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Psychologist tries to help students find the one

Knowing what you really want is key to finding the partner of your dreams, said Dr. Leonard Kirklen, psychologist for the USF Counseling Center for Human Development (CCHD).

That was Kirklen’s advice to students who are looking for long-term relationships. He wanted to expose many relationship myths during a workshop that continues this week on campus.

One of the most common myths, Kirklen said, is that opposites attract.

“Opposites attract, but similars tend to stay together because there’s more middle ground,” Kirklen said Thursday at a forum titled “Finding Mr./Ms. Right.”

The forum was part of the USF Counseling Center’s “Student Success” workshop series, which continues today with “Can I E-mail/Text/Call/Take You Out Sometime? Healthy Dating in the 21st Century” in the Student Services building, room 2126 at 3 p.m.

Kirklen, a graduate of Purdue University, said people in search of healthy relationships need to establish what traits and values they’re looking for in partners, but should avoid setting unreasonably high expectations.

And Kirklen said once a relationship begins, keeping an open dialogue is crucial.

Alex Hayes, a junior majoring in international studies, attended with her boyfriend, Brandon Lewis, a senior majoring in psychology. They’ve been dating for one year.

“Sometimes (in arguments), we don’t know where the other is coming from, and when we find out where we’re coming from, we didn’t even need to have the disagreement,” Hayes said.

Even if both partners in a relationship do their best, it’s important for students to remember that this period in their lives is for growth and change, Kirklen said. Marriages of people between the ages of 20 and 30 are beset with extra challenges.

“It can never be like it was when you first met,” Kirklen said.

“Surveys have shown that long-term couples (who) are happy together say that the reason they are together is not just love – but friendship.”

And Kirklen said worrying about a past relationship can hurt a person’s future. The idea that any individual is “the one” was one of the other myths he struck down.

“There are hundreds of people who would be right for you,” Kirklen said. “They may be on campus … but you may never cross paths. There are a lot of potential good matches out there for you.”