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How Do I Find a Soul Mate in Vermont? 

Dear Athena,

I have a few questions: 1. How do I find a soul mate in Vermont? 2. What is "true" love like? 3. How do I impress a woman simply by being myself? 4. How do I manage to love someone when I don't love myself? 5. How do I make a relationship last the rest of my life?

Signed,

Just a High School Kid Looking for Answers

Dear High School Kid,

Let me see what I can do here...

1. According to Merriam-Webster, a soul mate is defined as "a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament." The word "perfect" puts a lot of pressure on us to find that one and only. But I don't believe we have just one person who fits us "perfectly"; there might be a lot of them out there. More importantly, though, no one is perfect. Your mate may have qualities that complement yours, but for a relationship to realistically work, you both have to be flexible about the imperfections you find in each other. Otherwise, we'd all be alone forever. You want to have a deep connection with someone? Open your heart. Be bold and friendly. Put yourself out there. Ask out the women who interest you. Seek and you shall find, my friend. This advice applies to all 50 states.

2. "True" love? Hmm. That's hard to describe, because the sensations are different and experiences vary for everyone. But here goes: True love is when you deeply care for someone else as much as, or perhaps more than, yourself. True love is unconditional and supportive. It is about giving that person the freedom to be the best version of him- or herself. It's heavy sighs and butterflies in your stomach and feeling light on your feet. But it's also safe and comfortable. It's nonjudgmental and delightful. True love fills you up yet leaves you wanting more. You know it when you feel it.

3. The right woman will be impressed by you just as you are. No fluff, no masks, no games. Be you. Life is too short to be anything other than you. Also, it's too much work.

4. You can't truly love someone until you love yourself. You can like someone a lot. But real love, the kind that sticks, begins to wear if you don't know how to care about yourself first. Find whatever ways you can to see yourself as worthy and important. Find work that is gratifying. Surround yourself with people who are encouraging and positive. Learning to love yourself is a process that you must undertake on your own — but if you need to, do talk to a trusted friend, family member or counselor. And don't ever give up on yourself.

5. A relationship to last a lifetime? There isn't a single answer to this question, and for it to happen, your partner needs to have the same goal. You can start by rereading the above. And at your age, don't be in a rush to find the love of your life. But when you do, communicate honestly and be respectful, be true to her and have fun together whenever possible.

Yours,

Athena

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