Finding True Love: How to Recognize and Nurture Authentic Connections

By Greg Baer M.D.

May 11, 2023

10 Tips for Finding True Love and Genuine Connections 

When people talk about finding “true love,” most often they are talking about romantic, committed relationships. But after thirty years of counseling people around the subject of love, I can tell you that it is impossible to find and maintain a fulfilling and exciting romantic relationship until you first know how to find genuine connection with a FRIEND. Finding genuine connection is an intricate skill that most of us have never learned.

What you want more than anything is to find True Love in your life. You want it so bad that you can almost taste it. You can feel it just over the horizon but no matter where you go, you can’t quite reach it. You’ve had times when you were sure you’d found it—a brilliant flash of romance, for example—but then it was gone. You felt betrayed and lost.

No more of that. You don’t have to wander around desperately anymore. Let’s talk about how to find True Love, or what I call Real Love—unconditional love.

Tip #1 for Finding True Love and Genuine Connection:

Learn what Real Love IS

Deep down we all know that we need love. Emotionally we need it every bit as much as our bodies need air, water, and food. And the evidence for this need is overwhelming. In the longest mental health study ever done, the lead researcher said, “Happiness is love. Period.” The people who had loving connections with others were found to be happier and healthier in every way.

But despite our profound NEED for love, we don’t know what Real Love even looks or feels like. Really, we don’t. You might ask, How could this possibly be so? We see love described in words and images constantly in movies, in conversation, on social media, even by experts. We are obsessed with stories of “love,” so how could we be missing the very definition of it?

THAT is THE question: what IS Real Love?

Oh, that’s easy to answer, but it also begins the most rigorous journey of your life—and the most rewarding.

Almost none of us know that what we’re looking for is not just any kind of love. What we all need is UNCONDITIONAL love, or Real Love, which means to care about another person without any thought for something in return. If you have no expectations of somebody giving you something in return when you love them—no return affection, or gratitude, or anything—you will never be disappointed. There is no disappointment or irritation in Real Love. THAT distinguishes Real Love from everything else that people CALL love—infatuation, romance, sex, mutual praise, and the temporary insanity called “falling in love.”

You might be thinking, “What??!! A relationship with zero disappointment or anger?” Yeah, imagine that. Even the thought is nearly preposterous to us, which PROVES that we have little to no familiarity with such love. If you had received unconditional love, Real Love, consistently in your life, the idea of no disappointment or anger would be familiar to you, not impossible or crazy.

You didn’t get that kind of love—with no disappointment or anger—so you don’t know how to look for it in another person. You don’t know how to give it to a partner either. That makes the possibility of genuine connection impossible. Yikes. So, how do I know that you didn’t receive unconditional love?

Remember in your childhood how many times:

  1. your parents or others rolled their eyes at your mistakes?
  2. they criticized your performance, especially with a “tone?”
  3. they told you they were disappointed in you—with their words, their facial expression?

Or the occasions when you just needed to talk to someone, but there was no one there.

On all of these occasions, we were not feeling unconditionally loved—whether aggressively or by simple neglect—and we FELT the message, “I don’t love you.” Really. It was like being poked with a sharp stick. 

Because we lack Real Love, naturally we look for the excitement of anything that makes us feel good: praise, physical beauty, sexual attraction, sex, money, drama, social media, and on and on. But none of these things helps us find someone who can share an unconditionally loving relationship with us. No genuine connection.

 We all need this love. Now. Always. We need love more than anything, and without it we WILL be in pain. We will feel small and helpless, and we HATE that

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Tip #2: Find True Love and Genuine Connection

Now that we know what Real Love IS, we can begin to look for it. We haven’t found it yet because there was never a class in school on the subject, was there?

Throughout our discussion, mostly I’m talking about finding genuine connection with a friend, which we MUST learn to do before having any hope of finding and maintaining Real Love with a PARTNER. If you’re already in a partnership, all this will still help you a lot, but I’m talking here about unconditional love in a friendship first.

Before you can climb a difficult mountain, FIRST you must learn to become fit by running on flat and mildly hilly terrain. Then you begin climbing more and more difficult slopes, and finally you’re ready for the mountain. Same with Real Love. Learn to connect with FRIENDS long before you entertain a committed relationship.

