15 Things You Should Be Doing Now To Make Your Next Relationship Stronger

The time between relationships is precious, and few people really take advantage of it. A lot of people just swing from one consuming love to another and never take the time to understand what keeps them in the cycle of crashing, burning and ending up right back where they started. The reason most people don't like to use this downtime to reflect or heal or grow is because accepting that you're alone feels like a mental death sentence. But you're only alone for now. Nobody who has ever found love knew that it was coming, and you don't know when you'll stumble upon Mr. or Miss. oh-my-god-there-you-are-FINALLY-this-is-so-right.

It will just happen one day. That day could be years from now, or a few months — but that day could even be tomorrow, so you might as well start getting ready for it today. Make use of whatever time you have to invest in yourself and your ability to strengthen your relationships. Here, the 15 most overlooked things you should be doing now to make your next relationship all that it can possibly be:

Taking some serious stock in exactly what happened in your last relationships, and what role you played in their eventual demise

For instance, if you have an unresolved abandonment issue that keeps leading you to ending relationships before they're ended on you, you have to confront that. If you keep running into the same insecurity, no matter the partner, you have to confront that if you want any hope of making it work with anyone. You can only write things off as "not meant to be" for so long, before you have to start taking responsibility for how "not meant to be you made them."

Deciding where you'd want to be, if you were to be on your own, for the next five, 10, 15 years

You need to figure out what path you want to be on, before you end up on someone else's by default; before you wind up so swept away that you choose a life you never really wanted in the first place.

Deciding where (and on what) you're willing to compromise

Love is unconditionally accepting, yes, but not to the point where it dismisses things that are truly unacceptable. That line, however, is different for anyone. You need to find yours and stand firmly on it. Doing so is the only way you ensure you won't end up someone else's doormat.

Filling the emotional gaps you always assumed someone else would save you from

So long as you exist in a perpetual state of "need," you'll never really know what it is to love someone else. You have to address what you think love will save you from, without thinking that giving that to yourself is a recipe to never have companionship (it's exactly the opposite).

Addressing the little chips that you've let accumulate over the years

Feel what you had to ignore and pack away to survive. It doesn't matter if it was five months or five years ago, emotional wounds linger until we address them, let them breathe, and shed light on their truth. Allow yourself that before you end up unintentionally releasing them on a relationship you care about.

Releasing ideas of what you think your life should be like — and, in turn, what you think your partner should be like too

Things never look the way we think they're going to, and that's doubly important in our relationships. In the end, as long as we're hung up on the fact that things didn't pan out the one specific way we assumed they would, we're missing out on all the ways they're just as good (if not better) than we could have imagined.

Taking a 101 level course in what it means to be who you are

Even in the simplest, everyday ways: take note of who you are, what you like, what you don't, what you want, what you've been though, and what you need from someone else. This knowing is how you'll construct your everyday relationship with someone else. But it has to begin with you.

Taking a 102 level course in what it means for that person to love someone

If you haven't heard of it before, learn what your "love language" is (the way you express love, and the way you most feel loved). Learn what makes you swoon, and how you want to share your life with someone. Be specific. Know what love means to you, so someone else's desires don't end up defining it.

Doing a few things you always wanted to do with a partner ... on your own

Teach yourself that you don't need someone else to not just be OK, but to thrive. Doing so will release you from the incessant fear of losing them, which completely prohibits you from ever enjoying them in the first place.

Building your friendships, rekindling bonds with family members, solidifying your home base

Alongside knowing who you are, know who your tribe is. Don't put all your emotional eggs in just one sexual basket (I love this analogy, don't take it away from me). Have weekend plans and a life that's yours, with people who you love. Don't wait for someone else to give that to you.

Not just creating the life you want, but getting steady in it, so someone else's big, consuming love doesn't blow it all up

It's one thing to dream big and reach far and try your best to create a life you want — and it's an entirely different beast to actually live it, to get so comfortable and certain in your wildest, scariest dreams that nothing (even something more comfortable) will stop you from going after them.

Getting your financial situation under control (and keeping parts of that situation solely yours until further notice)

Your net worth might not be your personal worth, but it is freedom. Having an expendable income gives you options —keeping some money stored away to remain yours and solely yours is the smartest thing you can do. Because one day, you might need to leave an apartment, or grab an emergency flight — you just never know. Don't find yourself married to a situation (or a person) simply because you financially and otherwise don't have another choice.

Learning to disregard your type, but take more seriously your compatibility

Only dating people who immediately appear to be your "type" is an almost-guarantee that you won't find genuine love, only people who, on the surface, fit with what you think you want.

Learning the difference between what really makes you happy, and what you think makes you happy

Similar to the type/compatibility dichotomy, evaluate what in your life you think makes you happy, and what actually makes you feel good. It will tell you a lot about who you are, show you where you need to make some adjustments, and will get you attuned to your genuine feelings (making them that much easier to decipher when it comes to someone else).

Having your own adventures, and gathering your own stories to tell

Be the kind of person who sits down on a first date and has a dozen things to talk about, all because they've done so much they're proud of. Become interesting and lovable simply because you've had the courage to be who you are and do what you want. The best way to ensure a great relationship is to strengthen the parts of it first.

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