Fishing for the Right Life Partner

ImageSetting out to find a life partner is like fishing. Fishermen have to know what kind of fish they are fishing for and where that type of fish is likely to be found. If they are after tuna, hopefully, you wouldn’t see them fishing in a river.  They have to know what kind of bait to use to entice the fish. They have to know their own abilities and have good skills in fishing. Knowing all this, they go to their favorite fishing place and throw in their line and wait. If they are lucky a fish shows interest. Skill is in the length of time and reel play needed to keep the fish interested and not bored. Hopefully, the fisherman gets his fish.

Okay, dating is not quite like fishing. There are some differences but the basics are the same. The person looking needs to know the type of person that holds their interest. Next, they have to know where to best find that type of person. The fisher of a life partner has to assess if they have the correct personal characteristics to attract this type of person.  They have to be confident that what they have to legitimately offer and be sincere in offering.  This is where the analogy stops.

People are not fish and the idea of baiting someone sounds horrid. However, I find using this fishing analogy works well in getting people to realize some of the behaviors they chose to find a mate are as wacky as fishing for tuna in a river. Two reasons for dating disasters and the destruction of the beginning relationships are: One or both people have minimal ideas on what they really want in a relationship. One or both people don’t know what their needs are and the ways they have learned to get those needs met.  One or both parties do not realize that everyone in the world processes and sees the world somewhat differently. When you add the hormonal component involved with sexual attraction and the chemical reaction we call falling in love, is it any wonder new relationships have a high turn-over rate?

To be a fisherman in good form and help prevent fishing disasters, it is best for the fisherman to know his/herself before those hormones kick in.  I’m going to review some ideas then look at an example.

Review: All choices in life revolve around the same basic questions and concerns. What is it I really want and need? What am I doing to get it?Is it working? If not, reassess what you are doing?

 Our choices must also include two very important pieces of information: ALL BEHAVIOR IS PURPOSEFUL (Everything you think, feel and do is for a purpose – always). THE ONLY PERSON YOU CAN CHANGE IS YOU.

All our behaviors are based on our needs. Everyone has the same needs, only in different degrees.  Universal needs are: Love and belonging (feeling connected to a bigger whole),                                             Power, Freedom, Fun, Survival,  Purpose in life (spiritual).

  How we get these needs met depends on several factors:  Our total knowledge (learning and experience), Our values. Our perceptions (how we choose to see the world around us).


Let’s look at Joe (not a real person) for an example of this in action.

Joe has a high NEED for LOVE and a low need for POWER. His goal (WANT) is to find someone to marry who will love him unconditionally the way he wants to love them.

Joe’s TOTAL KNOWLEDGE comes from:

His divorced parents:

Mom said. “Your father never loved me. I know this because he never helped me with the chores.”

Joe heard: to show a woman you love them, help with the chores.

Dad said. “We loved one another but she let herself go and well I have needs.  Your mom turned out to be a total dog. Son, marry a younger beautiful woman and you will always be content.”

Joe heard:  Stay in shape, dress sharp and marry a younger, beautiful woman to keep love alive.

Joe has read all about love and relationships in books and magazines and has learned:

Love takes a lot of work

There are stages of love in a relationship

Couples who make it, communicate well and have date nights

Money is the number one reason couples split up


Joe loves to listen to country music, watch TV and go to the movies. He has learned:

Relationships break up all the time

No matter what men do in a relationship, it’s usually wrong

Men have a very hard time staying with one woman

If you work hard enough you can get someone to fall in love with you

If someone steals your girl, you can work hard and win her back

Women want a tender man who is good in bed, has a good job, makes good money, is handsome, maybe a bit quirky and can take care of them

Romance and love hit fast and hard. Go with it.


Joe has friends. All of them are divorced and some remarried. He hears them say things like:

She left me for her tennis instructor.

My secretary is better in the sack.

She just doesn’t get me.

We grew apart.

She was a nagging bitch anyway.

 Joe hears:

Stay in shape or you’ll lose her to some athletic guy.

Don’t look at other women, it’s too tempting.

Keep an open communication so you don’t grow apart.

Remember there are stages of love, stick with it.

There are reasons people complain. Find out and correct problems if needed.

Now Joe is ready to find the girl of his dreams.  He is at an art gallery opening and spots the young and beautiful Sally.  He knows she is the one and there is no turning back. He can feel it. The fact he does not know her is of no consequence. He had everything he needs to make this work. So he thinks.


 Joe has not looked at the most important piece of information needed to make this relationship work. Sally has her own TOTAL KNOWLEDGE independent of Joe!  Because Joe decided, based on his knowledge, values and perceptions that they were destined to be together, he inadvertently placed his heart on the line.  He fell romantically in love and it ended up looking like this.

 Joe: Tries to be attentive.  Sally: Thinks he is smothering.

Joe: Brings her flowers and writes her romantic poetry. Sally: Thinks flowers are a waste of money and only for funerals or for saying I’m sorry. She hates poetry.

 Joe: Wants to spend intimate evenings at home watching TV together. Sally: Wants to belong to various up and coming professional and social groups. These keep her out of the house most nights.

