1. Love Yourself
Okay, okay, I know people say this all the time, but what does it really mean? In the context of dating, it means knowing that you are worthy of having a loving, respectful and healthy relationship that meets your needs. When you love yourself, you are kind, caring and honest with yourself and you easily extend that energy to others. In essence, you need to be the person that you would like to date, and that is what you will attract. When you love yourself, you do not accept partners that are overly negative and critical, disrespectful or abusive.
2. Heal Hurts
We humans are sensitive creatures, and accumulate lots of emotional scars and scrapes as we journey through life. When we internalize the hurtful things that happen to us, it makes us doubt our worth. Know that you are more than what happens to you. You may not control what happens to you, but you do control your reaction to it. And you can choose to love yourself regardless. When we are in close romantic relationships, they act as mirrors to our whole selves. If there is something unhealed within you it will rear its ugly head, causing you to act out or withdraw when your buttons are (usually inadvertently) pushed. The healthy thing to do is heal before you bring that destructive energy into your relationship. If you feel stuck, don’t be afraid to work with a life coach or get some therapy; it will be well worth it in the long run.
3. Know Yourself
Who are you? What patterns have you acted out in your past relationships? What ideas have you picked up from your parents’ relationship? Are there ways that you say one thing and do another? What type of lifestyle do you want? What are some things that make your heart sing? What motivates you? If you have a hard time answering these questions, again getting some life coaching or therapy could be very helpful.
4. Be Independent and Passionate
A healthy relationship consists of a balance of dependence and independence between the partners. Only by knowing that you are able to depend on yourself can you depend on another person with integrity. And while you are taking care of yourself, follow your passions. When you do things that make you feel happy to be alive, you open yourself up to setting up a flow that lets your authentic self shine through. As you expand your horizons by doing things that you love, you might just meet that special someone while doing so, and already have something life-affirming in common.
5. Make a List of Must Haves
Now that you know who you are, and are living as your authentic loving self, choose what you want! Make a list of attributes that your mate must have. When drafting your list, start by focusing on the spiritual, and by that I mean what a person values, what they believe in, what type of ideas they have about themselves and the relationship that they have with a higher power. Then focus on lifestyle. What do you envision doing with your partner? How do you interact with this special someone? You might want to think about where you want to live (if you are a city girl dating a country boy who wants to live on the farm, you're going to run into problems) or whether you want kids (if you want kids, don’t date potential mates that don’t). If your partner must share a particular activity with you, put that on your list as well. If you want a partner that is affectionate, add that. Be specific. And yes, be picky, but be picky about those things that matter, that have substance, not things that are superficial. You set yourself up for failure if you focus on material things like the person needing to be a particular height, earn a specific amount of money, drive a luxury car, have green eyes, have an exact body type, etc. And of course, sexual attraction is important, but that’s more a spiritual element than a material one.
Once you have your list, put it in writing on a nice piece of paper or card stock. Or make a word processing document out of it; basically, make it nice. This list is a representation of your life partner, after all. Then, pray or meditate over it. Recite it out loud. Do whatever connects you to Source while reflecting on your list. Affirming your list in these ways works on different levels. Thoughts are energy and we are all connected energetically. By sending this energy out into the universe you will attract what you want; you are essentially sending out a homing beacon to your mate. If you say, come on Nadiyah, I don’t believe in that hocus pocus, then it can work for you simply because it primes your mind to recognize what you are looking for. It’s just like that phenomenon that happens when you purchase a new car. Afterwards, when you’re out driving on the road, you see the make, model and color of your car everywhere you go. The same thing will happen when you focus on your list. Once you have created this profile of your love, you are ready to date and recognize them. As you start going out on dates, review your list before you go – not to set you up to interrogate or interview your dates – but just to keep what you’re looking for in mind. You can pay attention to what your dates do and say, keeping a mental checklist internally. Remember to relax and have fun while going through the process.
6. Wait to Have Sex
Sex can mimic love, but sex is not love unless both parties intend it to be. If you have sex too quickly, it can cloud your judgment and trick you into believing that someone who is not for you is. I’m not saying that there is a one-size-fits-all time frame to wait, such as 90 days, as some famously suggest, but you should pick one that gives you enough time to get to know the person in different settings. Give it enough time so that you can figure out what this person values before sleeping with them. Even better, try falling in love and entering into a commitment before having sex; you will know that you have a real connection, a spiritual one, and body can then naturally follow spirit.
7. Do Not Settle
There is a difference between compromising and settling. Since you have already made your list, you are focused on those things that you must have in a mate. Choosing a partner who does not meet all of your must haves is settling. The heart wants what it wants and will continue to want those things, and you will set yourself up for problems later. You can compromise on things that aren’t must haves.
8. Don’t Make Assumptions/Engage in Open and Honest Communication
There are a lot of ways to communicate in a relationship, some that will kill it (guilt tripping, passive aggression, the silent treatment and/or using unkind or hateful words) and others that will nurture it: open and honest communication. Misunderstandings and miscommunication are the main causes of most conflicts in relationships. Don’t assume what a person is thinking and don’t have unrealistic expectations based on what you think they should be thinking. A lot of times we engage in generalizations about groups of people, i.e., all men think this, all women want that, and try to maneuver and act upon these generalizations as we date. However, your potential partner is not a generalization, they are an individual, and the only way you will know what they are thinking is to ask. The only way that someone will know what you are thinking is if you tell them. The only way a person can know what your expectations are is if you communicate them.
9. Don’t Ignore Red Flags
Sometimes we date people and ignore the warning signs that something is just not right. We sense that something is wrong, but dismiss our concerns. If you are having indications that things may not be quite right, you might want to ask yourself: Is there something about this person that makes me feel uncomfortable? Does this person’s words match their actions? If your gut tells you that something is wrong, listen to it. If things don’t add up, pay attention. The goal is to be comfortable around your mate. Things should feel right and make sense.
10. Do Not Try to Change your Potential Mate
People only change when they want to change. You set yourself up for heartache and conflict when you try to change someone. I know a lot of women date for potential and then end up putting unnecessary pressure on the man to be something that she wants, that he might not necessarily want for himself. You can encourage someone to be a better person or go in a certain direction, but only if they want that for themselves. If you are dating someone and cannot accept them as they are today, do both of you a favor and keep it moving.
Your life-long relationship should be a source of joy, a place you go to recharge and renew. It should be a place that brings out the best in you and your partner. Ultimately, you have to believe that you can get what you want. For this process to work, you must believe that someone is out there who meets every requirement that you have. So when you meet this person, you are already miles ahead in creating a lasting relationship and valuing what you have, because you have who and what you want. When you pick well on the front end, it helps you on the back end. You won’t have to work as hard to come to a meeting of the minds, because you are already very compatible. When you do have differences, the work of the relationship becomes maintaining your bond by using open and honest communication to reach a compromise. When you pick well, you can work together and strengthen each other against the inevitable valleys of life, rather than working against one another to get past unhealed hurts, insecurities or basic incompatibility. When you use your heart and mind to choose a partner on a spiritual basis – shared values, a shared vision about your bond, shared ideas about the Creator and how your relationship fits into what the Creator would have for you – miraculous things can happen in your life. You will become a better person. You can have a beautiful, powerful relationship that exceeds your wildest dreams.