Ah, the New Year. It reeks of opportunity, doesn’t it? This year, I’ll get in shape. I’ll call my mother more often. Heck, maybe I’ll actually take a vacation, you say to yourself. And what are you planning to do this year about finding the love you want?
If a relationship’s on your list of things to do in the next 12 months, then these resolutions should provide some inspiration while you get busy crafting your own:
Resolution #1: Start living in the future
“Stop basing the potential relationship of your future to your relationships of the past,” says Carole Brody Fleet, author of Widows Wear Stilettos. “We have all suffered our fair share of losers, liars, bad matches, and so on. So, resolve to laugh and let them go. Open your mind to the possibilities of your future and don’t automatically condemn someone new based on your past experiences.”
How to get started: Write the names of any painful exes down on strips of paper and burn them on New Year’s Eve. It’s a powerful (and harmless) gesture that can help you start off the new year with a clean slate emotionally.
Resolution #2: End unhealthy relationships, platonic and otherwise
If you’re too emotionally drained from hanging out with toxic friends, or mired in a relationship that’s going nowhere, resolve to get yourself out of them as soon as possible. That’s the plan Charlotte Millot of Gotham, NY chose for herself this year: “I have resolved to end any relationships that are not healthy, supportive, or functional,” she says. She also resolves to stop looking for The One. Wait, what? “The relationships that have been the most meaningful were not the ones that I found,” Charlotte explains. “They just sort of happened. I usually tend to be living my life, enjoying myself... and then one day, I get hit over the head by someone I simply have to be with, who also has to be with me. Our hearts do the dance, and we both take it from there.”
How to get started: Put the focus on doing anything and everything to make yourself happy — and busy — starting on January 1. Take that photography class you’ve been thinking about, play with your pooch at the nearby dog park every Sunday, or join a volunteer group and get to know your neighbors while doing things that benefit your community together. Just set a schedule that includes activities you normally don’t do, and stick to it.
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Resolution #3: Get back in the dating game
This one seems obvious, but it bears repeating. If you’re suffering from a broken heart, the best way to mend it is to get out there and date other people. That’s what MaryAnn Lowry is doing — which is no small feat after the end of her 31-year marriage. “I had my last official date in 1975. I never forgot how to ride a bike, so using hypothetical reasoning, it can be assumed that I didn’t forget how to behave on a date and earn a nice kiss on the lips by the end of the evening,” says MaryAnn.
How to get started: If it’s been decades since you handed anyone your number, asking friends to set you up with someone is one way to ease yourself back into the dating pool while avoiding the bars and clubs. However, if it’s a particularly toxic ex you’re hung up on, sharing your woes with a therapist might help speed the healing process before you start dating someone new. Whichever route you choose to take, be sure to avoid your usual haunts; pick places you’ve never been to before when arranging to meet dates for the first time; not only will it help you keep your private haunts sacred, it will also reduce your chances of running into a former flame. And if you’re suddenly single in midlife, take heart: According to current U.S. Census data, one-third of all adults aged 46-59 were single in 2010; you have more contemporaries out there to date now than you might have had in your 20s and 30s.
Resolution #4: Go out more often, and where other singles tend to gather
You’re not going to meet your dream date sitting at home — cute UPS carriers and pizza-delivery types aside. So, make it a priority to go where the single men and women are and start socializing with them. “I’m resolving to go out with my friends during the week more, so we can maybe meet some people we wouldn’t see out on the weekend,” says Davie Alexander of Chicago, IL.
How to get started: Option 1: Sign up for online dating and get networked with millions of other single people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. Option 2: Go out and sit at a restaurant patio or cafe. The wait staff or barista will help keep you company — and, if you ask, he or she might introduce you to other single patrons, too. One more idea to consider: Join a friendly local sports league or sign up for a singles-only tour or trip through your local travel agency (websites like bestsingletravel.com even group experiences by age range and interest type, if you’re not sure where to look).
Resolution #5: Ditch the negative self-talk and deadline pressure around meeting The One
If this isn’t your first time ringing in the New Year single, you might be getting a little panicky about finding love sooner rather than later. “It’s so easy to feed into these self-destructive patterns, but it affords us an opportunity for self-reflection, introspection, and getting in touch with ourselves in a real way,” says Doree Lewak, author of The Panic Years. “Give yourself a break and ease up on yourself. It’s bad enough when we have to contend with external pressures – to marry, to bring that special someone home to mom and dad for the holidays – but to add internal pressure is downright cruel. The less we think (and obsess) about our marriage timeline, the more we’ll let our relationships breathe naturally. And only then can we enable ourselves and our relationships to progress in a real way.”
How to get started: Schedule time for a workout before heading out to meet potential dates (and if you don’t exercise regularly now, consider making it a permanent addition to your weekly routine). Current research shows that adding just a few extra minutes to your workout or hitting the gym a bit harder than usual can improve your mood, self-esteem, and ability to deal with stressful social events, so finding time for exercise is a must.
Now that you’ve read these resolutions, it’s time to make some of your own. Do it now and get ready for love in the upcoming year!
Margot Carmichael Lester is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work also appears in Go magazine.