BY TAYLOR WADE

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 5:25 MIN

If you want to ace an interview, you prepare. If you want to win a tennis championship, you train. If you want to learn a new language, you practice. Your love life shouldn’t be treated any different. If you want to find the right relationship, you must be proactive. 

Yet, many of us 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, attached to our ankles like a ball and chain, which weighs us down and keeps us from freely entering a successful relationship.

Commit to the practice of preparing for and finding a committed relationship in 2017. Outlined below are the most proactive and impactful steps needed to put you on the right path. And, if you need further help, you know where to find us.

 

1. Practice Happiness

The old adage "You must love yourself before loving another" is ubiquitous for a reason. In order to truly make another person happy, you must feel that happiness radiate within yourself. Most look outward to material success or wealth, or to their relationships, to find happiness, however, happiness is a practice that accumulates with each positive thought, spoken word, action, and habit. Start practicing your happiness today.

2. 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. This is why eliminating negative thought patterns is so important. Become aware of the signals you are sending. 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. 

3. Ditch Your Baggage

Each person has a certain amount of baggage. For example, your boyfriend asks you to move-in with him and you immediately flash back to your last co-habitation experience: your ex ditched his career and all motivation in life and decided to be a huge mooch. It doesn't mean this scenario is going to play out the same way. Ditch your past and perceive your new relationship with a fresh pair of eyes.

4. Be Comfortable In Your Skin

When people are open, comfortable with themselves, and feel mutual trust, it allows human connection and romantic chemistry to occur 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. 

5. Evaluate Past 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. Many of us have a very selective and subjective memory, so the most important part of this task is to look at things objectively and honestly. Afterward, decipher how you can learn from your mistakes and improve in your next relationship.

6. Seek Compatibility In Your Relationships

There is a difference between being in love with someone and being compatible with someone. Both elements should be present in a relationship. If you have love without compatibility, it will be a constant struggle. If you have compatibility without love, there will be no passion. Realize the need for both love and compatibility, and don’t settle for one without the other.

7. Have Realistic Expectations

In the article, Why Am I Still Single, Author 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.

8. Have A Life

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 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 steak, or they'll miss their workout because he wants to hang. As soon as you stop having a life, he'll lose respect for you. Never abandon values to accommodate someone. 

9. Continually Learn And Grow

The person that you will spend the most time with in your life is yourself, so you better try to make yourself as interesting as possible. When you are continually learning and developing new skills, passions, and goals, you are sharper, more alert, and happier, thus growing your confidence and attracting others toward you.

10. Make Time For Socializing

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 form friendships and widen your social circle, making it easier to meet people you wouldn't normally meet. 

11. Throw Out Your List

Discard your "perfect partner" list and see to whom you naturally gravitate. Many people treat dating as a job interview. Your date 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. Having standards for what you want in a relationship is a good thing, 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 six years older rather than the four year age gap you imagined? Be open-minded and give it a shot. You may be surprised what you find. 

12. Keep Good Company

The people with whom you surround yourself have a tremendous impact on your life. Ensure that your friends, whether single or coupled, are acting as a strong support system during your search. Only accept encouragement, constructive advice, and motivation to make good choices. If a friendship doesn't foster these types of habits, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.


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