One year, my New Year’s resolution was to not have sex for an entire year. You might not have as extreme dating New Year’s resolutions to make as I did, but let me tell you: Making that resolution was life changing for me. If you’re wondering, though, no, I did not make it an entire 12 months without having sex. But I did go more than a year without being in a relationship, which was my reason for making that somewhat unrealistic resolution in the first place. Prior to setting this intention, I hadn’t been single for several years. My resolution finally broke the cycle of me dating every single person I hooked up with.
Having that time to myself gave me the space I needed to get my priorities together and become better attuned to what I needed to nurture myself. I was able to pour the tenderness and care that I expended on relationships back into myself.
If singleness is not your goal, setting resolutions for healthier dating habits can still change your romantic life. The best way to really hone in on what would bring you happiness is to make a list of what you want in a partnership. Focus on your own strengths, and the areas in which you want to improve. Then, start taking actions every day to manifest that vision for your love life.
Here are some ideas to get you started, and how to actually stick to them.
1. Resolve To Change The Way You Meet People
When you get offline, you start to notice the people in your social circle whom you never really paid attention to before. You might work harder to connect with new acquaintances and bond with friends of friends. And you might find that your schedule is freed up to pursue new hobbies that really interest you. If you feel like the internet’s well has run dry, connect with the people who are actually around you, and you might be surprised who you find.
On the flip side, if you’re deciding to give online dating a bigger shot in 2018, go all in. Set up a profile on as many apps as you’re comfortable with, and whenever you find yourself sulking about your singlehood, make it a point to swipe a little on each app. You never know what connection you might make.
2. Set Your Boundaries
What dating and relationship patterns would you like to break in the new year? Do you always end up in noncommittal, friends-with-benefits types of arrangements, when you really want to be with someone who’s willing to be steady? Do you repeatedly practice monogamy, when you actually identify as polyamorous?
Identify the ways in which you haven’t been true to yourself in previous relationships and write them down. Then, when you start dating someone, revisit the list as your relationship progresses. It’s all too easy to fall into something that you don’t actually want because you have feelings for someone. Checking back in with your intentions can help you make sure that, when something feels right, it’s actually right.
3. Resolve To Date Yourself Better
I don’t buy into that “nobody’s going to love you until you love yourself” BS. Plenty of people — friends, family, and lovers — have continued to love me even when I was down on myself. But I do think that being the best partner to yourself that you can be significantly improves your dating life, because it really teaches you how to be alone with yourself.
I’m not saying that you have to cut yourself off from dating in order to better date yourself. I’m just saying that you should take yourself on more dates. Go to the movies alone. Ask yourself what you want for dinner tonight, and then, cook it. You might not always love yourself, and that’s OK. But you and yourself are still stuck together forever. When you find ways to nurture the relationship you have with yourself, it helps protect you from toxic people who might come into your life. It will also help you create secure attachments in your romantic pursuits, because you won’t feel as dependent on a relationship to sustain you. Even when you’re down and full of self-loathing, treat yourself like your own best partner and watch the results.
4. Identify What You Want And Pursue It Unapologetically
Imagine your ideal partner. Not what they look like, not what they do for money, but what they actually bring you. What does a partnership actually mean to you? What kind of future do you want to grow together? Describe it in as full detail as possible, and don’t hold back. No one is going to have to see this but you.
It’s best if you keep the qualities general. You’re much more likely to find someone who wants to travel than someone who wants to go to Venice with you next month. But when you have the qualities you are looking for, consider the list your own private treasure map. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to begin actually looking for it. Here’s wishing you the happiest hunting in 2018.