Are you single and looking for love? Are you finding it hard to meet the right person? I’ve been the person who struggled while dating one or multiple people. Like you, I found how easy it is to become discouraged and buy into the destructive myths about dating and relationships.
Single life has its own rewards: the freedom to pursue your own hobbies and interests, operating on your own schedule, enjoying your own company, and appreciating the quiet moments of solitude. However, if you’re ready to share your life with someone and want to build a lasting, worthwhile relationship, life as a single person can seem frustrating.
Emotional baggage can make finding the right romantic partner a difficult journey. You may be skeptical of relationships if you grew up without a healthy example in your home. You could be a serial dater and don’t know how to make a relationship last. You could just be super horny and don’t know how to say “hello” without wanting sex. Are you attracting the worst person for you? Do you keep making the same destructive mistakes? Or have you just given up on the inside?
No matter the challenge, if you want to find the right love you can. These 8 tips can redirect your path to finding the relationship you deserve.
The first step to finding love is to reassess some of the misconceptions about dating and relationships that may be preventing you from finding lasting love. When we start looking for a long-term partner or enter into a romantic relationship, many of us do so with a predetermined set of (often unrealistic) expectations.
We map out in our minds how the person should look and behave, how the relationship should progress, and the roles each partner should fulfill. These expectations are shaped by our family history, conversations with friends, past experiences, and even portrayals of love in movies and TV shows. Retaining many of these unrealistic expectations can make any potential partner seem inadequate and any new relationship feel disappointing.
It’s time to distinguish between what you want and what you need in a partner. Wants are negotiable, needs are not.
Wants include things like occupation, intellect, and physical attributes such as height, weight, and hair color. Even if certain traits seem crucially important at first, over time you’ll often find that you’ve been needlessly limiting your choices. For example, it may be more important to find someone who is:
- Curious rather than extremely intelligent. Curious people tend to grow smarter over time, while those who are bright may languish intellectually if they lack curiosity.
- Sensual rather than sexy.
- Caring rather than beautiful or handsome.
- A little mysterious rather than glamorous.
- Humorous rather than wealthy.
- From a family with similar values to yours, rather than someone from a specific ethnic or social background.
Needs are different than wants in that needs are those qualities that matter to you most, such as values, ambitions, or goals in life. These are probably not the things you can find out about a person by eyeing them on the street, reading their profile on a dating site, or sharing a quick cocktail at a bar before last call. They can consist of:
- Mutual respect
- Separate identities
- Good communication
- A sense of playfulness/fondness
Dating Tip 2: Keep it in Perspective
- Don’t make looking for a relationship your main priority. You still have things you enjoy and are developing: your career, health, and relationships with family and friends. Focus on keeping your life balanced and yourself happy. You’ll end up being a more interesting person when you do meet someone special.
- First impressions aren’t always reliable. You’ve been taught that first impressions are everything. While it holds some validity, it can be faulty if your first impression is someone’s online presence. You still have to take time to get to know a person and experience being with them in diverse situations. For example, how does this person handle the pressure of being tired, frustrated, or hungry? Things to consider.
- Be honest about your own flaws and shortcomings. If Beyonce can admit to having flaws, you can too. Everyone has them. For your relationship to last, love has to be about who the person is not who you want them to become. Besides, what you consider a flaw may actually be something another person finds quirky and appealing. By shedding all pretense, you’ll encourage the other person to do the same, which can lead to an honest, more fulfilling relationship.
Dating Tip 3: Be Genuine and Connect
You want to put on your best face any time you step out of the house. It’s only natural. You want to accentuate your best parts and conceal your flaws. Ultimately, you want your date to like you. Even though you’re trying to impress, it’s important to be your authentic self and be fully present in the moment.
- Focus outward, not inward. Start the date by focusing your attention on their actions and words, rather than on your internal thoughts. Staying fully present in the moment will help take your mind off worries and insecurities.
- Be curious. No one likes to talk to a showboat. Instead of trying to promote yourself, like it’s a job interview, open yourself to learning about them. When you’re truly curious about someone else’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, stories, and opinions, it shows—and they’ll like you for it. You’ll come across as far more attractive and interesting. If you have no curiosity, the relationship has no hope.
- Be genuine. Take a deep breath and let your ego cool down a bit. Let the real you shine. It’s better to see if they like you now than to spend a year of your life only to realize you made a bad decision. No, you don’t have to take your wig off at the table, but you can definitely leave the mask at home.
- Pay attention. Listen, baby. Listen. There is nothing more attractive than a person who listens to you. While it makes you look good to listen, it also makes you smart. You want to gain as much information to decide if this thing has a chance. By paying close attention to what they say, do, and how they interact, you’ll quickly get to know them. Little things go a long way, such as remembering someone’s preferences, the stories they’ve told you, and what’s going on in their life.
