With the New Year coming rapidly, you may start thinking about where you are in your life — and that includes your love life. It's also a time that can be really difficult, because for a lot of us our years didn't shape up how we'd hoped they'd be. We often convince ourselves that our entire lives will turn around in one year, which just isn't realistic. But if you're feeling low, rather than just spiraling it's all the more important that you start the New Year off on the right foot. Sure, maybe your whole life won't change in a year. But starting off in a positive way definitely helps set you up for what's ahead— and can help shake you out of any bad patterns you might be settling into.
First things first? Chill about your love life. "We can be better daters when we take the pressure off," clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte tells Bustle. "Go on dates as though you are meeting new, interesting people. Forget the goal of finding 'The One.' Look at dating as a way to connect to like-minded people." And remember that being single itself can be pretty great. Once you've relaxed about your current dating life, it's time to get ready to start the New Year off just how you want it.
Here's what you need to do, because it's time to actually start messaging people:
1. Touch Base About How You're Feeling
One of the best parts about having some time to reflect is to figure out what you actually want. “I think being single is an exercise that every person should go through at some point in their adult life. It is a time that gives us the distance and clarity that we need to get to know who we truly are as a person, and to firmly define what it is that we want in a future partner,” psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. So make sure to take a look back, look at what you enjoyed or didn't, and what you want from your dating life going forward.
2. Streamline Your Methods
So many people have 87 different dating apps that they swipe on and then only two that they actually talk to people on. Time to break it down. Whether you like meeting people online, through hobbies, or friends, start focusing your dating efforts on what actually works for you. Or else it's just a lot of wasted energy.
3. Cut The Dead Weight
If you have exes or f*ck boys who are still hanging around messing with your head, the New Year is a perfect time to cut that dead weight. "If you find that talking to your ex leaves you feeling conflicted, anxious and depressed after you’ve parted, it’s because you shouldn’t be talking to your ex," April Masini, New York based relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. Let them go.
4. Update Your Dating Profiles
When's the last time you did it? If you like online dating, first make sure your photos are working for you. “I've learned a lot over the past few years about what makes a great dating profile photo,” Saskia Nelson is a professional photographer and the founder of the dating photography business Hey Saturday, tells Buslte. “A good place to start is to look at your current photos and ask yourself if your dating photos look good. Help tell your story? Make you stand out from the crowd?”
After that it's time for words. I know, words. "Take the time to fill out a bio,” Jennifer Stith, the VP of Communications and Brand Development over at Bumble tells Bustle. “A little humor always goes far.” So many people don't have bios, but you'll get more attention if you do.
5. Start Messaging First
"I deal with men all the time who are frustrated that when they make efforts they go unreturned, and I deal with women who don’t understand why men they want don’t make effort to get to know them," Gina Stewart, online dating coach and owner of Expert Online Dating tells Bustle. "I think it has to do with a struggle with traditional gender roles and the perception of effort. Women feel like before online dating, men used to have to make a lot more effort to meet and date a woman... Considering dating and pursual is now taking place on phones, women feel like men don’t have to make much effort or risk whatsoever. The first move is the equivalent of a few finger strokes. And I think women like to think they are worth that much, at a minimum."
And you are worth it. But if you sit around waiting to get messaged you'll lose any sense of agency and you'll be missing out on getting to talk to people you pick. Just send a message. What's the worst that can happen? There are plenty of more options at your finger tips.
6. Be Mindful
If your dating life consists of an endless swipe session but no real action, it's time to start being more thoughtful. “It can be so easy to just look at pictures on your dating app and swipe right,” Antonia Hall, psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life , tells Bustle. “You’re in a flow, and they’re so attractive. What could possibly go wrong? But you’ll actually save yourself time, frustration, and potentially disastrous messaging/dating later if you’ve taken the time to read their profile from the get-go. Otherwise, you risk missing critical information like, ‘In an open relationship. Wanna join us for some fun?’ or ‘Just out of prison. Let’s do this!’ There are a lot of very attractive, but undateable, people out there.”
7. Celebrate Being Single
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, even if you want to be in a relationship, remember how amazing being single is. “You are able to learn who you are as an individual, and not as a couple," Martinez tells Bustle. "This is an important differentiation. Who we are alone, as a unique human being on our own, is often very different than what we become, or what we allow ourselves to be in a relationship. This is your time to get a firm sense of self, and to promise yourself to never forget it, or let go of it, no matter who you are or are not with." It can be a great period, so don't take it for granted.
When it comes to New Year's affirmation and resolutions, why don't you focus on what's going to make you happiest. And if dating is your priority, it's so important to get it off on the right foot.
Want to have an awesome 2017? Then check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for tips on how to have the most empowering year yet.
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