A new year brings a great opportunity to make a change. Resolutions come with a lot of baggage, so instead of making this a list of resolutions for you to make, I wanted to instead propose an improvement plan for your dating and love life. These are simple things anyone can do, regardless of relationship status:
The world can be a cold and indifferent place, and a little more kindness in it wouldn’t hurt anybody. It’s good to be kind, and we could all be a little kinder. In 2018, you should strive to be kinder, especially to yourself.
In overheard conversations, on dating forums, and in open discussion on social networks, I see people talk about themselves in pretty unkind ways because of the various “mistakes” they’ve made in dating and relationships. I’ve seen people go the extra mile to blame themselves for being ghosted, not recognizing someone’s bad behavior sooner, and all other manner of bad behavior that other people have committed.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a critical eye to your past dating choices and using that information to help you make better choices. That’s the basis for this very blog after all, I’m a big believer in learning from your own experiences and the experiences of others (and in my case, writing about my mistakes so you don’t have to make them). What you shouldn’t do is take the mistakes you’ve made to be any indication of your character. You can’t go back and undo mistakes you think you’ve made, but you can forgive yourself for making them. You can’t take back sleeping with someone who you think you shouldn’t have, but you can choose to be kinder to yourself for making an honest mistake. Give yourself the kindness you’d give a friend who made a mistake.
(Re-)Examine Your Goals
Whenever you set a goal, you should revisit that goal from time to time to check your progress, and see if changes need to be made. That same sort of philosophy can and should be applied to your romantic goals. Rather than go through every single way you should look at your goals, I’ll give you a few places to start:
Do you know what you want? Do you know what you’re looking for? Do these two things align, or contradict each other? You can say you want a monogamous relationship, but if what you’re seeking out is casual flings, what you want and what you look for are at odds. There’s nothing wrong with wanting or looking for either of those things, but you should be aware if you’re goals aren’t matching up with your actions.
Do you know what sort of person you’re looking for? Do you actively seek this sort of person?
Have you figured out the values you want in an ideal partner? Do you seek out and build relationships with people who hold those values?
These are just some ways to look at, or re-examine your own goals in your love life but they all follow a basic formula: What’s your goal, and are you doing things that will help you achieve your goal?
Your dating goals might not need to change, mine didn’t for about 2 years, but that’s only because I spent 12 years re-examining my dating goals. Its okay if you need to make a change, I did year after year for a dozen years until I finally figured out what I really wanted, and what I really valued.
Embrace Failure as a Learning Tool
Take the lessons that love teaches you when things go wrong, and use them to get better. Each bad date is an opportunity to gather data about what makes a bad date for you. Each message that goes responded to is an opportunity for you to either learn to craft better messages, or learn to build a thicker skin, because you’ll realize that most of your messages won’t be responded to. Each argument you have with your significant other provides you with an opportunity to improve your communication. You don’t need to believe that every cloud has a silver lining, I’m not asking you to be an optimist. What I’m asking is that you look at your mistakes in dating and love and realize that there’s something you can learn. Big or small, there’s something to be learned if you look hard enough.
(Try To) Have Fun
As tough as dating, love, and relationships can be, you should try to have fun. Emphasis on try. In a perfect world, our love lives would be fun all the time, but that just isn’t the case. The least you can do is try to have fun. Make the most of what is a part of life that can be fun, but can potentially not be enjoyable. It sucks to be rejected, but it will suck a little less if the date you went on was one where you could have fun. I always felt that a rejection stung a little less if it came after a cocktail date, because I enjoy cocktails, and a rejection always felt worse after a coffee date because I hate coffee dates. Find ways to try to make your love life fun, whether it’s doing activities you want to do, going to venues you enjoy, or just lowering your expectations and winging it. Whatever way that you can to try to make things fun, give it a shot.
This plan, as simple as it may seem, is the same plan I’ve used every year and it’s brought me a lot of happiness and satisfaction in my own love life. I hope that it helps you do the same.
Good Luck Out There.
Also published on Medium.