- Put your smartphone away. Don’t schedule the date if you have to stay on your phone. A date is the opposite of multitasking. You can’t truly pay attention or forge a genuine connection when attention is divided. Nonverbal communication—subtle gestures, expressions, and other visual cues—tell us a lot about another person, but they’re easy to miss unless you’re tuned in.
There are plenty of online dating, singles events, and matchmaking services like speed dating that are enjoyable for some people. For me, they feel more like high-pressure job interviews, and there is a big difference between finding the right career and finding lasting love.
Instead of searching dating sites or hanging out in bars, redefine your single life. This is a great opportunity to expand your social circle and participate in new events. Make fun your main focus. By pursuing activities you enjoy and putting yourself in new environments, you’ll meet new people who share similar interests and values. Even if you don’t find someone special, you will still have enjoyed yourself and maybe forged new friendships as well.
Dating Tip 5: Use Rejection as Direction
Dating will always involve rejection at some point. Either you will reject someone or be rejected. It’s an inevitable part of dating, and never fatal. The worst it will do is bruise your ego. The best way to treat rejection is as a form of direction. Rejection is like the roadblock that tells you, “This way is not for you.” You ought to stop and say, “Thank you.” Now you don’t have to waste any more time.
We all know red-flag behaviors. They let us know that a relationship probably won’t lead in a positive direction. Trust your instincts and pay close attention to how the other person makes you feel. If you tend to feel insecure, ashamed, or undervalued, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.
Common relationship red flags:
- The relationship is alcohol dependent. You only communicate well—laugh, talk, make love—when one or both of you are under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
- There’s trouble making a commitment. For some people, commitment is much more difficult than others. It’s harder for them to trust others or to understand the benefits of a long-term relationship because of previous experiences or an unstable home life growing up.
- Nonverbal communication is off. Instead of wanting to connect with you, the other person’s attention is on other things like their phone or the TV.
- Jealousy about outside interests. One partner doesn’t like the other spending time with friends and family members outside of the relationship.
- Controlling behavior. There is a desire on the part of one person to control the other, and stop them from having independent thoughts and feelings.
- The relationship is exclusively sexual. There is no interest in the other person other than a physical one. A meaningful and fulfilling relationship depends on more than just good sex.
- No one-on-one time. One partner only wants to be with the other as part of a group of people. If there’s no desire to spend quality time alone with you, outside of the bedroom, it can signify a greater issue.
Dating Tip 7: Make Mutual Trust a Must
Mutual trust is a cornerstone of any close personal relationship. Trust doesn’t happen overnight; it develops over time as your connection with another person deepens. However, if you’re someone with trust issues—someone who’s been betrayed, traumatized, or abused in the past, you may find it impossible to trust others and find lasting love.
If you have trust issues, your romantic relationships will be dominated by fear—fear of being betrayed by the other person, fear of being let down, or fear of feeling vulnerable. But it is possible to learn to trust others. By working with the right therapist or love coach, you can identify the source of your mistrust and explore ways to build richer, more fulfilling relationships.
Finding the right person is just the beginning of the journey, not the destination. In order to move from casual dating to a committed, loving relationship, you need to nurture the new connection.
To nurture your relationship:
- Invest in it. No relationship will run smoothly without regular attention, and the more you invest in each other, the more you’ll grow. Find activities you can enjoy together and commit to spending the time to partake in them, even when you’re busy or stressed.
- Communicate openly. Your partner is not a mind reader, so tell them how you feel. Stop assuming your partner should know what you want or need. Express your needs, fears, and desires so the bond between you will become stronger and deeper.
- Resolve conflict by fighting fair. No matter how you approach the differences in your relationship, it’s important that you aren’t fearful of conflict. You need to feel safe to express the issues that bother you and to be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation, or insisting on being right.
- Be open to change. All relationships change over time. What you want from a relationship at the beginning may be very different from what you and your partner want a few months or years down the road. Accepting change in a healthy relationship should not only make you happier, but also make you a better person: kinder, more empathic, and more generous.
The Simple Truth
It’s easy to become bitter when you feel like love is not working in your favor. But Cupid isn’t your enemy. The forces of love are not against you. Love is easy, but connecting two unique individuals in a bond that lasts a lifetime takes work. If you feel you deserve that love then take the right steps to find it.
When looking for lasting love, forget what looks right, forget what you think should be right, and forget what your friends, parents, or other people think is right, and ask yourself: Does the relationship feel right to me? Only you know what is best for your journey ahead, matching your dreams, goals, and ambitions. If it brings you joy, bring it along. Happy dating!