New year, new me! Sound familiar? Of course it does. It's a mantra everyone at this time of year hammers into themselves. No more time-wasting. No more excuses. Nothing is going to get in my way. This year is definitely going to be my year.
But change doesn't just fall into your lap. Some people set unrealistic targets (you are never going to be another six inches taller), and many don't stick with their resolutions long enough for results to show.
If you're single, and you want to not be single, you have to take action and not just take what life throws your way. Or as the old wisdom intones: 'you have to know where you are going if you are actually going to get there'. There are many successful online dating websites now available, which have made finding like-minded people easier than ever, but the necessity of a focused mind committed to personal upheaval must not be overlooked.
1. Define What You Really Want
Some people make extensive lists for their New Year's resolutions, but don't feel pressured to be as ambitious. Make a quick inventory of what you're looking for in a mate, and what about yourself you'd like to improve. Then don't look at it for a week and come back to it. Re-assess what you've written, and try to shorten the list. Repeat this until you have simple, short list of essential wants that are feasible to achieve.
If you're having trouble making a decision, maybe try online dating? Many websites put an emphasis on getting their users to think very carefully about what they want in a partner, and also provide good relationship advice.
False wants are the ruin of many a new relationship, so keep the list with you at all times to remind you: it will help you to see the potential in people, rather than relying solely on physical attraction.
2. Consider Yourself
When I was struggling with depression, I was given one very devastatingly simple piece of advice: compliment yourself once a day. The simplest things worked best. Smile more often. Say 'Hi' to kindly strangers. Give yourself permission to splurge on something indulgent. It wasn't a miracle cure, but gave me more ballast than a truck full of prescription drugs.
The most significant person in every relationship is you. If you can't find the goodness within yourself, unhealthy and potentially destructive relationships will follow in your wake. It's simple: if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of someone else.
Conversely, don't feel obliged to be positive all the time. It's ok to be angry, sad or frustrated, and never behave as if you are entitled to happiness that has not been forthcoming. Try to cultivate a good relationship with yourself and the rest will spill over.
3. Don't Divide then by Now
This is change, remember, so - in the (almost) immortal words of Tina Turner - what's the past got to do with it? Refrain from dwelling on yesterday's bad news and re-channel that energy momentum into meeting someone new. If you have any residual feelings or anger leftover from your last relationship - nip them in the bud right now.
Past regrets are purposeless emotions: whatever happened, happened. It's pure narcissism to assume that had one small detail been different then your life would be significantly better now. It takes more than the flutter of butterfly wings to tornado a relationship - many unavoidable factors come into play.
It's not an easy process. Many find keeping diaries and memorial scrapbooks a cathartic way of letting go, but make sure they're kept somewhere inaccessible, like the pokiest corner of an attic, to remove the temptation to read over them nostalgically (such as after an argument with your current partner). If this doesn't work, seek help from friends, or a therapist. Just don't go into a new relationship without closing the last one first.
4. Give Your Dates a Chance
First impressions count for a lot, but going on a date puts the best of us in an excited state. It's easier to judge character in people you are not physically attracted to because you are indifferent; therefore it's easier to see with an objective perspective. This clarity of mind gets warped when put against the complex bodily and emotional impulses our rational minds have to fight when we meet someone new.
The rule is: don't lose interest after one bad date - try to date someone two times before making a firm decision about the person, and be willing to give the benefit of doubt. On the other hand, don't make excuses for handsome jerks either. If your date is exceptionally offensive, albeit just once in an otherwise perfect evening, address the issue or call it day. These episodes never happen just the once, and you'll be subjected to them again in the future.
5. Ignore the Deadlines
Most importantly, don't rush! Dating is a slow process, so keep your eyes away from the wall clock. Everyone has their own unique path, and if you compare yourself to the perceived successes of friends, siblings and co-workers - you'll do yourself injury.
Feelings are not facts. You may feel like nothing is happening, but ask your friends - they may well beg to differ and direct you to your newly-won confidence.
Some suggest dating more than one person at a time might help, taking that this-has-to-work-out-or-else pressure off of you that can sink new relationships. Also: try new things. Make it your goal to rethink the kind of men you are dating and be more open to pursuing different kinds of relationships. For example, if you are a serial online dater, try dating more offline (and vice-versa). But, truthfully, don't make concrete plans to be married before you're 30, or anything likewise.
I once met an athlete with the body of an Adonis who didn't lose his virginity until his late 20s. "I didn't think it was unusual. I still don't. Who's to say when it should happen?" The same is true of love. It will pick you up, and throw you down, and sometimes just sputter and jam like the bad wheel on a supermarket trolley, but the end-result is what truly matters.
So quit being a sucker who thinks they can make love happen - just let it happen.
Bonus Step - Let Us Know What Dating Resolutions You Are Planning On
It is all very well us providing advice, but we are also interested in hearing about your own experiences. How about sharing your resolutions with us? And tips for sticking to them? We look forward to hearing all about your New Year's plans and dating resolutions – past and present….