Joe: Reminds her of his good, high paying job and income. But he doesn’t stop there. He also reminds her that he is there to take care of her.  Hinting she can stay home and take care of the kids when they come along.

Sally: Thinks he is a male chauvinist.  There is no way in hell she would consider staying home. She is one of the up and coming, not trying to gain a homemaker of the year award.

Who is in the wrong? Neither! Joe has a strong need for love and a low power need. Sally has a low need for love and a strong need for power.  The relationship fails and Joe is devastated. He has no clue why it did not work.

Because of Joe’s total knowledge and values, he chose to only see the things in his world that agreed with them. Those were his perceptions. It all went together and it never occurred to him Sally saw things differently.  Joe had TUNNEL VISION.

Joe’s tunnel vision prevented him from seeing Kelly at the gallery the night he fell in love with Sally.  Kelly had introduced herself to Joe but he hadn’t really seen her after seeing Sally. She was not as stunning in his eyes.

Kelly was looking for someone just like Joe to fall in love and get married.  She would have been thrilled with poetry, romance, nights home together and a long committed relationship with family. 

 Joe missed it! This was probably not the first or the last time Joe’s tunnel vision would blind him to getting his needs and wants met.

                                               FISHING LESSON FOR THE DAY


Know your needs and wants (the real ones, not the superficial ones).

Have a handle on how you are thinking, feeling, behaving and how you are screening your reality to get   those needs and wants met.

When you met someone REMEMBER – they have their own needs and wants. They have their own ways of thinking, feeling, behaving and screening their reality.

Slow down and reassess yourself and the situation often. If needed, make changes in your thinking, feeling or behaving.

** Now I know someone is going to ask, why would Sally continue to go out with Joe?

 Let’s look at Sally a little closer.

 Sally has a strong power need. Her goal (want) is to find a man with enough money, connections and good looks to wine/dine and help elevate her and her career. She wants to live the way her parents did without the commitment to marriage.

Sally’s parents are married. 

Mom says. “Your father and I love one another, I suppose. But he’s a lawyer. I’ve got the country club. Marry someone rich, someone who will get you into the upper crust of society.”
Sally heard: Men are your ticket to the rich and powerful of society. Love is not important, prestige is.

Dad says. “I’m a powerful attorney. I don’t have time for trivialities of marriage. I got married because it is what I was supposed to. It looks good for politics and moving ahead in life.”
Sally heard: Marriage if anything is for convenience and if you don’t have to, don’t do it.

 Sally does not like to read books on relationships. Occasionally she reads magazines on high fashion and celebrities.  She has learned:

The more men you have experience with the better

Men are a great spring board for a woman to succeed

Men can be thrown away when a better opportunity arises

Men’s feelings are not as deep or important as a woman’s

Women have been oppressed too long. It’s your turn, baby.

Sally does not watch TV. She listens to Indie and World music but never notices any relationship issues implied in them. If she goes to a movie, it is only to see an Indie film specific about world concerns and oppressed people getting ahead.  She has learned:

You have to be tough in this world

You are truly on your own

Make sacrifices to better yourself

Think global not home based


Sally’s friends have never married nor do they want to. They have all gone through many men all propelling them further in their own pursuits.  They all think their moms were naive and or dumb.

Sally hears:

Don’t get married

Date only men with money who can help propel your career

It’s all for me to help me so I can help the world

I’m not going to be a pasty fool like my mom.

Sally meets Joe. His money and continuous attempts to convince her of his great and powerful job tell her he meets her criteria. She can use this even if the rest of him is old fashioned and a bit of a bore. Only his old fashioned ways and smothering behaviors make him too much of a liability for her needs and wants. She dumps him for Kevin who has more of a power need similar to her own.

Sometimes the Joe’s do find the Kelly’s in the world and there are still problems that arise.  Why would this happen?

Remember Joe gives flowers and poetry to show love? It could be as easy as Kelly was raised that a man shows love by doing more family events and activities with kids and extended family. Only she never told him.  Joe thinks he is doing everything right to show his love.  In Kelly’s mind, she loves the flowers and poetry. But they are not demonstrating the deep love she needs from him. Kelly needs for Joe to volunteer to do things with the family.

If both of them know what their needs and wants are AND WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE (What behaviors a person would see as testimony of meeting that need or desire. i.e. flowers mean I love you vs. time spent with family means I love you). The next step is to TALK about it. Neither of these people is more right or wrong, only different!

Once they each have more information they can chose to change their behaviors or keep things the way they are accepting the possible unhappy or disastrous results.

So, if you are having relationship issues or are fishing for that special someone –

                                               GIVE YOURSELF A GIFT

Know your real true wants and needs

Know what they look like in action

Remember everyone is different

Give yourself time to explore and grow

Get more information if things are not making sense or you feel out of balance

Self evaluate often

Communicate always

Remember you can only change you. You are ultimately responsible for you, your feelings, thinking and behaviors. Happy fishing!


About Debbie Hill,

Wellness Counselor, Author, Photographer, Interested in living a balanced, compassion centered life, travel, spiritual/supernatural issues, history, all things Disney. If that's not eclectic, I don't know what is.

Posted on March 26, 2013, in Relationships, The Therapist is in and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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