by Michelle Mitcham
For New Pittsburgh Courier

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places? Have you loved in the past, but been hurt so you’re carrying emotional baggage with you into every new relationship? Do you have a checklist for the “ideal mate” and beginning to think he/she doesn’t exist? Are you engaging in behaviors that are just not attractive to your mate? To begin figuring out what is preventing you from finding or maintaining the “Right Relationship” you must first look inward. Some people look for their mate to “complete” them. Well, the fact of the matter is that you must love yourself and “be complete and stand on your own two feet” prior to finding the Mr. or Ms. “Right.” Make no mistake, it starts with you and how you “choose” to interact and “be” in a relationship; the way you perceive yourself and others.

Some of us have a list of “Never this, Never that” in search of Mr. or Ms. “Right.” Others have an invisible knapsack of hurt, pain, grief, mis-trust and suspicion, which gets carried around as a burden that prevents authentic love, sharing and connection with others. One must “let go” of the pain, the fear, the past. Sometimes, we put invisible shackles on our hearts and minds and allow a past hurt or disappointment to hold our hearts hostage and limit the way we love and live; perhaps, missing out on great experiences. Some have “unfinished business” from their family of origin, allowing unhealthy behaviors or negative emotions to creep into current relationships, instead of turning their “scars into stars” and reconciling the past.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant,” so the Bible says.

To truly love, is to let go of unreasonable parameters, insecurities, bargaining, games and contingencies, and drama-loving freely and un-conditionally, which is empowering. Find your voice. Transform yourself from the inside out. Illuminate your heart, mind and spirit. Empower yourself to love. You deserve it.

How to get “The Right Relationship” Checklist:

Loving you first. Working on you in ways to increase your self-esteem and nurture a positive self-concept so that you feel complete; relationship with self.

Empowering yourself. Defining who you are by your standards and taking the steps needed to self-actualize into the best person that you can be. This may include personal, spiritual, physical, educational, or professional goals. Remember that you have to be complete and step to the table as “whole.” When both people have something to offer, that is attractive. A “10” does not want to be with a “6.”

Reflect on the things you want in a relationship, then look within and do the work.

Reflect on Respect; you must respect yourself and your potential significant other.

Let go of the past for a healthy relationship; for the right relationship, remember—your past relationships and heartache have no place in the present. Talk to a friend or even a professional counselor if you are stuck.

Accept him/her as they are….Do not enter into a relationship with the ulterior motive of “molding” your mate; zebras don’t change their stripes. Allow them to “be” and “relate” to the world as their authentic, true self.

Choose love starting with yourself and reflect this in your relationship.

Figure out your operational definition of love. What does it look like? How does it feel? How will you know when you see it?

Communicate authentically. No one has a “crystal ball” and can “read your mind.” Say no to fear and yes to love.

(Michelle Mitcham, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Counselor Education at the University of South Florida. Follow her on, or

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