The 3 Reasons We Struggle in Relationships — and How to Stop

When I first started writing about dating and relationships — for Playboy, The New York Times, The LA Times, Details, Marie Claire, Vice, Salon and The Huffington Post — and then giving advice on The Today Show, The Talk, The Insider, Showbiz Tonight, The CBS Morning Show and numerous shows on Fox News, VH1, MTV and E, I felt like a fraud.

I had, after all, screwed up every relationship I’d ever been in.

I was the real-life version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

I had to get out of my feeling-like-a-fraud-ness — and pronto.

And so I took what I heard from the hundreds of thousands of people asking for relationship advice and combined it with Buddhist, Vedic and recovery principles I started studying. Through that, I learned that my struggles were universal…that those of us who had relationship issues were going through the same shit.

It all boiled down to three main reasons.

Reason 1: We Weren’t Given Healthy Relationship Models

I don’t know about you but my early-life modeling wasn’t great. All I could conclude from what I observed in my own family and the families I was around was that the last thing anyone should ever want would be a relationship.

I’ve spoken to thousands of people about their relationships and can think of maybe three of them who felt they witnessed healthy relationships in their own family.

So get over it. I had to. Yes, it sucks. We should have had better models. But we didn’t and it’s too late to change it. So let’s go out and create our own.

Reason 2: We Beat Ourselves Up for Learning Necessary Lessons

This should be obvious but clearly it’s not: we can only learn how to do something by doing it.

And yet, with relationships, we don’t take our efforts and stumbles as evidence that we are learning. We take it as evidence that we’re fucked.

We didn’t beat ourselves up for not knowing how to drive when we were learning. Instead, we let the driver’s ed teacher or parent say, “Turn on the ignition and hit the gas.” We didn’t wrap up day one or day two and tell ourselves we’d screwed up royally, that there was something very wrong with us, and we’d surely never learn to drive. We learned, day by day, until we could do it so well that most of us can scroll Facebook and do it at the same time.

When it comes to relationships, however, most of us haven’t been so kind to ourselves. Here’s where we’ve taken every potential mistake we’ve ever made and blown it up billboard size before blasting it into our synapses.

So forgive yourself for your past so-called mistakes. And while you’re forgiving yourself, go ahead and change the word “mistake” to “lesson.”

Reason 3: We’ve Spent Our Time Focusing on What We Think Other People Want Us to Be

Many of us have spent too much of our romantic lives playing mind-reader. We’ve assessed a person, decided what we thought they wanted and bent ourselves into Gumby like shapes trying to be what we thought they wanted us to be (if you’re too young to know who Gumby is, you may be too young to be reading this post).

There are two problems with this habit. One, most of us are terrible mind readers. Let’s leave that work to the psychics. But two, ironically, the more we try to be what we think someone else wants us to be, the more likely that person is to retreat. People can sense when we’re not being true to ourselves…and it’s a repellant. In short, people pleasers rarely please people.

But even more important than that is the fact that when we’re bending ourselves, Gumby-like, into different shapes trying to be what we think is loveable, we’re completely abandoning ourselves.

There are always going to be people who are smarter, more attractive and more successful than us. But we’re the only ones who can be us. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Why not embrace and be you? You’re fucking awesome.

Who Am I to Be Claiming I Have the Answer?

If you’re like, “Who does this woman think she is, telling me she knows the reasons I’ve struggled in relationships when she’s not even a therapist?” my response is: you’re both wrong and right.

You’re right because hell, no, I’m not a therapist.

You’re wrong because I’m not telling anyone the secret to finding the love of their life. I’m explaining the steps I’ve taken to go on a journey from self-hatred to self-love, which has in turn led to love.

And now I’ve put together everything I’ve learned by combining the spiritual principles I’ve studied with the stories I’ve heard from thousands of people about their relationship troubles.

I’m going to be revealing them during a free webinar I put together. This master class, How to Fall in Love: 8 Steps to Your Dream Relationship, will be on Sunday, February 11th at 5 pm PST/8 pm EST (just in time to get the self-love going for Hallmark’s favorite holiday!)

In under an hour, I’ll be guiding people through the 8 steps to self-love. They’re remarkably simple, remarkably counter-intuitive and they work. I’m living proof — as are the thousands of people I’ve counseled.

They’ll work on you, too — if you let them.



NY Times bestselling author of 8 books, publisher, TV/TED talker. Want to discover your book in a sentence? Go to:

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Anna David

NY Times bestselling author of 8 books, publisher, TV/TED talker. Want to discover your book in a sentence? Go to: