Relationship specialist, psychologist, and award-winning author Maryanne Comaroto helps individuals discover essential tools for creating healthy, fulfilling, and sustainable relationships.
Maryanne is a clinical hypnotherapist, certified Vedanta meditation teacher, popular speaker, and host of a weekly radio show that reaches a global audience across 130 countries.
With a gift for making complex theories practical and telling the truth with compassion, Maryanne offers one-on-one counseling sessions and leads life-changing workshops. She is also the founder of the nonprofit the Queen of the Jungle Foundation.
Maryanne earned her Ph.D. in Depth Psychology with a specialty in Somatics. With years of researching the cultural impact on modern relationships, Maryanne developed the CORR© relationship curriculum and innovated the SHOMI® Method, a transformational system of self-inquiry.
She created the audio series “Thrive: Seven Essential Truths for Revealing Your Secret, Sacred Self” and authored the award-winning Skinny, Tan and Rich: Unveiling the Myth and Hindsight: What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers!
Maryanne enjoys meeting people, traveling, and exploring new cultures. She and her husband own Gassho House, a boutique retreat venue for people to gather, learn and refresh. Maryanne loves being with her family and her fur babies in her free time, and the beach is her happy place.
Why should we look to ourselves to feel fulfilled rather than look to a partner?
I’d say the opportunity here is to feed a basic human hunger. There are four human hungers: a hunger for our relationship with ourselves, a hunger for our relationship with spirit and to connect to the divine, a hunger to belong in the world, and the other is a hunger to connect in partnership, that one-on-one, at least for most people.
For a lot of people, one-on-one is the optimal way to be in an intimate relationship. So the opportunity to look to ourselves to feel fulfilled is really a basic human hunger. What happens is when we look to our partner to fulfill our intimate or intimacy needs solely, we just find that we are continually imbalanced. It’s too much pressure to put on one person anyway.
I think our media has done our culture a disservice, that the happily-ever-after fantasy is archetypally too simplistic. We’re far too complex to imagine one person could fulfill all our needs. So again, the opportunity is to not only find balance in that structure, which is so important.
But if you don’t know who you are, you’re very likely going to pick a partner out of some habituated or entrenched dynamic.
Perhaps something that you learned growing up or somewhere in your life that you haven’t even looked to see if that is true for you or not. “My parents did this,” or “I see this on TV,” or “Other people do that,” but you don’t really know yourself, right? So you’re just going to choose out of unconsciousness. That would be the important piece here.
I believe relationships are a good breeding ground for personal development. But I think it’s really wise not to have that be the exclusive way that you learn and to look inside ourselves for what’s true and right so they can be in partnership. So they can be an interdependency rather than a dependency.
What are some ways or suggestions to find fulfillment in ourselves, particularly for those who are not in a relationship?
So this is a question I get asked a lot. Let me slow down and say that we want to learn about ourselves, our likes and dislikes. That takes reflection, time, and courage to be with yourself and your aloneness.
I would say finding ways to enjoy your quiet self, even if there are only little ways to do that. When I started, I got a meditation pillow and set a timer for 30 seconds because the physics law says, “water seeks its own level.” If I can’t love myself, I’m going to attract someone who treats me the way I treat myself.
So I sat for 30 seconds with myself. And then I made it to a minute and then five minutes, and then the next thing I knew, I was learning how to meditate and how to be in my own stillness. So I wasn’t so insecure.
That’s part of it: How can I give myself what I so longed for out there? It’s super hard, but once we get the hang of it, it really gives us the most bang for our buck.
And then starting to notice what delights us, what inspires us, what moves us, and what we’re curious about. The same way we would someone else, right? Notice, for example, what colors you’re drawn to, what textures, what places, what landscapes; I like the sun, I love the ocean, I love salad. Starting to journal some of those things.
I love making a vision board. But the vision isn’t for something out there. It’s a getting-to-know-yourself vision board. A lot of the things you like you might not even know until you put a vision board together. “Oh my god, I love turquoise,” for example, or, “I noticed I love this shape.”
It’s really about learning about yourself and doing things that invite you to be more introspective. It’s great for an introvert; introverts might love this more.
Extroverts might find this challenging to actually spend time and sit.
So you don’t necessarily have to do it alone. You can do group-type of things, but that are more introspective together. Be quiet together with friends.
In Buddhism, they talk about one of the ways to know yourself. And what you want is to pay attention to what you don’t want and what you don’t like. That’s also a way in. To know your preferences and your non-negotiables.
And not just in the positive; sometimes, we’re more in touch with what we don’t want.
How can one find happiness at events where one is expected to have a partner, such as a wedding?
I think one of the easiest things to do is set yourself up to succeed. So managing your expectations, going in with eyes wide open, things like that. “I’m going to be alone. Who do I know at the wedding?” See if you can make sure you’ve got some allies or a plan, even having a loose plan. Let’s say you know absolutely no one. So you make it a goal to meet two people. You set small, achievable goals that you’ve thought through.
I think the best advice is: not having a plan is a recipe for failure because you’re just going to be at the effect of what’s happening around you.
Having somebody on deck that you can go to the bathroom and call it like dial a friend kind of thing. Having something to do afterward. So I think anything in that area of strategizing, thinking through, making sure that you’re really thinking of what will make you feel good and support you. I think drinking is a bad idea as one of those strategies.
You might find yourself temporarily soothed. But I’ve heard too many stories where people end up saying or doing things they regret later because, underneath it, they were feeling anxious or lonely, so they maybe hook up with someone they didn’t want to. I think, again, going in with your strategy is a better idea