I’ve always loved New Year’s, because I love making lists. There’s so much promise in that sheet of resolutions to step up my career, become a vegetarian, or start doing Pilates. But the chipper “New Year, New You” mantra has a dark side: It suggests that something is wrong with the “old” you.
Single people are already deluged with information about how they can be better—more attractive, less needy, etc. New Year’s can present a double-whammy, encouraging you to believe that if you could only shed those ten pounds or become more optimistic, true love would be yours. So along with those vows to go to the gym and read more books, it’s also useful to think about the parts of you that don’t need improvement. In that spirit, I’d like to suggest three New Year’s resolutions that most singles can skip.
1. Be More Positive
Nearly every dating guide on the market tells singles that if they want to be more attractive to others, they need to have a positive attitude. That sounds reasonable, but here’s the problem with the positivity pushers—no one with an IQ over 40 can take a sunny outlook all the time. And forcing yourself to “be positive” can actually have the opposite effect.
What happens when someone tells you not to think about pink elephants? Suddenly, pink elephants are foremost in your mind. The harder you try to banish those images, the more stubborn they become. Research has found that it’s the same for people who vow to only think happy thoughts—the brain works so hard to shut out the negativity that it may actually become more aware of it.
I’m not suggesting you start your next date with “Hey, how about that global warming?” But if someone asks you how you like your job, you don’t have to pretend it’s terrific if in fact it’s a complete headache. Of course, no one wants to hear an hour-long rant about someone else’s impossible boss, but in general most people prefer humble honesty to shiny lies.
2. Be Less Particular
Singles are constantly told that they’d find love in an instant if only they weren’t so darn picky. And while there certainly are single people who maintain unrealistic standards of beauty or wealth for their potential partners, most are just looking for someone cute who is fun to talk to. The fact that concepts like “attractive” and “interesting” are highly subjective leaves the single shamers ample room to write off anyone who declines a third date.
There’s a Buddhist saying I like: “Of the two witnesses, trust the principal one.” Meaning: “trust yourself.” You are the only person who has spent your entire life with you. You were there on your first day of kindergarten and the day you quit your last job. You were there for your first kiss, your first breakup and everything that happened in between.
While others may have firm opinions about whom you should date, you are the only true expert on this subject. Of course, it’s great to let people set you up or date outside your type. Just don’t let anyone talk you out of your own good instincts.
3. Raise Your Self-Esteem
People with high self-esteem consider themselves more likable than those with average or low self-regard. However, thinking highly of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean others will think well of you—in fact, a sky-high self-image could come across as arrogant or narcissistic.
Obviously, a positive sense of self-worth can be extremely beneficial. But if your goal this year is to find a nice relationship, looking into a mirror and reciting affirmations about how great you are probably isn’t the way to go. So instead of attempting to boost your self-confidence, try raising your self-compassion. That is, instead of trying to convince yourself that you’re the greatest, try accepting that you’re an ordinary and flawed person, and you’re still worthy of love.
What are your dating resolutions this year? And which ones are you skipping?
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