1. Chill out. Don’t start or stay in a relationship that doesn’t feel right just because every person you know is shacking up, announcing their engagement, or popping out babies. Fill this time with things that make you happy. Resist the urge to continue seeing someone because it’s safe, you don’t want to be alone on your birthday, or you need a date to your cousin’s wedding. Your “person” will arrive at the right time.
2. Speaking of your future “person,” stop searching for them all day, every day. It’s not a 24/7 scavenger hunt. Becoming too focused on finding your future soul mate can take over your life. Your friends will soon stop listening. You will become boring and sad. Finding love can seem like a game of musical chairs. You hit a certain age, the music stops, and you’re forced to grab the next available one you see. Have faith that whomever you want to end up with is simultaneously dating the wrong people, having lots of mixed experiences, and figuring out that you’re the type of person for them, too.
3. Stop chasing. If only I followed this advice starting in fifth grade. Who knew that telling someone you’re interested, getting no response, and then continuing to show that person more interest was not always effective?
4. Long distance sucks and is continuously challenging. Unless there is a certain end date, it’s best not to engage in it. Someone who loves you will not tolerate being a few hundred miles away indefinitely.
5. Stay away from the good-looking, unattainable types with great smiles who won’t commit. If they even remotely mention that they are “seeing,” “hanging out with,” or “talking to” anybody else but you, take that at face value and label them “TAKEN.” If you’re willing to get involved with someone after they tell you that they are already involved with somebody else, they know you’re willing to accept less than an exclusive relationship. You are so much better than that.
6. Take a second look at the dorky, nice prospects who are interested in you. If one of these shy people asks you out, say yes, even if you’re not initially attracted. At the very least, it will make their day. As you get older, you’ll find it’s way more important to trust, have a strong friendship with, and be able to rely on a partner versus just being attracted to them. Just because you go out with someone doesn’t mean you have to get married.
7. If you’re feeling down about getting dumped, it doesn’t mean you have to dress the part.
8. Sometimes, the best nights happen when you’re exhausted and just want to stay home in your pajamas and watch a Breaking Bad marathon. Your friend calls begging you to join them at a party but you’re just itching to see what Walter White will do next. Go to the party. Heisenberg can wait.
9. Plan ahead for unexpected fun. Always have a “going out” outfit ready to go in your closet for those spur of the moment decisions to attend something fabulous. Keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge and a good bottle of wine at the ready in case you have an unexpected guest or love interest stop by.
10. Don’t play the supporting part. Be the leading role of your own movie. Don’t sit around playing second fiddle or cleaning up the messes of drama queens.
11. Avoid one-night stands. Even with the ones with the charismatic, beautiful person who you’ve been admiring from afar and who make your heart do back flips.
12. When someone tells you that things “don’t feel right,” that they “don’t want to hurt you,” or that they “don’t want to ruin your friendship,” it means they are not interested. Move on. If this person changes his or her mind, you will hear from them again. No need to sit around waiting.
13. Make time for your family and friends. Even if the new person you’re seeing is the only thing you can think or talk about. If there’s a choice between hitting up a bar and taking your grandmother out to dinner, go to dinner with your grandmother. The bar will always be there.
14. Stay healthy and sane. Don’t do crazy things that you’re not interested in doing just because a new love interest is doing it. This includes recreational drugs, skinny-dipping in freezing cold places, and tolerating anyone making you feel less than the person you are.
15. Trust is everything. If you haven’t heard from your significant other in hours, and they are not answering their phone or returning your texts, it’s acceptable to assume that they are cheating on your or up to no good. A trustworthy person makes you feel confident in your relationship. They also don’t go missing for long stretches of time without a really good excuse.
16. It doesn’t have to be so difficult. The best relationships are easy. It shouldn’t be so hard to keep them going. If you’re constantly thinking of something to say to your significant other that won’t set him or her off, that’s a red flag. Even a strong relationship will have its ups and down. But you’ll get through these bumps stronger than ever in a relationship worth salvaging.
17. For every minute that you’re settling for the wrong person, it’s less time with the right person. It’s also preventing new love interests from coming into your life.
18. Don’t make major life changes for someone who’s not 100% committed to you. These include moving cities, changing jobs, and drastic haircuts.
19. Date a lot of different people and learn what things you can’t stand and what you can’t live without.
20. You won’t be single forever. Statistically speaking, you’re bound to find someone. So breathe and go about your business. Do the things that you love to do. Keep busy and be open for opportunity. When your person comes along, you’ll be a happier, more confident mate.