Well, another year has gone by and I still haven’t found The One. I’ve participated in the dating game, winning no solid prizes yet. However, I have gained invaluable insight into my own priorities. At the risk of repeating a cliche, it is absolutely true that you should work on yourself before you look for a mate. You must prepare yourself to be a good partner to a good partner.
First, take time to identify, face and understand any of your personal issues. The issues might not be related to romance or intimacy, but they can certainly carry over into your romantic life. They may impact how you see yourself, how you treat others, and what kind of treatment you accept. It can be useful to look back on previous relationships and think about what went wrong. If you were treated unfairly or ignored, try to learn from it and avoid repeating that pattern. Were you too trusting and let people use you, or were you just unpleasant to be around so people chose to avoid you? Did you feel too lonely and end up clinging to people, even if they didn’t feel the same? Did you just get unlucky and encounter some bad seeds? Negative relationships are never your fault, but it is your responsibility to break the cycle and demand the respect you deserve.
Give some thought to what kind of person you’d appreciate, but don’t be so specific that you eliminate everyone (besides your favorite celebrity, am I right?). Personality and communication are integral. You won’t know which person you deeply connect with until you meet them. You should maintain standards for how your partner treats you. Which values are important to you? Loyalty, responsibility, love for family, work ethic? See how your date matches up and don’t tolerate someone who crosses your boundaries. It’s understandable, natural even, to have physical preferences, but keep it general and try to see people for how they treat you, not just their expressive eyes or sculpted physique. Yes, I prefer boys with nice jawlines and wide shoulders, but I won’t lose sleep over little details.
That being said, it’s okay to dream big! One rather toxic attitude I’ve held was “staying in your league” or “being realistic.” You don’t have to settle for people you’re barely attracted to just because you assume that’s all you can get. Instead, you should work on yourself! This is mainly for your own benefit, but also so you can attract more people and widen your selection. I’m talking physical AND mental improvement.
The phrases “work on yourself” or “make an effort” are so vague—where to even start? I’ve asked myself this question many times. While it looks different for everyone, there are some general tips, such as working/studying hard, participating in the community, exercising, and eating healthier. Volunteer and join events. Get your responsibilities in order, try new hobbies, work on character traits such as empathy, communication, and sense of humor. Don’t obsess over your appearance, but pay reasonable attention to personal hygiene and grooming. These actions get you ahead in life while increasing your chance of meeting like-minded people.
Meet a lot of people but DO NOT think of everyone as a potential romantic partner. Learn how to enjoy, respect, and relate to people, even if you don’t feel an attraction. Go out and try new activities because you’re interested, not just if you think someone special might be there. Of course, they might be, but don’t let that be the driving force—it can be discouraging and distracting if you don’t meet someone right away. It’s hard to find a good person while sitting at home alone, so try things and be patient. This particular piece of advice may be unreasonable given the present pandemic; proceed with caution.
Looking for my soulmate has been a long journey. Funny thing is, while I was figuring out what I appreciate in other people, I ended up discovering so much more about myself. I’ve gained an appreciation of my own strengths and shortcomings, and how I connect with people. I’ve developed clear, reasonable expectations for myself and for my partner—no settling for anyone who doesn’t meet these standards. I look forward to a wonderful, mutually supportive relationship someday—and you should too.