The Barrier: Like most of the population, you grew up in a dysfunctional family. And the love portrayed in the movies, on TV, and in co-dependent “I’ll die without you” songs doesn’t help. You’re an expert at chaotic, painful relationships but don’t have a clue what a healthy relationship even looks like, let alone how to cultivate one. A hard worker and diligent student, you long to do dating and relationships better—if only you knew where to begin.
Relationship Rx: Get to work with the DIY project of building your own template. Find a dating mentor—a friend, coach, or therapist who is in a healthy relationship or knows what one looks like. Ask lots of questions and for advice about how to handle dating situations you find yourself in. Learn about the kinds of behaviors that are helpful to intimacy and those that are harmful. Read books on the subject to expand your ideas about what is possible in a relationship. There are a lot of dating and relationship books that perpetuate dysfunction so look for ones that promote relating mindfully instead, like If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path. With the new knowledge you garner, you’ll be able to let go of unhealthy patterns as you piece together your very own template.