Next week I am offering a lunch-and-learn called "Successfully Single: In and out of relationships", but I think I should have titled it "Attractiveness and Self-investment". I am not sure how many people want to be "successfully single", particularly this month when our collective attention is focused on love and romance. So, in this blog, I am going to go at this topic from another angle...how do we increase our attractiveness/charisma/draw towards friends, lovers, and potential lovers...how do we become the kind of person whom others (who know us and who don't) want to be around?
Figuring out how to attract people who don't know us--although not easy--is probably more familiar. In fact, I have given away the big reveal in the title. I believe it is about investing in yourself. Learning new things. Doing things on your own that you can share with others. Asking open-ended questions. Being a good listener. When you like yourself, when you have interests to share, and when you care about other people, other people are drawn to you.
But what about continuing to attract people with whom we are already in relationship, romantic or otherwise? Whether we call it "self-investment" or "successfully single: IN a relationship", the answer here is the same. Research demonstrates that one of the best things you can do for your relationship is to cultivate those aspects of yourself that are separate from your partner. It's called "self-actualization theory" and, in summary, it says that we all want to grow and develop. One of the best things about a new relationship is the rapid growth that occurs as we integrate that new person (and their experiences and history) into our lives. A great way to rejuvenate an on-going relationship is to continue to bring new (and separate experiences) to that relationship.
Not only that, but by maintaining some of the separateness that many of us throw out the window when we officially "partner" with someone else, we are not only investing in ourselves, we are leaving the necessary space, mystery, and separateness that we need for the erotic components of our relationships to flourish. Marriage therapist, Esther Perel, in her book Mating in Captivity, explores this idea in depth.
So it turns out that being attractive to others, attractive to your partner, single in a relationship, or single out of a relationship, basically start in the same place...with you!