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7 key steps to dating success

7 key steps to dating success

By Caitlin Ascolese

The power of positive thinking: Maybe you’re curious about it because of books like The Secret, or maybe you’re just sick of complaining about the aftermath of your last breakup and the bad dates you’ve had ever since. Whatever the case, it’s time to look on the bright side. All types of experts agree that cultivating an upbeat mindset will improve your love life by bringing you better romantic prospects. “When you focus your thoughts like a laser beam on what you want in life, you unleash the power of your mind combined with the creative power of the universe,” says pyschologist Kirsten Harrell.

It may sound like metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, but when it comes to love, it works: When you only focus on and tolerate good behaviors, you only spend your dating energy on worthy, wonderful singles. Here are seven simple but effective steps to help you zoom in on your best possible matches — and then start dating them.

Step 1: Envision your ideal mate
You’ve got to know what it is you want before you “put it out there to the universe,” so spend some time honestly evaluating your marriage, past relationships and any crushes you may have had along the way. This will help you figure out the must-have qualities in a good partner for you. “Writing those traits down helps keep you focused,” says Harrell. “State clearly what you do want (“He/She is loyal”), not what you don’t (“My partner won’t cheat”). Listing what you don’t want means your mind is still focusing on — and therefore attracting — unhealthy relationships.” Once you’re thinking about the type of person with whom you want to connect, you’ll naturally be more open to meeting him or her — and subconsciously put yourself in situations where you’re more likely to do so.
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Step 2: Tackle your insecurity demons
If you try to meet someone great while you’re still grappling with self-doubt, any minor setback could be interpreted as further “proof” that you’re not cut out for dating. But by taking responsibility for whatever emotional work you still need to do after the end of a relationship, you’re able to experience each new person on his or her own merits. This is much better than unrealistically expecting a new partner to “fix” what’s missing in your life. “A death, breakup or divorce rocks your sense of stability, self-confidence and trust,” says Anthony Riche, Ph.D., author of Finally! How to Stop Dating Losers Forever. “You have to give yourself time to heal old wounds. Turn to a good friend or therapist to support you as you confront these issues.”

Being unencumbered also makes you more alluring to other singles, since wanting your partner is far sexier than needing someone just to function socially. “The more you accept yourself and your position in life, the easier it is for someone else to accept it,” adds Riche.

Step 3: Focus on the good things only after each date
Not every attempt at romance is going to click, but you can put even the “Wow, that was bad” dates to work for you. “At least 90 percent of the time, you can say at least one positive thing about a date… find something that you liked about it,” says Lori Gorshow, dating coach for Denver’s Dating Made Simple. “Maybe she had amazing eyes or you like how he really listened. Use that information to better know what you’re looking for.”

One way this helps is by retraining you to identify the positive aspects of a situation so that when you do encounter a “good one,” you naturally notice the workable qualities instead of nitpicking at every potential imperfection. And then, voila — you’ve got the momentum to pursue (instead of avoid) healthy relationships.

Step 4: Convince yourself that you’re worthy of love
Of course, finding the right person won’t do much good if you don’t believe you’re worthy of having this person as your mate. You can break those old self-doubt habits by creating a mantra worth repeating to yourself regularly. Your affirmation can be anything you say in the first-person in present tense that’s simple, concise, and positive (think: “I have a healthy, loving relationship,” or “I’m a beautiful person worth loving.”) Even if it seems a little bit forced at first, over time, you’ll begin to absorb and internalize the message — and it’ll become true. “The repetition of positive thoughts creates new neural circuits in the brain, making it easier to maintain a positive attitude and take positive actions,” explains Harrell. Not convinced? Why not set aside your skepticism, try it, and see for yourself if it works?

Step 5: Be picky about the people you choose to date
Your list of “must-haves” may seem like it’s decimating your field of potential mates, but really, it’s only weeding out the misfires. “When people are hurt, they sometimes think they have to take advantage of any opportunity available,” says Gorshow. “But at a certain point, you’re just wasting your time.” Your checklist empowers you to screen for red flags and move on when you see them, instead of spending more time on each person “just in case” there’s potential. “So many people adjust their personalities to fit what they think their date wants, but that’s a surefire method for rejection — having a list keeps you focused on what you want,” says Gorshow.

Step 6: Let your positive self-image shine on dates
A good attitude isn’t just the key to finding dates — demonstrating the right outlook can also make sure you keep quality mates interested in taking things to the next level. “People are generally more attracted to someone with a positive attitude than a negative person,” says Harrell. So when you’re out with a potential partner, be sure to talk about things that you truly love and that make you light up (i.e., your favorite hobbies, a trip you took with your friends last summer) rather than dwelling on unpleasant subjects (like why you’re still single, or how rude your waiter is tonight). “Have some positive topics in mind before your date so that if you get nervous or are tempted to complain, you can use them in a pinch,” suggests Harrell.

Step 7: Have an outlet for dealing with stress
You’ll stay more positive about dating when you are able to keep your life’s everyday stressors in perspective. “Have a routine that helps you deal with stress, whether it’s exercise, yoga, spa treatments, or mantras,” advises Riche. “Find something that feeds your soul and quiets your mind and do it regularly, not just when there’s something stressful going on.” Without this ritual in place, you can easily lose sight of what you really want; then, you end up wasting time on people and unnecessary drama that might keep you away from achieving your goals. Sanity-savers keep your head clear — which is exactly what you’ll need to start a healthy, loving relationship with the great partner you’re destined to meet.

Caitlin Ascolese is a freelance writer in New York City.

Article courtesy of Match.com.