Rita Watson: This spring, clean up your relationships, too

Springtime is not just about tidying up one’s house. It is also a time to take stock of one’s relationships and, perhaps, if you are looking for love online, to clean up your dating profile.
Spring fever and spring cleaning share a common denominator — letting go. In one case it is letting go of objects, in another it is freeing oneself from emotional baggage to make way for new love. Although the Pew Research Center noted a more positive attitude toward online dating in a February update, it reported that “the vast majority of relationships still begin offline.”
Clearing out objects and clutter is easy; clearing negative emotions is a bit more challenging. With objects, you can make a “To Do” list and cross off each item that you toss or put away. What can you do about emotional baggage?
— Let go of worn-out friendships and relationships with negative people.
— Break old patterns that hinder your happiness, such as saying “yes,” when you really mean “no.”
— Become more forgiving of yourself.
— Be more forgiving of others without losing your sense of self.
— Let go of angry feelings toward those who have hurt you, those who broke your heart in the past.
— Express gratitude more often. Researchers tell us that by expressing gratitude for one minute three times a day or three minutes a day for 45 consecutive days, we can build a new pathway in our brains to outweigh negativity.
If you are in a relationship, take advantage of springtime to speak more kindly to one another. Spend more time together. Set up a date night at least once a month. Reminisce about the happiness you felt when you first met. Send a love note via snail mail.
With regard to finding new love, where does one meet a partner? Based on research and anecdotally, about 60 percent of couples are introduced through mutual friends, volunteerism, church, family, neighborhood or work. About 40 percent meet in neighborhood gathering spots or online.
How successful are online relationships in terms of commitment? Pew found that “5 percent of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship say they met their significant other online. … Even among Americans who have been with their spouse or partner for five years or less, fully 88 percent say that they met their partner offline — without the help of a dating site.”
What is important here is that men and women are often looking for love in the spring. Perhaps instead of just seeking love, you might begin by showing love to family, friends and others with whom you spend your day. And then give yourself the gift of time to appreciate May’s flowers and the songbirds’ serenade.

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