Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is one of the best-selling authors and speakers in the world, well-known for his ideas about life, love and human nature.
Peterson also has a lot of fairly specific advice for people looking for relationships or who are currently in one.
This advice combines common sense with Peterson’s deeper psychologist’s and analyst’s mindset.
Let’s take a look at Peterson’s top advice for finding and keeping love.
1) Value yourself first
He urges people to face “the unloved aspect of yourself” as part of the journey to a relationship.
Whether you’re single or not, you matter.
You need to take care of yourself and have self-love that doesn’t rest on the opinions or validation of others.
As Peterson says:
“You have to treat yourself like you matter because if you don’t then you don’t take care of yourself and you become vengeful and cruel.”
2) Look after yourself and respect yourself
Peterson urges anybody who wants to be successful in relationships to look after themselves.
Dress well, practice good hygiene and have your moral and practical boundaries.
Respect yourself and stick to it.
When you consistently practice self-care, you let everyone know that you know your value and won’t settle for any less.
3) Stop being overly nice and agreeable
When you’re too nice or agreeable, you display low self-confidence and also make a less attractive partner, according to Peterson.
His reasoning here is that being too nice tends to be inauthentic and low-confidence.
It also doesn’t provide a partner with very much value, since you don’t challenge them to become better or do more.
Instead, be honest and firm about where you think your partner can improve.
“People want a romantic partner who will push them to be their best over multiple decades. That’s why people who are too nice are unattractive.”
This relates to the next point as well…
4) Don’t let bitterness fester and grow
If and when you do have an issue with your partner or somebody you’re dating, speak up!
Letting your issues and resentments build up inside will eventually wreck the relationship.
Peterson is completely correct about this.
When you let things you’re upset about stay hidden and hope they’ll just go away eventually, they come back twice as strong.
Peterson nails it:
“If you’re resentful, you’re either being oppressed and not standing up for yourself or you’re whiny and should grow up.
Both of those things are useful to realize you’re resentful and want to do something about it.”
5) Say what you want and expect straightforwardly
If you walk on eggshells, you’ll end up with a real mess on your hands.
It’s always best to find a clear and respectful way to speak your mind if you’re having issues with your partner.
“To negotiate, you and the person you are negotiating with must first know what you each need (and want)—and second, be willing to discuss both forthrightly.”
6) Never change your core identity to find love
Many people feel like they have to change in order to find or keep love.
The sad irony is that the more willing you are to be somebody other than who you are, the less you’ll be truly loved.
Because even when you win somebody’s heart, they’ll be loving a version of you that isn’t authentic.
What’s more, you’ll eventually become resentful that you acted like somebody else or changed your core values just to appeal to somebody else.
Peterson puts it well:
“Don’t agree to anything you don’t actually agree with. If you always agree even when you disagree, over time you will become resentful.”
7) Be a competent man
A lot of Peterson’s advice is aimed at men, especially young men.
He urges young men to get their own life in order and stop expecting anybody else to come fix things for them.
Peterson believes in a hierarchy of competence where true authority comes from being good at something and taking responsibility for it.
When you are competent, you will naturally attract a high-value woman, according to Peterson.
As he says:
“Women deeply want men who are competent and powerful.”
8) Give more than you take
Peterson urges a giving attitude in relationships.
While he emphasizes never to sell ourselves short or change what we want under pressure, he does advise to be a giver.
Become the best version of yourself and go from there.
According to Peterson, once you maximize your own potential and are on a path to empowerment, the right partner will appear as a matter of course.
“In relationships, think: how can I become the best possible partner? Don’t think: how do I find the person that’s right for me? Because answering question 1 is the answer to question 2.”
On a related note…
9) Practice makes perfect
Peterson isn’t such a romantic as some.
He believes that love is a choice and there is no right one.
In fact he believes strong initial attraction can mislead us and get us into relationships that are toxic or damage our sense of self.
Instead, don’t expect yourself to know right away if somebody is right for you, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you go out and the chemistry isn’t really flowing.
It takes practice to get good at dating and find your groove, just like anything else.
“Maybe you need fifteen dates—or forty—because you have lost the knack, need the practice, and must develop the habit and goodwill… This is a skill you must learn, not an unearned gift from Cupid.”
10) Learn the lessons in rejection
When it comes to rejection, Peterson urges men in particular to see the lessons in rejection.
If you’re being consistently rejected, it can be a wake-up call that there are things about your behavior and self-confidence that need some work.
Peterson remains consistent in his advice that when in doubt about what to do in life, work on yourself and commit yourself to a goal.
The rest will come with it.
“One of the things I’ve told men over and over and over and over is if you’re being rejected by all the women that you approach, it’s not the women!”
11) Find somebody who loves you unconditionally
If you’re in a long-term relationship, you need to have a high level of trust.
This includes feeling like you can trust your partner enough to open up about darker sides of yourself and your past and vice versa.
If you have the feeling that you need to play a predetermined role or sanitize your past, emotions or experiences, then eventually fault lines will get worse and worse.
As Peterson says, love can’t be transactional and you need to know that even if you open up your partner is still going to love you.
“I commit to you completely, except if I found out you slept with a lot of guys in college” just isn’t going to cut it…
Nor is something like “I commit to you completely, except if you reveal that you’ve struggled with serious depression for years once we get more serious.”
As Peterson notes:
“Human beings are complicated and have such dark corners and unresolved problems in their life.
Sometimes those stem back generations and are twisted and bent in all sorts of ways. It’s very difficult to reveal [yourself] except to someone who can’t run away.”
12) Commitment is a choice
According to Peterson, we have to choose who we’ll commit to.
This relates to the previous point in that commitment is a conscious and ongoing choice.
Clearly people change their minds about that choice.
But Peterson’s advice is to think carefully about who you choose as a mate (and who you let choose you) and to commit fully if and when you commit.
Instead of thinking of love as magic or spontaneous, Peterson urges us to see it as an act of will that we initiate and maintain daily with the person we care for and choose to partner with.