New year, new you? Making simple changes and committing to mindful action often transforms everything. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are ten intentions to bring to your love life in 2019.
1. I will bring positive energy to dating. I will not be negative or unload any baggage on early dates. One of the most common dating traps is commiserating about negative life events with someone new. Whether you find yourself bonding over your shared history of getting divorced, or a pattern of unfortunate online dating experiences, know this is a habit worth breaking. While it may feel reassuring in the moment, this dating no-no rarely works in your favor or leads to a healthy long-term relationship. Commit to redirecting the conversation away from questions, such as “how is online dating going for you?” and staying on positive topics. Bonding over the positive (mutual hobbies, interests, values, goals, etc.) and understanding there are layers to healthy personal disclosure is what leads to true intimacy. Don’t talk about any past dating or relationship experiences until a healthy foundation is built.
2. I will be open-minded about what my person looks like. So often people miss opportunities with great partners because they have rigid requirements about appearance. Maybe you can relate if you find yourself operating on very specific height, hair color or body type requirements and ruling out potential matches who you don’t perceive to be your physical type. I am not saying physical attraction isn’t important (I believe it is!), but I am encouraging you to be open to who you may be physically attracted to despite any preconceived notions and allow physical attraction to grow along side of an emotional connection.
3. I will be authentic online (including my dating profile, through messaging, and social media) and during dates. Appearing phony and pretending to be someone you are not is not the means to forming a genuine connection on or offline. Acting like every aspect of your life is perfect is likely to be a turnoff. Being completely agreeable, by hiding dietary restrictions and saying yes to meeting at a restaurant that doesn’t have food that works for you, for example, is also the opposite of authenticity. Also, simply echoing your date’s opinions and holding back your own thoughts will not allow your date to get to know the real you. While it is natural to be anxious about being vulnerable, commit to showing up as your true self. This means no lying or deception while sharing who you are at an appropriate pace.
4. I will exit dating/relationship experiences that are not right for me. I will have the courage to walk away, initiate a breakup or goodbye and create a new path forward. If you are staying in a relationship to avoid being single or lonely or are staying due to negative beliefs (believing you can’t do better, this is your last shot at love, or you should be lucky this person likes you), you are continuing your relationship for the wrong reasons. If you are keeping things going simply to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or out of your own guilt, again, you are staying for the wrong reasons. Know when it’s time to walk away and give yourself permission to let go.
5. I will believe in my worth and know my value. I will love myself as a flawed and imperfect person. Dating without self-love and confidence sets you up to tolerate toxic behaviors in others, have low standards, and continue relationships due to self-limiting beliefs. If you believe you deserve love, affection and admiration from others, you will be open to receiving it. Therefore, you won’t sabotage relationships that are going well or block others from getting close to you. Plus, confidence (not arrogance) is one of the most attractive qualities. Show up on dates knowing who you are and what you deserve.
6. I will practice kindness (to myself and others). There are all sorts of awkward situations that happen in dating, from running late to negotiating who pays to random misunderstandings to wondering how to let someone down gently. Maybe you avoid communicating that you don’t see a future after five dates and go completely MIA because confrontation makes you anxious. Or you are cancelled on last minute because your date is “sick,” but you’ve been burned before so you quickly assume you are being lied to and rejected. This spirals out of control and next thing you know, you find yourself acting out and lashing out over text. It’s easy to be cynical about these sorts of things but please remember to take a pause and be kind!
7. I will work through my fears around intimacy. If you tend to date with walls up, keep your distance in relationships, or find it challenging to trust others, you may have a fear of intimacy. Without judging yourself, it is essential to invest in better understanding and healing your fears, to ensure that a great partner has a chance at reaching your heart. This year, commit to examining what is getting in the way of love, what may be keeping you single, and how fear and anxiety may be playing a role. Working with a professional mental health provider is a valuable way to get support with any trust, abandonment, attachment or intimacy issues.
8. I will accept my dates for who they are and believe them when they show their true colors. I will not try to mold anyone or change them into my ideal partner. If you are dating with an agenda to find someone you can carve into the perfect partner, you’ve got dating all wrong. Dating is about getting to know people for who they are and then deciding if there is compatibility and alignment of lifestyle, values, personality, and goals. Also, if you make up excuses for others despite clear behavior patterns (he is way too busy with work to text me and say hi for days on end or she didn’t mean to be rude to the waiter), think twice and reassess if this person is right for you.
9. I will stay present and leave the past behind. It’s about to be a new year. There’s no better time to ensure you are not triggered in the present due to a lack of resolution of the past. If you assume all men will treat you poorly because an ex or primary male figure did just that, the past is still at play. If you find yourself comparing your new girlfriend to your ex who you put on a pedestal, the past is still at play. If you are absolutely sure you will never get a third date because you haven’t succeeded and been on one before, the past is still at play. Be careful about making projections and over-generalizations. Commit to neutralizing the past, being open to a healthier, happier future, and finding the lessons. Leave the rest behind!
10. I will make dating a priority while enjoying my life.
Your relationship status is not everything. Make sure you are replenishing your energy through your favorite activities, connecting with your support system, and carving in time for relaxation and fun. Commit to living a full life and not relying on dating to bring you happiness. Sign up for a class, learn a new skill, plan a vacation, join a book club, go hiking, meditate, cook nutritious food for yourself, etc. Call a friend who lives across the country, visit a loved one, read your favorite author’s new book, listen to podcasts- whatever feeds your soul and helps you be your most confident self.