Jane Miller, an Ottawa-based life coach, has a simple six-step plan that will start you on the right track to falling in love this year. "It is not only about getting love, it is also about giving love," says Miller. "The less judgment and the more compassion in a relationship, the more joy there will be."
So if you want to get in the driver's seat of your love life, try to abide by these rules.
1. No comparison shopping
When you meet a potential new mate, do not constantly compare and contrast with past relationships. "When you compare a person to a past partner -- or to some idealized image -- you are likely to miss many of the person's best qualities. And if you attempt to transform the person into someone he or she is not, all that you will create is friction; and your relationship will inevitably fail because people are who they are," says Miller.
She also advises focusing on the positive instead of the negative. "Rather than noticing what is lacking, celebrate what is present," she says. "Appreciation, acceptance and love are the things that create a happy relationship."
2. Recognize that romantic love is nice to have, but not a necessity
Finding love is the ultimate cure for loneliness, but love comes in many forms. Realizing that you can be a complete person when surrounded by the love of friends and family is important.
"There are relationships in which each member of the couple leans on one other, and this type of relationship can work," says Miller. "But, like two playing cards balancing against each other, this type of structure is precarious, because if one person shifts even slightly, the other will become fearful and the structure can topple. Instead, get to a solid place within yourself and consider romantic love as something nice to have rather than a necessity."
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3. Avoid meaningless sex
If you are seeking genuine love and not just a late-night lover, don't force intimacy by introducing sex too early or treating it too casually. Instead of making you feel closer to someone, it can actually make things more complicated and cloud the judgments you need to discern whether your feelings for the person are real.
"Real love can happen on many different levels and in many different stages of one's life," says Miller. "There is no single formula for everyone. Sexual chemistry may or may not be high on the priority list -- it depends on what you want from a relationship." But one thing is for sure: If your only interaction happens with a person in the wee hours, chances are your relationship will not last forever.
4. Give yourself a clean slate
It's unlikely that you have been a complete angel in all of your past relationships. By accepting your faults you acknowledge responsibility for any previous transgressions and it empowers you to move on. "If you've had a failed relationship (or a few) in the past, you may be reluctant to try again because you're afraid of being hurt. This fear is based on the assumption that you had no control over what happened. It puts you in a position of helplessness," says Miller.
"However, if you humbly admit that you were at least partly to blame for past outcomes, it becomes possible for you to create a different outcome in the future. You may, for example, decide that you will be more open about your feelings and discuss things that are troubling you before they reach a critical point. You may realize that you can become less demanding or simply allow yourself to become more fun-loving," she says.
"It's important to realize that you cannot control what others do, but you can choose how you respond," says Miller. "By taking responsibility for the things that you have control over, you can learn over time, by trial and error, the best way to nurture a caring, respectful and loving relationship."
Page 2 of 3 -- Learn how to set realistic expectations in your search for the right partner on page 3
5. Broaden your scope
Miller reminds us that there's no "perfect" person out there. "Imagine you're going out to buy a fridge," she says. "You go from store to store; you look at features; you bemoan the fact that there is not one fridge that has all the features you want. In the end, you compromise and buy one that satisfies the most important features. Well, you needed a fridge, so you had to compromise. Some people are perfectly comfortable with the thought of being alone. But if you really do want to find a partner, it may be wise to think about what compromises you would accept, and (most importantly) how you would feel about those compromises. If you can truly accept a person exactly as he or she is, you are expanding your capacity for love."
6. Get committed
Become exclusive as quickly as you can, within reason. Broach the subject as soon as five or six dates into the relationship. Although this may seem hasty, keep in mind your goal of falling in love: Commitment brings an additional level of ease with one another, and the more at ease you are, the more your partner sees those essential qualities such as loyalty and honesty. "When you become exclusive it gives you the chance to know what it will be like to commit to one person," says Miller. "You will also have an opportunity to work together at resolving any issues -- and there may be many issues before love happens. It's perfectly normal to experience some turbulence as you launch into an exclusive relationship. If you treat exclusivity as a training ground for developing your communication skills, you will have the greatest chance of it becoming a happy and lasting relationship."
This year, eliminate those old doubts and anxieties around falling in love by applying these basic, clear-cut tips, and you'll find a partner worthy of accompanying you into your bright future.
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