStock

First of all, I’ve surprised myself. I never thought I would write about a television show. Lesson 1 (for me): never say never.

I’ve been around a lot of conversations about the show Married at First Sight recently. I think we’ve found it so intriguing because it shows us the stages of a relationship in a microcosm and we can relate to this process of finding love. We experience the relationship as it begins, the flutters, the chemistry (or not); then the progress, surprises and disappointments, uncovering more of who they are as individuals and as a couple; and then the decision: happily ever after … or not.

It made me reflect on my own life, the people I’ve met and the challenges I’ve seen around finding a relationship that works and lasts. Here are some ideas to overcome the barriers that can hold you back from finding love.

 1. Dump the need for chemistry and of being ‘swept away’

Christie and Mark show us that love and connection can happen, despite at first not being swept away or feeling amazing chemistry or attraction. This is such a great lesson. Did you see Christie’s face when she first saw Mark on the ‘wedding day’? Christie was so disappointed because he was not her kind of person and she felt no attraction. A month later, she was surprised by how their relationship had developed into intense attraction and what looked suspiciously like love.

I remember a while ago talking to a colleague who had just been on a first date. Her first comment to me was “he was lovely and we had a great time but I wasn’t swept away”. From her perspective, that was the end of it.

Why do we feel the need to be swept away, to have an immediate attraction in order to be willing to consider a person as a potential partner? We saw with Simone and Xavier initial crazy chemistry and connection yet, at the end of it, their relationship ended in disappointment.

Do you have any underlying messages or preconceived ideas that are stopping you from being open to people that you meet? It can be useful to sit in silence and ask yourself, How open am I to others? How open am I to love? How willing am I to be vulnerable, to risk being hurt? Sometimes, we may not even be aware of what is holding us back.

Do you have any underlying messages or preconceived ideas that are stopping you from being open to others?

I’ve been on an ongoing journey of learning about myself and am often surprised by what I uncover through exploration and reflection. If you discover that you do have some negative messages that you’re repeating to yourself about relationships, therapy or coaching can help. Affirmations, positive messages that reinforce what it is you want to create or develop in your life, can also be really useful. Perhaps try an affirmation like, “I am open to love”, or some other positive message that reinforces what it is you want for your life.

 2. Be prepared to fall in love with the inside first

Part of opening up to love is being willing and open to re-evaluating your definition of the kind of person you are looking for. Some good questions to encourage yourself to be open could be: Do I like the person? Do I feel comfortable with them? Do we laugh together? Do we have good conversations? If your answers are yes, yes, yes and yes, it could be promising. It is possible to find the attraction through establishing a foundation of friendship and trust and falling in love with the inside first. I’ve experienced this myself. Relationships that develop in this way can be amazing too. It is surprising how attractive someone becomes as you begin to like and love them more. Ask Christie!

3. Look for the ‘fit’

What was great about Married at First Sight was having experts match up people who would normally have never met or been open to each other. If you’ve been looking for a relationship for a long time and can’t seem to find ‘the one’, you might actually be looking for the wrong person. It can be so hard though, working out who the right kind of person is and overcoming patterns that might be holding you back from finding love. While you may not have a cast of experts to choose the right person for you, it is possible to be your own expert with some help and focus.

The first step is to try and be as honest with yourself as possible. Make a list of past relationships and what worked and what didn’t. Talk to trusted friends and family. Get their feedback about your personality, who they think would suit you and their perceptions of what hasn’t worked in the past. This can then help you come up with your focus list: the qualities you will look for in a partner. Remember, these are personal qualities, like kind-hearted, easy going, fun … not tall, dark and handsome! Your focus is on identifying the kind of person that would be your ‘fit’ for your future.

Erin struggled to find someone to have a relationship with, who could see beyond her defences. Enter Bryce …

Erin and Bryce are a great example of what seems to be a ‘fit’, two people who at least at this stage appear to bring out the best in each other. Erin struggled to find someone to have a relationship with, who could see beyond her defences. Enter Bryce … He made her feel calm and was patient and open, bringing out the best in her. It was obvious that their personalities worked. A match made in heaven? We’ll see, but finding that ‘fit’ is a great start to any relationship.

4. Forget about the happy ending and riding off into the sunset

With Facebook posts declaring love and happiness, romantic movies showing us how love is meant to be and the fairy tales that end with ‘happily ever after’, we can get trapped in the feeling that, if it’s not perfection, it’s not right. In reality, if you’re waiting to go riding off into the sunset with your handsome prince or princess, you will be disappointed. At some point, you’ll reach that castle and you’ll have to deal with the ups and downs that come with being a human being, living life.

However, I do believe there is a happy ending we can all aspire to, although it’s a bit less fairy-tale-like. It’s finding a relationship where you have more happy times than not, where you deal with life’s challenges together rather than separately and you experience a deepening of love and understanding over time. It’s not easy to change, but it is possible. With awareness, commitment and action, you can overcome the barriers holding you back from finding the love that is right for you.

You can do it.  Lead Your Own Change.



Tulsi van de Graaff is a former lawyer with a psychology background as well as an experienced management consultant, workplace trainer, facilitator, presenter and coach. She is the founder of Lead Your Own Change and for over 7 years has been working with individuals, teams and organisations to solve their communication and conflict challenges. She also helps develop emotional intelligence and resilience, create positive personal and cultural change, manage change and uncertainty and enhance relationships and communication. Tulsi runs public workshops including Teen Talk: a communication workshop for mums and teen/tween daughters, Couple Talk, to enhance couple communication and Beyond Breakup, for people healing after a break up.

Tulsi is a volunteer facilitator and presenter for Dress for Success Sydney (DFSS). At DFSS, she runs workshops for women in need, including Finding Your Vision and Trusting in Your Ability as well as coaching training for DFSS volunteer coaches.

For more information check out Tulsi's website, www.leadyourownchange.com, her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LeadYourOwnChange/ or email Tulsi at Tulsi@leadyourownchange.com