Wearing attractive clothes, sporting a nice hairstyle, and looking fit and trim as you step out for a date are all important self-care steps when you’re looking for a new relationship. That’s the outer you. You want to look great when meeting the prospective Mr. or Mrs. Right. That’s important. Even more important is taking the mental self-care steps so you can make the right decisions when selecting a new partner.
Are you emotionally fit for welcoming someone special into your life? Emotional self-care goes deep below the skin. You can’t just apply it like lipstick, wipe it off, and try another color. There’s more work to be done.
Identify Your Personal Needs
How well do you know yourself? Can you easily identify your personal passions? How do you most enjoy spending your time? What activities make you feel happy, fulfilled, at peace? What does the opposite? Are you intimately familiar with the emotional, behavioral and spiritual elements that make up who you are?
Maybe a refresher is in order. When was the last time you contemplated your life purpose and what is meaningful to you? What do you most enjoy doing with your time? When do you feel the most full of life and well-being? What are your passions outside of the love arena? If you want to find out, try spending some time alone with yourself, attending workshops, retreats, self-help seminars, see a counselor. My point: Find YOU before you find your partner.
Are You Really Ready?
For a new relationship, that is. If you’ve just experienced a breakup, part of your self-care that wouldn’t serve you best is to jump back into the dating world without taking a breath, taking some time alone to reflect, clearing out the lingering “residue” from your previous relationship, re-energizing. You need downtime. Time to be with yourself without the distraction of someone else. Someone else takes work.
And speaking of work, are you so busy with work, exhausted when you get home? Do you have to recover over the weekend to be able to make it through another workweek? Is getting so immersed in your work leaving you little time for anything or anyone else? Are you happy with how much you devote to your career or do you feel you’re cheating yourself out having a personal relationship? How available are you for a partner at this point in your life? Maybe you need to reorganize your priorities.
Mental Health Roadblocks
Are you stressed or depressed? Do you have other mental or physical health problems you are struggling with? Are you having family problems? What other strains … mental, physical, financial are consuming your mental and physical energies? Heal old wounds. These can deeply impact your romantic relationships. Consider cleaning up your act before you make your act a duo. Self-help exploration and counseling can help you identify your feelings and clear the path of emotional obstacles.
How’s your self-confidence? Maybe it took a hit after your last relationship. Maybe self-esteem has been an ongoing problem. What is your mind whispering in your ear? There are ways to alter your negative self-talk … about yourself that may be sabotaging your self-worth, your ability to find and attract the mate who’s right for you.
Ask yourself what’s really causing those negative feelings about yourself. Maybe there are external fixes? Maybe you would feel better if you lost some weight? Maybe your last partner etched away some of that self-confidence? Maybe you lack confidence in being single, navigating the world solo? Can you act independently without someone else propping you up?
How focused are you on goals, achievements, and meeting the expectations of others? Are you meeting their expectations at the expense of meeting your own? Be aware of what you do, why you do it, how it feels, and what the outcomes are.
Set goals. How are you going to find Mr. or Ms. Right if you don’t make a conscious effort to plan for them? Maybe you need to contemplate on clarifying what you want in a mate? Try to create your ideal mate on paper. If you know those qualities, you’ll invariably seek out situations and people who have them. These need to be broad ideals, because let’s face it, you’ll never find the mate who’s an exact match with those ideal ones.
Then create the “mate from hell” list. Know what you don’t want in a relationship. Know behaviors, attitudes, quirks, interests, attitudes in which you can’t abide. Identify what you “will do” and what you “won’t do.” In the process, you’ll probably discover some characteristics that are in-between, those things you might be able to live with. You might also discover that you used to want to do some things and now you don’t.
What’s important here is to let go of specific expectations and set broader goals for your prospective mate. For example, if you’re set on a doctor, lawyer or business owner, 40s to 50s who makes six figures, lives in a specific part of town, and has to match all of your interests, you’re being unrealistic and limiting yourself.
Let’s be practical but chemistry needs to be an important part of the mix. You can let some things slide, but if there’s no spark you’ll have deluded yourself into thinking that someone is so right for you because they match up with your list. Be open to possibilities.
Be flexible, open-minded, and give it time. Don’t immediately write someone off because they are not what you perceive to be the person for you. Give it a little bit of time to make sure. Time may uncover personality traits and interests that had not yet surfaced.
Listen to the voice in your head. Ask yourself if this person fills you with energy, strength, positivity, and warmth? Or are they draining, disturbing your sense of well-being with negativity, selfishness, arrogance, insecurity? Identify any deal-breakers. Check in with your emotions. Name what you’re feeling without judgment. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it. It will rear its ugly head later, maybe much later on in the relationship in which you had vested your heart and emotions.
When you’re on a date with a prospective beau or just hanging out, make sure both of your needs are being met. If he wants to take you to a horror flick and you despise them, tell him; Or, agree to the film if he then agrees on the next date (if there is one) that you’ll be choosing the movie or other forms of entertainment. Does she respect your divergent desires, tastes, attitudes, or does she expect you to conform to theirs? What does your heart say?
Pulling the Trigger
Also know that it’s not fair to you or them to drag out a relationship for months if it doesn’t feel right, feels like effort, doesn’t give you joy, has toxic elements. You want to be fair to yourself and them, but you’re not being fair if you don’t tell them it’s not going to work because you’re afraid to upset what you’ve set in motion. Pull the trigger when you feel sure in your mind that it won’t, but don’t wait until your relationship becomes entrenched because it will surely be more difficult for both of you.
Be True to You
We all desire to connect to others in a relationship but we are also unique individuals with an inborn desire to be ourselves. It’s easy to get swept up in the thrill of romance and a new relationship and forget how important it is to look inward, have our radar set to feed us warning signals, and forget to be true to ourselves.