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Looking for Love: Understanding What You Need

Looking for love and finding frustration instead? Follow these five steps to increase your chances of finding lasting happiness.

2. Understand Your Emotional Needs

While core values may form the foundation of who we are, our emotional needs often define the finer points of our relationships. Psychologist Dennis Sugrue says we must acknowledge those emotional needs before we can find someone who can fill them.

"A need for intimacy, for sexual gratification and satisfaction, a need to be honored and understood and even accepted by our partner, these are all important aspects of who we are. Each of us has our own way in which these needs must be met in order to feel happy and secure" says Sugrue , an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and co-author of Sex Matters for Women.

Understanding what fulfillment means to you, he says, is paramount to finding a partner with whom you can feel satisfied and happy.

The one caveat: Trouble comes when we look for a partner to fulfill us in ways that, ultimately, we can only fulfill ourselves.

"If you are looking to a partner to make you feel worthwhile, to make you feel happy, to rescue you from a bored or unhappy life, if you are seeking someone to make you feel complete or whole -- well then you have some work to do, because these are needs that are never going to be met by any one other than yourself," says Sugrue. To put those demands on someone else is to set up yourself -- and the relationship -- for failure.

3. Identify Your Love Pattern

So how do we go about finding the kind of person who can meet our emotional needs and share our core values? Experts say we should look for clues in the good relationships we already have with friends and family members.

"Think about relationships you've had -- or currently have -- that bring out the best in you," says psychologist Dennis Lowe, PhD, founding director of the Center for the Family at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and a professor of psychology."Think about the relationships in which you have felt you could grow and the ones that left you feeling fulfilled. Not just romantic relationships, but any relationships with family and with friends."

Also important: Think about the people who make you feel safe and secure, the people with whom you can be yourself. Eventually, he says, a pattern of personality traits will begin to emerge. Not coincidentally, these will be the same traits that will serve you best in a romantic partner.

"You are looking for not only character traits, but also ways of relating to you, and you to them. Look for what has worked in previous relationships," Lowe tells WebMD.

White agrees: "In the end, it's often the people around whom you feel the most comfortable that possess the kind of traits you need for a lasting partnership."

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