How? How do you find these friends?

  • Go to and learn a great deal more about Real Love.

On the site:

  • Get the Real Love Boot Camp, it’s a wonderful synopsis of Real Love and summary of practical ways to find it.
  • Watch any of the hundreds of free “Video Chats”.
  • Download one (or all) of the six free Ultimate Guides.
  • Read from the hundreds of blogs, all of which are indexed in the Master Index on that site.
  • Go to our YouTube channel @RealLoveCompany and watch hundreds of videos about Real Love.
  • Go to and learn how Real Love can be practically and effectively used to raise loving, responsible, and happy children. Nearly half of single people looking for love also have children.

There are so many ways to find connection, but the first step is almost always this:

Tell truth about yourself

The conventional wisdom of the world tells us what—usually without words?

  • Always look your best.
  • Say the “right” things.
  • Look attractive—you know, like the people on social media.
  • Don’t make mistakes.
  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel good—who are fun, who flatter you, all that. Again, like you see on social media.
  • Surround yourself with THINGS that make you happy—delivered right to your door, conveniently.
  • Give compliments freely and do things so that you will get compliments. 

These are the INSTRUCTIONS we get every day from the world around us, and baby, we follow them. On the whole, we have learned that we do these things or die. The line of people ahead of us, competing for “love,” is long, and many of those people are very skilled at trading for attention and flattery.

On uncounted occasions, we’ve seen that if we ignore these standards of social behavior, we’ll be swiped left and left out.

But look how those standards of the world are completely at odds with what we really want. How? What do you really want? You want CONNECTION to someone who can understand and unconditionally love YOU—who you ARE, not who you are trying to be as you try to please people or avoid their disapproval.

If you TRY to look your best, if you WORK at being attractive, you’re not being yourself. You’ve made it impossible to find that unconditional love and genuine connection you’re looking for.

The obvious question is, “HOW do I tell the truth about myself? What do I say?” Everybody has those questions. Again:

Listen again to the resources that we just talked about. And there are additional resources available to you on that might help or interest you.

From these resources you’ll learn what to say that will greatly increase your opportunities to connect with people.

As a brief tangent from being yourself, don’t TRY to make connections or relationships happen. In our desperation, we almost always do that. You can’t get to know someone until they have told the truth about themselves for quite some time, nor can they get to know you until you have done the same.

So, don’t MAKE a relationship happen. No, instead keep telling the truth. Practice caring and being cared for. Keep investigating WHETHER a loving connection or relationship is even POSSIBLE.

Oh, and as part of telling the truth, we strongly tend to avoid mistakes. Wrong again. Tell the truth and make mistakes as much as possible, so you can DISCOVER whether you can HAVE a genuine connection. It’s scary in the beginning, but it’s WAY better to have a little fear of telling the truth in the beginning than to play games and have your connection or relationship fall apart much more painfully later.

As you are looking for friends, look for the people:

  • who can tell the truth about THEMSELVES to you as you’re being truthful to them.
  • who can easily admit being WRONG. People who insist on being right are often unteachable.
  • who are willing to study any Real Love material with you, or just discuss it with you.
  • who don’t easily get angry. Angry people are very afraid and difficult to connect with.

There are many qualities to look for, but those are the most important.

Tip #3: How to nurture relationships

What does it mean to nurture a relationship  

Plants—trees and such—are either growing or dying. There is no “staying the same” in life, and the same is true of genuine connections and loving relationships. They require attention. We have to learn how to listen, and how to support, and how to accept, and how to love. We are NOT born knowing how to do those things. So where can we learn?

Tip #4: Why nurturing relationships are important

Can nurture change nature?

I previously described the many “I don’t love you” wounds that we all received, wounds that mostly we don’t even remember. These messages communicated to us who we ARE, how the world IS, and how we function in the world. If we were not unconditional loved—by far the most common condition—we learned that we are small and helpless, and that the world is scary and hurtful.

Then we spend our lives defending ourselves and trying to feel worthwhile. Yuck, this is one terrible way to live, and it’s how almost the entire world lives—without even realizing that they are doing it. Kind of a nightmare. And we repeat it day after day, which is why we feel stressed, unhappy, and—in most cases—suffer from physical ailments that are a manifestation of our stress.

