Few holiday traditions are as taken for granted — and as completely absurd — as the New Year’s resolution. Think about it: if you were going to make a life-changing decision about your romantic future — say, meeting The One or ironing out some tough relationship terrain — wouldn’t it make more sense to do so, say, in the budding warmth of spring? Who wants to consider big changes on a cold night smack in the middle of winter, with dark, dreary months looming inexorably ahead?

But that’s our calendar, and we have to live with it. What we don’t have to live with, though, are those grand, overly ambitious New Year’s resolutions that disintegrate within a couple of weeks of Valentine’s Day — declarations like “I will work out every single day and go from a size 18 to a size 6” or “I will tell my girlfriend exactly how I’m feeling, no matter what the consequences.” Rather than going the theatrical route, why not try one of these simpler, more realistic resolutions instead? Not only are they easier to keep, they’ll give you the kind of amazing love life you’re craving.
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Resolution #1: I will not use a date as an excuse to overindulge in fattening or unhealthy food and drink. If you lead an active social life, you may be dining out two or three times a week — and when your (either prospective or long-term) boyfriend is footing the bill, the temptation to pile it on can be hard to resist. “Women have a tendency to say, ‘I’ll splurge and order a huge dessert after a fabulous meal,’” says Dr. Susan Bartell, author of Dr. Susan’s Girls-Only Weight-Loss Guide, “because they don’t want to seem high maintenance. At least try to eat out at a healthier restaurant every now and then.”

Resolution #2: I will rewrite my profile and post newer, more flattering photos. “Many singles today use online dating sites as their primary way to meet other singles,” says relationship therapist Toni Coleman, “and often they find they’re not satisfied with the quality or quantity of the responses they get. It all begins with the profile!” When you’ve been on a service for more than a few months, it’s easy to slip into “coast” mode and stop updating your personal information. Not only will posting that new pic increase your response rate, it’ll make you feel more involved in your own online dating life.

Resolution #3: I will consider the opinions of friends and family, if they ALL feel the person I’m dating is not a good match for me. “I see this all the time,” Dr. Bartell says. “Because they’re so desperate to find the right person, people ignore all the red flags. They’ll pick out one or two traits they like and ignore the ones that aren’t so good — because they think the person will change once they get into a relationship.” If you’re too close to the situation to judge things objectively, consider this: What are the odds that your mom, best friend, and coworkers would all be dead wrong at the same time?

Resolution #4: I will become aware of the non-verbal signals I send out in social situations. “Say you go out to happy hours or clubs with friends, and wind up disappointed because you never meet anyone or attract the wrong kind of guys,” Coleman says. “Are you standing in the shadows, arms tightly crossed, with an annoyed expression on your face? Or do you maintain an open and inviting posture that says, ‘I’d like to talk?’” If you’re unsure, ask your friends to observe you for the night and comment on your behavior — and then do your best to set things right. It may be a little uncomfortable, but if that’s what it takes to move your love life to the next level, why not make this the year to go for it?

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on About.com, the online information network owned by the New York Times.