Our need for love is present from our time in the womb; our capacity for healthy growth and development (physical, mental and emotional) depends on it. We are born with both a predisposition to give and a longing to receive love, with our capacity to effectively do either relying on the other being fulfilled.

So if we all have the capacity to love, and we all need love, why is love so hard to find? The conventional response to this question is that love—true, real love—is rare, and that finding it is a matter of luck, aligned stars and divine intervention. But the truth is a lot simpler: We’re not actually looking for it.

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I repeat: Most people, most of the time, are not looking for love—even when we are desperate to find it. Love—true love, the kind that nurtures relationships and the people committed to them—is a very specific thing, defined by respect, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, fidelity and safety. These are what we call healthy relationship sustainers in Loving In The Grown Zonethe “lovers manual” co-authored by me and my wife Zara D. Green.

However, these are not the things we are taught to look for in our search for love. Instead, in our search for authentic, lasting love, we are taught to look for:

Good looks: The most physically attractive person you can find.

Good living: Someone willing and able to share the lifestyle that you have or aspire to.

Good sex: Someone who fulfills all of your erotic fantasies and sexual needs.

Good money: Someone with financial means and earning potential.

Good status: Someone who will bring you popularity and respect by association.

Good religion: Someone who worships the same God, and in the same way, as you do.

These are all legitimate relationship attractors—they draw people to one another, which is both healthy and natural. Attractors are perfectly fine as a first screen to narrow down the pool of what you desire in a potential relationship partner, based on your preferences as an individual. However, looks, sex, money, status, lifestyle and religion are not love. They can’t possibly be, particularly because they are temporary and bound to change over time and in ways we can’t control.

Physical appearance will be impacted by time, diet, health, genetics and injury. Career changes are inevitable, and financial fortunes are lost as quickly as they are gained. The desire and capacity for sex can be effected by everything from pregnancy to high blood pressure. Even one’s religious beliefs and relationship with God will change and evolve over time.

RELATED: 3 Things Keeping You From The Healthy Love You Say You Want

If finding the “love of your life” is your true goal, at some point in the future, the value of nearly all relationship attractors will inevitably decrease as you get older. As we say in the Grown Zone: It can’t be eternal love if everything you love about each other is temporary. Yet, these changing attractors are exactly what we are taught to look for in our search for resilient, lasting love.

It is critical to understand that you will find whatever you are looking for—even if what you are looking for is not what you really want. So if you are determined to find someone who is gorgeous, great in bed, with a six-figure income and strong Christian beliefs, it is very likely you will find that person—without necessarily finding the love you want and need. Great sex partners often make for horrible spouses. Great income-earners are often unequipped to see you through times of grief or illness. This is the reality behind unstainable relationships, unhappy marriages and the oft-referenced 50-plus percent divorce rate. This is how we enter and commit to relationships that have everything we want, only to find—to our frustration, disappointment and even anger and bitterness—that they never seem to have the one thing we need.

To find love, you need to actually look for it. That is, look for relationships defined by respect, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, fidelity and safety. Focus your search on relationship sustainers, not just attractors. Love is not hard to find when we’re clear about—and committed to preparing for—exactly what we should be looking for.

If you, like most, have found your relationship in trouble because the attractors can’t sustain it. Get help because it doesn’t get better without an intervention, it gets worse.

Stop chasing and losing. Start ATTRACTING and CHOOSING! Learn proven guidelines and principles GUARANTEED to make you happy and fulfilled REGARDLESS OF YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIP STATUS. Use the power of self love to become an irresistible MAGNET for the lasting, drama-free, AUTHENTIC LOVE created specifically for you and ONLY you! Order your copy of Loving In The Grown Zone TODAY at LovingInTheGrownZone.com!

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