The Path toward Happy Relationships: Dating while remaining sane

Like a wildfire the desire to meet my mate spread throughout my entire being, filling my body, mind, and soul with the hot and urgent energy, propelling me to act, to do something, to do anything! These were my younger days of singlehood, before I my venture into psychotherapy and couples counseling. Being single felt like a handicap, a condition I couldn’t wait to shake off, a pain of my existence. Not only did it feel wrong to be single, it felt incriminating. I envied all the happy couples I would see everywhere I looked. I wanted to be part of the couples club.


What the hell is wrong with me? – I would ponder. Am I not handsome, athletic, interesting, charming, you-fill-the-blank enough to score a date worth mentioning? How come “everyone else” is coupled and in a happy relationships? Is it just not meant to be and I should get used to the empty apartment, dinners alone, and long showers? Quite frankly, many times these moments of contemplation, or desperation, were deeply painful, and pain can push us to do all kind of dumb things.


One extreme is the “party hurricane,” hopping from club to bar to club in a drunk haze, hoping to stumble across that someone who is about to color our existence in the bright and sunny colors of love.  Long before I opened my psychotherapy practice in Valencia and Beverly Hills, I admit – that was me. Some of these nights were fun, especially the nights when I did stumble on someone, who would usually last until the dawn, at which point the lifting veil of the booze and the realization I am alone again made the fun of last night turn into a bitterness of the morning after.


The other extreme is to say “Fuck it!” and commit yourself to the solitude. I, as you have guess, have been there as well. Swinging with the pendulum from one extreme to another I found it especially challenging to find the balanced center and to keep my sanity during these years. These are the years of emotional rollercoaster, and many times outright pain, that blessed me with the wisdom I am about to share – the methodology I now use as a psychologist in my Valencia and Beverly Hills psychotherapy practices specializing in marriage counseling,  and couples counseling.


So you are single on your path toward the wonderful loving intimate relationships you absolutely deserve. How can you make this path to the “happily ever after” enjoyable and fun, while helping yourself make the best choice for the future amazing relationship? How can you do the dating right?


Psychotherapist Tip 1: Love yourself first!

All the couples that graduated my marriage counseling and couples counseling and now share incredibly wonderful relationships have one thing in common: their relationships are a union of two wholesome self-actualizing and self-aware individuals.


As psychologist, I recommend that you accept who you are, enjoy your own company, learn more about yourself, and find many ways to enrich your own experience while kicking it with yourself. The more pleasant and enjoyable you find your own company, the less likely will you be experiencing the need and urgency of finding someone right now.


I know it might sound like a dead bit cliché, and I wish I could emphasize enough the truth and value of this principle. Let me put it differently for you: desperation and neediness are like a bad breath – they are sure to drive away all of your potential lovers faster than a charging Bugatti, which has 0-60 mph of the impressive 2.4 sec. I just felt like throwing it in there.


Self-love and self-appreciation are the keys to remaining balanced and standing your ground in the changing tides of dating. As a psychotherapist let me tell you – not only will it help you maintain a broader perspective and see a bigger picture of your past, present, and future, it will do much more than that. Your own balanced demeanor and grounded energy will also draw balanced and grounded people to you, which will open many more doors for a potential romance. Self-appreciation is an art and some are better at it than others.


In my psychotherapy work, I often point out that if self-appreciation and self-love do not come naturally to you, and you are used to applying the “critical eye” to yourself, seeing the flaws rather than the beauty, you are probably in a good company of many many others. Changing it is both, simple and profound. Here is how: every flaw you accuse yourself of possessing, is also an asset. It might take a minute sometimes to figure out how exactly it is an asset, and I assure you – it is. In case there is no way you can see it as a potential asset, it might be valuable because it is a challenge to be mastered. Something that you might have regarded as a flaw could be there to propel you into action and help you take charge of your life.


Let’s use a common example of being overweight. This is not a problem, unless you see it as being an obstacle on your way to achieving your goals. In case it is an obstacle for you, it presents you with a valuable opportunity to learn about your body, become more knowledgeable about health and fitness, look into your emotional needs, and apply these principles to transform your body and your life.  Being able to see the transformation in action and to know that you are an active force behind this transformation is a profoundly empowering experience. In marriage counseling and couples counseling process many times couples are amazed with themselves and their own transformation.


Self-appreciation is a huge topic which I do not intend to cover in detail now, and the take home message is simple – find a way to appreciate and love yourself. Good things will happen when you do.


Psychotherapist Tip 2: Channel the sexual energy into creative endeavors.

Not being in a relationship sometimes means not having a satisfying outlet for sexual expression. One-nighters, casual sex, friends with benefits, and fuck-buddies are less than satisfying options for some of us. Nevertheless, the sex-drive is a very powerful energy in our body. We all know the feeling of the sexual charge in our belly. The greater the accumulated energy, the more urgently it demands expression.


In marriage counseling couples at times share that self-pleasure is a viable option. Actually, this is an important way to learn about your body, to get and stay in touch with your sensual nature, and relieve the tension at times when it is too intense.


Additional way to use the sexual charge is to express it through creative entrepreneur endeavors. Both sexual force and creative force of our being is essentially the same basic and powerful life force streaming through us. The difference is only in expression. Limited sexual opportunities could be a blessing in disguise, allowing you the expansion of creative opportunities and freeing the energy to be applied in your career, business, personal growth, education, and art. What makes people interesting is their interest in interesting things. Find things that float your boat. If you are an entrepreneur, put your energy in the projects you want to see flourish. As a person of science and knowledge, you can use the energy to deepen your knowledge and understanding of your field. As an artist, this sexual energy can be expressed in you art. You get the point. Find a creative outlet that is enjoyable and profitable for you!


Psychotherapist Tip 3: Deepen your friendships.

This far we talked about the internal work – working on yourself. Much more will be said about it in my upcoming couples counseling and marriage counseling articles – stay tuned. Being single provides you with yet another wonderful opportunity. It allows you to focus on your friends, deepen existing friendships, and establish new ones. In the increasingly hectic post-modern era true friendships are weighed in gold. Having strong and lasting friendships fulfill our basic human needs of being connected, appreciated and loved for who we are.


Friends are the ones who make any new place on the globe feel like home. Friends fulfill many emotional and social needs our current or future partner might not be fully equipped to fulfill. After all, our lover, partner, or spouse is one person. In Beverly Hills and Valencia psychotherapy clinics I hear some clients express disappointment that their spouse cannot fulfill all of their needs. Well, our partner is one single person, and there is a limit to how many of our needs one single person can fulfill. Of course, the more the merrier, and ultimately, to express all of the different aspects of yourself you will probably need more than one person to interact with. This is where your friends come in, taking pressure of your partner, and allowing you to have a fuller life experience. An old Russian proverb states: You can do without 100 bucks, if you have 100 friends (free translation).


To summarize, accepting and loving yourself for who you truly are, re-channeling your sexual energy, and deepening your friendships will do much good for you. You might find that being single is a powerful personal growth experience that transforms you into stronger, wiser, empowered, and overall better you. And while doing this, one morning you might wake up next to the person the sight of whom will make you smile and realize – single no more.


Dr. Harel Papikian
Relationship Empowerment

9300 Wilshire Blvd. #306
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

25350 Magic Mountain Parkway #170
Valencia, CA 91355


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