The Secret to True Love

Learning to be content in each season of relationships
By Shiroko Sokitch, MD

A few years ago on Valentine’s Day, I went out with three girlfriends dressed to the nines. We were headed to a Singles Society event. Within three feet of walking into the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, we saw that there were only ten people there, all over the age of 60, and only one male. I left the premises depressed as we headed toward Petaluma.

There we were, four attractive single women sitting at a Taqueria in Petaluma on Valentine’s Day, trying to connect, but with no one to connect to. Valentine’s Day isn’t really the ideal day to be out looking for love, so we made the most of our evening together and celebrated in style.

This year if you find yourself single on Valentine’s Day, don’t get absorbed by that empty feeling of not being with someone. Rest assured you are not just okay, you are loveable and fabulous. Make it your mission to really be with yourself and have fun!

I have been practicing a blend of Western and Eastern medicine with a deep spiritual practice for over 20 years in Marin and Sonoma counties in California. Working with the mission to transform our current concept of good health, I teach my clients that taking care of your emotional health is just as important as your physical health, and that in fact they are connected.

We focus so much of our thoughts and time on our desire to love and be loved that we often overlook the relationship we have with ourselves—so let’s start there.

Most of us don’t want to be alone, and many suffer a lot just to avoid it. We’ve all heard about women who tolerate years of abuse because of their fear of being alone. There are many people who settle for less than what they desire in a relationship. My client Annie has been married for 30 years to a man she was never in love with. She was always afraid to leave him and now, at age 65, she feels like she will never have the love she has always craved.

We all have our issues, points of pain, and insecurities. What would it take to be okay with yourself? Here are six ideas for making 2013 the most fulfilling year yet: single or not.

1) Start by asking yourself “What do I love doing that I am not doing now?”

Start doing those things! Many of us don’t realize that we have a tendency to wait until we are in relationship for our lives to begin or flourish. But here’s a secret—you don’t need to wait for someone else in order to live the life you always dreamed. Do the things you love or have always wanted to do now. It may be as simple as taking a walk alone.

I love going to coffee shops by myself, bringing my laptop, and working beside a nicely brewed cup of coffee. That’s something I can give myself regularly. My friend, Ariana, wanted to go to Barcelona with her husband for 15 years, but he never wanted to go. After they divorced, she went with her best friend to Spain and traveled around Europe for a month. Don’t limit how amazingly you can conduct your life. Why not, for instance, take the dream vacation that you always wanted?

2) Forgive the past.

Of course you can’t help but analyze your past relationships. Often you will be inclined to blame the ex for all the things he or she did wrong. Are you able to ask yourself, “Is there value in holding these grudges?”

If you are looking for ways to forgive, here is one idea. Every time you think about a person that has hurt you, say this Hawaiian prayer: “I love you. I thank you. I forgive you. Please forgive me.”

3) Begin asking yourself “What can I give?”

When I talk to people who are single, they usually have a list of things they want in a relationship. I’ve made such lists too. I remember one list I made years ago after a big breakup. The next guy I met fit my list exactly—but he also had other qualities I hadn’t asked for, namely being extremely possessive and needy. Not that it’s a bad idea to make a list of things you want, but what about creating a list of things you want to give? Who would you want to be in a loving relationship? What would you share?

4) Rediscover and appreciate the gifts you have and what wonderful joys you bring to the lives of those around you.

Are you funny? Are you generous? Are you kind? Are you a great cook? Thinking about the qualities you have to offer will allow you to begin relating to yourself differently. You could survey your friends if you have trouble—sometimes it’s difficult to see ourselves clearly.

When you come from a place of wanting to give and share in a relationship, you will have a better relationship. Many of us have a lot of love to give, but we spend so much time thinking about the love we want to receive that we forget another person would want to receive love as well. Generosity is the key to real partnership.

5) Try this little exercise.

Make a little love box and put it in the right hand corner of your home, office, or bedroom (that’s the romance corner of your space according to feng shui). Every day, write a note of one thing you would do for your lover if you had one. It can be as simple as making a romantic dinner or as wonderful as sitting and listening when that person has had a hard day. When you feel lonely and wish you had someone, go to the box and read what you would do for your new partner. Do one for yourself.

6) While you are exploring these new possibilities for happiness in your life, you are empowering yourself to be more of who you are.

Take all the energy that you were putting outward and focus it inward. Take your time. Be patient with yourself. Bring love for yourself into the equation. Find the strength to start healing and freeing those parts of yourself that are stuck and in pain. It may be hard to do at first when the emptiness inside feels so huge. But keep trying, and slowly watch your heart expand and grow. Discover the secret to true love by starting to become your own best friend.

The key to happiness is acceptance of what you have already, not wishing things could be different. That day at the Taqueria I decided that I would dedicate myself to loving my life. Now, on Valentine’s Day, even when I don’t have a lover, I dedicate the day to loving what I have.


Shiroko Sokitch, MD, is an integrative and holistic medical doctor practicing a unique blend of Chinese and western medicine for over 20 years in Sonoma and Marin County. For over 12 years, she has written an integrative medicine advice column, “Ask Dr. Shiroko,” for the Healdsburg Tribune, Windsor Times, and Sonoma West. For more information visit