The New Year brings a fresh opportunity for us to keep the resolutions made as the confetti flew over Times Square. These goals typically include losing weight, spending less money, working harder and, for the single people out there, improving your love life. If, romantically speaking, 2014 didn't go as well as you'd hoped, it's time to revamp your tactics and kick any bad decisions from last year to the curb.
- Family involvement: As close as you may be with your family, remember that you are the one in charge of your relationship and its status. Even if your younger siblings are planning weddings and choosing kids' names, don't let their timetable pressure you to commit to a relationship just to keep up pace. Familial prodding should not add urgency when deciding on committing to "the one." Coupling with the wrong person is not a move forward. Know that your family's enthusiasm will genuinely heighten when the right partner is in your life.
- Your biological clock: Though the biological clock can be heard ticking as it spins around the dial, it is important to maintain focus on finding the right person to spend your life with, and not be bound to an artificial timetable. Yes, it is a consideration to think of your age when one's future kids are moving into dorm rooms, but having babies with the wrong person will not help win the battle with father time.
- Always be willing to give a second chance. Unless the first date was an absolute disaster, and it can be said with complete certainty that you do not ever want to see them again, don't shut the door to a better impression the second time around. Truth be told, second and third dates are much better indicators of compatibility than the nervousness of the initial meeting. Be open-minded.
- Lust versus love. We tend to be visual creatures, so naturally when first meeting someone, the initial attraction is all about the physical chemistry. Once the adrenaline rush of a relationship settles in, the priority is to be sure that you are attracted to the whole package. Beauty is skin deep, and by itself, beauty is not enough to keep your heart happy. Fundamentally speaking, the best of both worlds means to be with someone that, beyond elevating your libido, elevates your soul.
- The past is over. Before starting a new relationship, do the necessary house cleaning by making sure that ties are officially over with previous suitors. Clean breaks are needed to pave the way for a successful future. Take the time to focus on yourself and what you are looking for in a relationship before moving on to dating again. Get out a pen and paper (or your smart phone) and make note of what is important to you. Determine what your true non-negotiables and benchmarks are. Do you want marriage or an exclusive relationship? Children? Having this clarity will help in projecting what your priorities are to those you meet.
The three words: We all want to hear that someone loves us. Naturally people love to be in love, but offering up these three words too soon is not a good idea. There is no predetermined time frame to tell the one you are seeing "I love you." Doling out false emotions will ultimately do more harm than good. Don't feel pressured into saying what you may not mean.
- Overnights: Whether we want to admit it or not, sex is a game changer. To many it means some form of exclusivity and the relationship is usually intensified. Simply put, if you're not ready to sleep together, then don't. Awkward or uncomfortable situations can be avoided by not waiting until entering your date's apartment before stating your true feelings regarding the potential for intimacy.
Being in a relationship that is loving is great. Being with the wrong person and feeling like you are in an uphill battle is not. We all want to be with someone that is the embodiment of our dreams, but what all dreams have in common is that the light of day inevitably comes and awakens us.
In reality, knowing your benchmarks and deal breakers will help guide your path in entering a new romance with eyes wide open. Do not think of a relationship that did not work as a failure. Being aware of what is not a good fit for you will actually help open new doors to finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, and make you that much more appreciative of them when they enter your life.