Falling in love is one of the most universally shared human desires. It doesn’t matter who someone is, or where they’re from, deep down inside there’s a good chance that within their lifetime, each person hopes to meet a romantic partner who they can commit to, and settle down with till the end. Love is a wonderful thing when people find it. However, the road to lasting committed relationships isn’t always free of hurdles. In fact, one of the most universally shared human frustrations is just how complicated it is to form enduring romantic bonds with significant others.

Take off the Rose-Colored Glasses:

A major reasons why finding love is so difficult is because of unrealistic expectations. Social upbringing conditions a substantial number of people to place the concept of love, and marriage in particular, on a lofty pedestal. We expect love to cure sadness, even though romantic relationships inherently shed light on personal insecurities. We expect to live happily ever after just because someone put a ring on it, even though marriages can only survive through constant work and compromise. Expecting to magically acquire happiness just because you’ve fallen in love is one of the easiest ways to become jaded.

So what’s the answer?

If you truly want to find someone to share the rest of your life with as a lover, or a spouse, it’s important to identify and abandon every selfish or unrealistic fantasy you have about how an ideal romance should be. Stop expecting love to be a miraculous cure for misery, and take responsibility for your own happiness. Stop entering relationships expecting utopia, when you know perfectly well that life and love have their ups and downs. If you’re one of the many people who knows how tricky it can be to figure out the mysteries of love, here are five critical mindsets to embrace in order to help build strong, committed, romantic, relationships:

1.       Let go of the Fairytales: Trying to live up to cultural stereotypes about love can leave you stuck in delusion and denial. Always live in your truth, and find a partner who is capable of living in theirs, and accepting yours.

2.       Embrace your Self-Worth: It’s impossible to receive or appreciate love from others until you truly love yourself. Falling in love if you have low self-esteem only pushes you into a state of emotional dependence.

3.       Keep an Open Mind: Variety is the spice of life, so don’t confine yourself to relationships with a specific “type” of partner. Being flexible about the personalities you connect with can end up enriching your love life in surprising ways.

4.       Make your Standards Known: If you know for a fact that you want to enter into a committed relationship with a partner, avoid dating people who aren’t interested in settling down. Like-mindedness about commitment is essential to the strength of a relationship.

5.       Expect to Work for What you Want: Don’t allow yourself to become obsessed with the honeymoon stage of love. When reality sets in, each partner in a relationship has a part to play in order to keep the spark alive.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with falling in love, but it’s important not to lose oneself in the process of looking for love. The relationships we enter into should complement our happiness rather than define whether or not we are happy. This all starts with cultivating the right attitude about what to expect out of romantic relationships. Always remember to be realistic, respect yourself, and make an effort to make things work once you find the right person to be with.