BY TAYLOR WADE
If having a relationship is high on your priority list, you should be doing everything you can to improve your success rate. You wouldn't walk into a job interview ill-prepared, and your dating life shouldn't be treated differently, yet many of us do that very thing. We think we shouldn't prepare for dating because we are supposed "to just be ourselves."
This viewpoint provides a major hindrance because many of us have a certain amount of baggage. If we drag this baggage with us, attached to our ankles like a ball and chain, it will only weigh us down. We must chop it off in order to freely enter a relationship with no weights holding us back. Below outlines eight simple steps you can implement into your life today to detach yourself from your baggage and begin the path to a more successful dating life.
1. Perform An Autopsy Of Your Previous Relationships
This can be a very useful tool if you take the time and do it properly. Determine what caused your past relationships to end. The most important part is looking at things objectively and honestly. Then, decipher how you can learn from your mistakes and improve in your next relationship. If you kept a journal, go back and refresh your memory. Many of us have a very selective memory.
2. Never Lower Your Standards
Have you ever wondered why a man will pursue you with vigor in the early stages of dating, then as soon as you decide you really like him, he backs off? This usually happens because women lower their standards and bend over backward in order to accommodate the man in their lives. They'll blow off friends in order to see him, they'll abandon their vegetarian beliefs because he wants to eat steak, or they'll miss their workout because he wants to hang out. As soon as you lower your standards, he'll lose respect for you. Never abandon values to accommodate someone.
3. Have Realistic Expectations
In my last article, Why Am I Still Single, Mark Manson points out that he once met a woman who was unhealthy and overweight and, with a straight face, stated that she would only consider dating a man if he had six-pack abs (unsurprisingly, she was still single). He goes on to state, "Intimacy and romance is determined by people who have comparable and complementary imperfections to one another." In other words, keep it real.
4. Be In The Right Mindset
90% of communication is non-verbal. Body posture, gestures and tone of voice are all signals that others pick up naturally and rapidly. For every thought you have, there’s a physiological reaction. Meaning, eliminate negative thought patterns. Become aware of the signals you are sending out. Desperation, for example, comes through in non-verbal communication. Send the message that you “want to” be in a relationship, not that you "have to" be in a relationship.
5. Eliminate Predetermined Beliefs
To prejudge or have a predetermined outlook will never be to your advantage. Every situation and person are different. For example, your boyfriend asks you to move in and you immediately flash back to the last time you moved in with someone – he ditched his career and all motivation in life and decided to live off your financial wealth until you finally had to kick him out. It doesn't mean this scenario is going to happen all over again with your current love interest. Leave your baggage at the door and perceive your relationship with a fresh pair of eyes.
6. Throw Out Your List
Throw out your list of the perfect man or woman and see who you naturally gravitate toward. Many people treat dating as a job interview. The dating prospect has to present his or her qualifications which are either ticked off like boxes on a checklist or marked out with a red ink pen. Sure, having standards and desires for what you want in a relationship are great, but not when it gets in the way of a potentially exceptional match. Is he two inches shorter than your perfect 6'1" dream guy? Is he eight years older rather than the four year age gap your parents had? Be open-minded and give it a shot. You may be surprised what you find.
7. Be Comfortable With You
When people are open, comfortable with themselves, and feel mutual trust, it allows human connection and romantic chemistry to take place more easily. This is because when people are comfortable in their skin, they are more adept at expressing their true self to the world, which makes it easier to get to know them – even if perspectives on important matters differ. Practice being comfortable in your own skin by not hyper-focusing on your behavior and eliminating negative self-talk.
8. Make Time To Be Social
Look at your life and ask yourself if you’re leaving time to meet someone. It's difficult to meet dating prospects when you work from home and never leave the house. I've found that it's much easier to meet people when you are regularly involved in an activity. For example, join a book club or sign-up for a tennis league that meets weekly. Even if the group doesn't present a love interest, you will eventually form friendships, hence widening your social circle and making it easier to meet people you wouldn't normally meet.
Once you have finally achieved being in a successful relationship, you must realize you are 50% of that relationship. To keep the two of you happy, you have to maintain your half. This means keeping care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. I am a huge advocate of constant self-improvement and avoiding stagnancy. Choose one area of your love life to work on at a time. Self-improvement is a process and doesn't happen overnight. It may seem like a lot of work, but in the end, isn't love worth the effort?
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