New Year’s resolutions on dating are no different from any other kind. I quit making them because I usually broke them and ended up feeling like a failure. And I’ve come to realize that the way we tend to approach them is usually the result of thinking/feeling something negative about ourselves. So resolutions become a cloaked form of judging and scolding ourselves for what we did badly the year before, though we did our best at the time. And that makes them a setup for failure.
We all wish we had done some things differently, and I’m not the only one who judges themselves for it. But it isn’t good for us and it’s unlikely to create real or lasting change. Since I’m all for change and have finally learned some things that work for me, try this if you want, and see how it works for you:
1. Find some quiet space and time, away from all the jangle, and just sit with yourself for a while. Silence really is golden, and you can “hear” things when there’s no clatter.
2. Remember and accept that you are a continually growing being who’s got some life lessons to learn. And yes, many of life’s lessons hurt.
3. Accept that you have good reasons to be the way you are, and that the behavior you now want to change has served you in some way in the past, even though you didn’t like the consequences. The issues we bring to dating and relationships, like everything else, are more likely to continue if we don’t acknowledge the reasons for them, so let yourself think honestly about how they have actually worked for you.
4. Love yourself—not in the phony, superficial way that advertisements tell us to. Just accept yourself as fully and deeply as you can, as a human and therefore imperfect being who tries your best. (And if you’re no good at accepting yourself yet, no worries!)
5. Think about all the things you did well in 2012, and give yourself credit.
6. Then think about what you learned in 2012, and what is most important to you now.
7. If you still want to make a resolution, base it on this self-exploration and acceptance, and limit yourself to one—two at the most. (I personally prefer to consider it an intention.)
8. Keep it simple, frame it positively (i.e., what you want to do, rather than what you don’t want to do), pick what will make you feel genuinely good about yourself, and don’t expect to do it perfectly.
This year, my intention is to remember to listen to my intuition and act on what it tells me, without undue delay, and whether I like it or not. Tuning into myself honestly and behaving accordingly, is always better in the end. I’ve been working on it for a while now, and it helps in every aspect of my life, including dating. But I still forget to listen sometimes, or find it difficult to believe myself and act on what I know.
For example, I got into a relationship this year that had a lot of seriously good “glue.” But as soon as I realized that it was not the kind of relationship or the man I wanted, I let go. I didn’t keep hoping and trying, despite my loneliness and my hunger for it to work out. And I know that I saved us both a lot of time and grief.
We know more than we often let ourselves in on, especially when we don’t like what we know. So listen and be kind to yourself, make doable resolutions or intentions, and make them from an internal space that’s not judgmental.
Finally, always remember that you can make a new start anytime—not just at the beginning of a new year. You’re always growing. So, Happy New Year! You might even have a happier one if you don’t make a resolution.