Therapists spend all day listening to tales of woe that are actually caused by ONE thing—the lack of Real Love in the patient’s childhood. No, I’m not over-simplifying.

Is there a solution? Oh yes. All those resources and websites we’ve talked about.

Tip #5: How to nurture relationships during difficult times

Difficult times in relationships WILL come. Circumstances change, we get tired or sick, the people around us change, and so do we. What can we do when connection and love become difficult—even impossible, it seems?

  1. Keep going. More about that shortly. Keep looking for ways to be honest about YOURSELF. Keep listening. Keep finding more connections.
  2. Some connections or relationships really are impossible. They just can’t work, for a variety of reasons. When you’re CERTAIN that you’ve done what you can reasonably do, it’s time to consider letting go of some connections.

Tip #6: When you don't nurture a relationship, what happens? 

When a relationship falls apart, everybody asks what happened, and they seem utterly mystified, as though the only answer were to blame the other person. But it’s not complicated. If neither person in a relationship knows how to be unconditionally loving, there is ONE answer: relationships fall apart because of the lack of Real Love.

If you plant a garden in a place with no sunshine, or no water, you can’t be mystified by the failure of the plants to grow. And so it is with relationships, which need Real Love as much as plants need soil, water, and sunshine.

Tip #7: How to nurture relationships in the workplace

People are people, wherever they are. When they walk through the office door—or open up their video conferencing app—they don’t lose their need to feel loved. They need love at work as much as anywhere else. But how? Am I suggested a hug and “I love you” at work? Hardly.

There’s an entire book on the subject of Real Love in the Workplace, and you can find that on

Tip #8: Nurture relationship with God

If you have no belief in God, or a troubled relationship with God, I can tell you two things:

  1. You were not exposed at a young age to PEOPLE who loved you unconditionally. God speaks in the language of love, and if the people around you didn’t teach you that language, either you won’t believe in God, or you’ll have a difficult relationship with Him.
  2. The more you feel Real Love, the more you’ll be learning God’s language, and you’ll find it much easier to connect with Him.

So keep using those resources I have mentioned, and you’ll discover other ways to nurture a relationship with God.

For those who read the Bible, there is also a book, The Essentials of Real Love Bible Workbook, that explains extensively how to nurture a relationship with God.

Tip #9: Nurturing relationships in early childhood

  1. On the whole, we did not have unconditionally loving relationships in childhood. I talked earlier about the disapproval and neglect that nearly all of us experienced. This has had profound effects on us and on our children.
  2. We can learn how to nurture unconditionally loving relationships with our children and change the patterns that are affecting all children world-wide. Go to for a lot about that.

Tip #10: Keep going

  • Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never, never give up.” (See #1 below)
  • Keep telling the truth about yourself. Keep looking for people who light up when you do that.
  • Keep using the resources we’ve discussed.
  • Genuine connection and unconditional love are worth everything we do to find them.

Tip #11 (Bonus): Learn from the lessons of others

Example of nurturing relationships

Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have used the Real Love resources I’ve described. I could tell you their stories for the rest of the year, but I’ll pick one.

When I met Marcus, he looked to all the world like a successful human being: good job, married, two children, nice house. I asked him to describe the family he was raised in, and he said, “They were, you know, normal. Loving.”

I tilted my head to one side, frowned slightly, and gave him a facial expression of disappointment. He burst into tears. After only a few questions, I learned that Marcus was raised by an emotionally absent father and a mother who lived in a constant state of low-grade anger that she accepted as normal.

Marcus had been crushed by a lifetime of “no unconditional love.” I taught him about Real Love and introduced him to the feeling of it. He drank it in like dry soil soaks up the rain. He studied the principles. He did everything we’ve talked about. He talked to friends, people in support groups, people at church, everywhere. He even formed his own group of Real Love people.

With sufficient love, his pain and fear began to melt. He felt peaceful. His marriage became richer. His children learned to be loving, responsible, and happy(See #2 below)

 You can create your own story and a life so much richer than what you have now

1. 1941 address to students at Harrow School

2. Personal correspondence and conversations with Marcus.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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