Step 1: Reset Your Expectations
Many beliefs about dating, love, and the opposite sex are based on myths and misconceptions that are entirely untrue and not supported by research.
Changing your beliefs is the very first step to finding that special someone and building a strong, supportive relationship.
After a relationship ends, there’s no special timeline you need to follow before you start dating again. Do what feels right for you.
Dating your “opposite” may be exciting, but it doesn’t make for a long-lasting love. Instead, look for someone who shares your beliefs, values, and lifestyle.
Opposite-sex friends are a great support system, and they provide invaluable insights as to what your date may be thinking or feeling.
When you are dating someone, it’s best to disclose information about yourself bit by bit, instead of all at once. Sharing too much, too soon pushes people away.
Your romantic beliefs about love and relationships impact your behaviors and first impressions of others. It is important to understand that men have more romanticized beliefs than women.
Men tend to fall in love faster, harder, and sooner in a relationship than women do. Women are selective and cautious, and they hold back their feelings until they feel secure in the relationship.
Conflict can be good for a relationship, as long as disagreements are handled in a healthy and constructive way. Fighting or arguing with your partner means you are tackling important issues, rather than looking the other way.
Breakups don’t need to be filled with drama. By remaining calm and rational, you’ll be able to learn from the relationship, and apply its lessons to your next one.
Step 2: Recast Your Past and Start with a Clean Slate
Strong emotions about past relationships can prevent you from being fully present in a new relationship. It’s important to work through or unpack your emotions and feelings and neutralize your attachment to the past.
Once you see your past relationship clearly, you may recognize that it was unhealthy. Or you may see that it wasn’t as perfect as you had remembered. These realizations will justify your feelings, and help you to make sense of what happened.
Finding an outlet for your emotional stress will help you mentally and physically. Exercise, meet new people, help others, be creative…or just vent and let it all out!
Telling other people about your breakup or divorce will give meaning to the end of the relationship and help you to process your emotions.
Don’t blame your ex or yourself for the breakup. Blame the relationship or the situation. Reassigning blame will help bring your emotions to neutral.
Take a different view of the relationship, and flip the negatives to neutrals.
Clear out emotionally charged mementos from your home, car, and office to cut your ties to the past. Set boundaries with your ex’s family if you need to. It will help you to find new love.
Step 3: Commit to a 21-Day Action Plan
Making one small change to your habits or behavior will lead to higher self-esteem and better relationships.
Deciding what you want to change—and making a detailed plan—will help you to follow through and chart your progress. Stick with your plan for at least twenty-one days; it takes time to get comfortable with a new routine or change in your life.
divorced singles who made at least one significant change—who cut their work hours, talked with others, changed their “money vocabulary,” worked on their communication, or learned how to handle conflict—were the most successful in finding a new partner.
Cutting back your work hours, or changing what you do with the spare time you do have, will open up opportunities to explore new interests and meet new people.
Regularly talking with other people gives you valuable insight; it lets you see how other people see you. It’s also a healthy way to release what you are feeling and thinking inside.
Learning how to talk about money and examining your own relationship with money will help you to avoid money issues in your next relationship.
Improving how you communicate in relationships, both through your words and your body language, will lead to a happy and healthy relationship.
How well or badly an argument goes has more to do with how you handle conflict than the conflict itself. Don’t storm off, yell, or explode. Instead, focus on what can change, acknowledge the other person’s feelings, and apologize if you need to.
Step 4: Renew the Real You
Singles who successfully find new love focus on their own needs and desires and on liking themselves, rather than worrying about what other people think of them.
Key life values are the parts of life that are most important to you. They include views on money, family and children, faith and spirituality, careers, health and fitness, and your general outlook on life.
Sharing similar key life values with a partner will help your relationship to flourish and grow.
In your past relationship, you may have put yourself last. Put yourself first and become the person you’ve always wanted to be. Doing so will make you happier now and in your next relationship.
You can successfully make changes in your life by (1) choosing a goal, (2) making gradual changes, (3) setting up reminders and affirmations, (4) practicing, and (5) recognizing what you accomplish.
Focusing on your desires, interests, likes, and needs will help you to discover the type of person who’s right for you.
Step 5: Take a Risk and Make It Real
The top three ways to find that special someone are (1) group activities, (2) blind dates, and (3) online dating.
Repeatedly seeing someone, even if it’s on a casual basis, increases the chances that you’ll have positive feelings for each other—a phenomenon known as the “mere exposure effect.”
Joining a group that meets regularly is a great way to meet someone new: it takes away a lot of pressure, you’ll see the person often, and you’ll have a shared interest to talk about.
Blind dates are often successful because your friends and family will usually try to fix you up with someone who’s similar to you or who shares your interests.
Online dating is a great way to test the waters—to see if you click with someone—before you go out on a date.
Men and women who post more honest and personal information in their online dating profiles receive better responses (and have more successful dating experiences). Even though it’s tempting, avoid stretching the truth.
The impression you make on a first date is very important. It influences the success of the date and it forms your date’s impression of you from that point forward, due to the primacy effect—a function of how our minds process new information. A really good first date will increase your odds of a second date and a long-term relationship.
For a great first date, plan ahead, keep the conversation balanced, use rapport talk to establish a connection, laugh and have fun, put your best foot forward, use body language to show that you’ve interested, don’t talk about your ex, and focus on the positive.
When you are dating, the line between friends and lovers can be blurry, and remaining “just friends” may be challenging. Ask yourself what you want out of the friendship, let your friend know, and ask about your friend’s feelings in return.
Many singles feel anxious about sex when they reenter the dating world. Sex should always be on your terms.
Waiting to have sex, educating yourself, and openly talking with you partner will make your sex life more fulfilling.
Step 6: Keep It Together over the Long Haul
To determine if a relationship is right for you, use “The Love Doctor’s Two-Part Safety Check”: (1) identify if it’s really love or just infatuation, and (2) ask yourself if you trust each other, share life values, and manage conflict in a healthy way.
At the beginning of a relationship, your body’s biological chemicals take over, causing you to overlook your partner’s faults. Scientific studies show it can take eighteen to thirty-six months before you’ll be able to see your partner for who he or she really is.
While infatuation and lust are exciting, companionate love—a love built on support, intimacy, and friendship—is what keeps couples together over time.
Involving your partner with your family, thinking in “we” versus “I,” revealing and sharing highly personal information, and making big decisions together are all signs of companionate love.
Whether you trust your partner is a crucial question to ask yourself before you take your relationship to the next level. Have a “trust chat” with your partner to see where each of you stands on touchy issues like commitment, fidelity, and keeping secrets.
Talk with your partner about each other’s key life values. Do they match? They should be compatible before you jump into a long-term commitment.
Do you and your partner fight fair? Cursing, screaming, and yelling are destructive ways to handle conflict, and they will make you and your partner twice as likely to break up over time.
Passion fades with time, but trying new things, adding the element of surprise, kicking up your adrenaline, touching each other, and getting away from it all will keep you bonded.
Small everyday issues—not the big ones—are what break couples apart. Address issues as they happen.
Understanding how men and women think will make your relationship stronger. Women need to talk issues through; men need constant affirmation. Women express their feelings through words; men use actions.
The simplest and most effective way to keep your relationship on the right path is to have fun together.