When you're single and looking for love, the prospect of
finding a healthy relationship can seem daunting. Whether you want to date the old-fashioned way or you prefer the process of modern dating — making a dating profile that stands out, combing through your matches, and of course, actually going out on dates — it can take a lot of time and effort to find a fulfilling relationship. While that might not be exactly what you want to hear, the good news is that dating, although challenging, can also be super fun and rewarding, particularly if you practice healthy dating habits.
But what does it even mean to have "healthy" habits when it comes to dating? Essentially, it boils down to being mindful — both of who you are as a person, and of what you want in another person. "You can’t hit what you aren’t aiming at, so step one would be to clarify your own goals, wants, needs, strengths, and weaknesses," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at
Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "The habit which facilitates this is being in a constant open dialogue with oneself. You may notice things you are doing wrong, and take steps to remedy the situation."
If you're serious about finding a
long-term partner that's perfect for you, here are nine habits that people who find the relationships they want have in common, according to experts.
They Don't Look For Someone To "Complete" Them
Although Jerry McGuire might have made audiences swoon with his emotional
"you complete me" speech, in reality, you shouldn't be looking for someone to make you feel whole — you should feel like a complete person on your own before adding someone else to the mix.
"Once you are more aware of what it is you want in your life, you can search for someone to share that life with," Backe says. "Someone who will be able to complement your being, and help you move forward. I am not talking about finding a soulmate, nor am I talking about perfect halves, or 'you complete me' ideas. Those have their place, sure, but you ought to be an individual before you become a couple."
They Trust Their Intuition
One of the most important, but often overlooked, good dating habits? Being willing to
trust your gut when it's telling you someone is (or is not) a good match for you.
"Most of us have that internal voice that tells us something isn't right, but we don't listen to it," Kayla Lords, sexpert for
JackAndJillAdult.com and owner of Loving BDSM, a website and podcast that focuses on Dominance and submission (D/s) relationships, tells Bustle. "We stick around, thinking we can fix them or that we'll finally be the one partner they change for. That internal voice is almost never wrong, and even if you're conscious mind can't pinpoint the problem, you know it's not right. Wait for the person who doesn't give you that bad feeling."
They Pay Attention To How They're Treated
At the very beginning of a relationship, both people are typically on their best behavior — which means that if someone isn't treating you the way you want to be treated upfront, you should be confident enough to call things off.
"If a partner doesn't treat you with respect in the beginning, there's no way they'll do it later when you've been together long-term," Lords says. "Looks, money, and status mean very little compared to kindness, the willingness to listen, and respect."
They Don't Rush Relationships
If you really hit it off with someone, feelings can develop fast — but instead of rushing into a commitment right away, you're better off taking the time to
really get to know a person before you hitch their figurative wagon to yours.
"Every so often we learn about a couple that fell in love at first sight, got married six weeks later, and lived happily ever after," Lords says. "They're the exception, not the rule. For the rest of us, when we fall too hard too soon for the wrong one, it's a dumpster fire from start to finish. Spend time getting to know each other. Watch for the small signals that you can or can't trust each other. Pay attention less to what they say and more to what they do. Each of you should have to work for this relationship, and that can take time."
They're Not Afraid To Look "Thirsty"
If I had a dollar for every time I've been called "thirsty" just because I was open about
wanting a serious relationship, I'd have a lot of dollars. Honestly, though, the notion that "thirstiness" for a relationship is a bad thing is not only outdated, but harmful.
"I hate the term 'thirsty' because it's just the kind of shaming attitude that keeps a lot of people single,"
Francesca Hogi, Love and Life Coach, tells Bustle. "If you want love and intimacy, guess what — that makes you human. If wanting to be with someone makes you thirsty, then every person in a relationship is thirsty. People who get the relationship they want know this — playing it cool, being aloof and pretending that there's something wrong with unapologetically saying 'I want a relationship' is for people who are willing to stay single indefinitely."
Before you can find a healthy relationship with someone else, you first need to have a
healthy relationship with yourself — something you can achieve over time through practicing self love.
"We teach others how to treat us," Amanda Rose, Founder and CEO of
Dating Boutique, tells Bustle. "So when we practice self love including healthy lifestyles, positive self talk, self respect, etc., then we set the stage for others to treat us the same. When we're missing self love we'll open up the door for unhealthy relationships."
They're Content Being Single, Too
Even if being single isn't your preference, you should still at least feel happy and
comfortable when you're not attached — because your relationship status shouldn't be your only source of happiness.
"It's important to find contentment in being single," Rose says. "When we're OK with being without a partner and we find happiness in other places we're less needy in a relationship. Singles who are comfortable being alone don't suffocate and put as much pressure on a relationship. Relationships need freedom to survive."
They Stick To Their Dealbreakers
We all have
relationship dealbreakers, and healthy daters know that sticking to those — even when you like plenty of other things about a person — is the only way to find someone who will truly make a good match in the long run.
"Knowing what you do and don’t want in a partner is important and you shouldn’t feel bad for having preferences," Heather Ebert, dating expert for dating site
WhatsYourPrice.com, tells Bustle. "You should be open-minded while dating, but there are some things you shouldn't compromise on just for the sake of finding a [partner]. Knowing what these are and sticking to them will help you in the long run by weeding out those that you are unlikely to take far into the future."
The most important healthy dating habit to adopt ASAP? Being able to
find joy in the process of dating, even when the going gets tough and you feel like you'll never find the right person (spoiler alert: you will).
"Dating can become exhausting, and it will probably get boring too," Ebert says. "You may feel like you’re getting nowhere and might lose hope but no matter how bad it gets, don’t let dating sour your chances of finding the one. You should embrace the sometimes confusing and obscure path to romance, laugh about the mishaps, take interest in the people you meet and try new things. If you have a positive outlook toward the process, good things are sure to come."
Ultimately, dating isn't something that's going to always be easy-breezy: it takes a lot of effort, but if you're
happy with who you are and know exactly what you want, it's only a matter of time until someone comes along who was totally worth the wait.