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Five Steps to Finding Love in the New Year

A new year is approaching and we have an opportunity to reflect on 2013 and set intentions for the life we hope to create in the present and future. The symbolism of closing this year offers us the chance to greet 2014 with optimism, hope, gratitude and the opening for love and beyond.

It might feel distressing or worrisome to look back on this year when it comes to dating, love and relationships. You might have been heartbroken, you might have ended a relationship or stayed in an unhealthy one for way too long. You might have had fewer dates than you had hoped for or took the year off from dating altogether. You might be processing the loss of a relationship or marriage, but know in your heart that the right person is out there somewhere.

Regardless of what your year looked like, you can attract love in your life now. Finding love generally involves taking emotional risks, handling rejection and anxiety, leaving your hurt in the past, proceeding with confidence and most importantly, not putting your happiness in anyone else’s hands. It may also involve making changes to the way you approach meeting other singles and putting yourself out there in brave, new ways. So, if you are looking for love in the new year, here are five strategies to incorporate into your life.

1. Let go of the past and leave the baggage behind. We’ve all been wounded, hurt and angry in our lives. These wounds can feel even more brutal when they involve someone we love and can easily be carried into our present and future relationships if we are not aware. In the New Year, make a commitment to deal with your pain, heal unresolved emotional wounds and approach your love life with an open heart and mind. Even in a dark moment, resist trashing your ex, victimizing yourself or acting with anger while on a date. Instead, take what is relevant from the past to enrich your life and make healthy choices in the present. Remember that we are our healthiest selves when we reflect on our painful experiences and take time to heal, learn and grow. We are also most ready for love when we refuse to allow our past failed relationships, devastating breakups or heartbreaks to color how we feel about ourselves, others and the world.

2. Be open and emotionally ready for love. It is always interesting to hear some of my new clients describe their “perfect” man or woman and rattle off personality traits and adjectives that match their type. At times, they seem so attached to their description of their imaginary person that they have trouble picturing themselves with anyone who isn’t an exact replica. Often times, with further insight, dialogue and flexibility, they begin to see that they have been missing out on other potential partners because they did not meet their height requirements or lived 15 miles away instead of 10 miles. When my clients are able to let go of preconceived notions about who this person will be, where they will live, what type of job they will have, etc, they open themselves up to endless possibilities pertaining to love. As important as it is to visualize your future partner, it is just as important to understand that love can look different than we sometimes expect.

3. Take emotional risks and challenge yourself to jump out of your comfort zone. Rejection is a natural part of life that can feel even worse coming from someone you are interested in, although being able to handle rejection is critical to being successful in dating and finding love. Set an intention to resist taking everything personally while committing to not giving up on love during the disappointing moments. Embrace your inner courage and approach the attractive man or woman you hope to talk to, take a risk and give out your number or say yes to a blind date. These little shifts and actions create new connections and opportunities to meet new people and let love in.

4. Get involved and commit to using a variety of methods to meet other singles. Contributing to the community, volunteering and giving back are natural mood boosters that enhance our health. They are also great openings to meet new people, decrease loneliness and increase self-esteem. Use several methods to meet potential partners, such as community involvement, online dating, meet-up groups, educational classes, etc.

5. Treat yourself kindly, practice self-care and love yourself first. It is completely understandable that you are looking for a partner who can love you and accept you —  this is part of being human. However, it is most important to love yourself first. You can cultivate self-love by focusing on your positive qualities and accomplishments, doing away with the self-critical voice that beats you up when you make a mistake, practicing inner kindness and taking care of your own needs. Whether you are single, dating or in a relationship, commit to achieving your personal goals and making time for your own interests and relaxation. As Buddha stated, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!