If you’re joining a dating site for the first time or after a long hiatus, you’re not alone. This is the busiest online-dating week of the year—and the high traffic will continue until Valentine’s Day. It’s not just that many people decide to make “find a partner” an item on their New Year’s resolution list—though of course many are. The surge also occurs this time of year because a higher-than-average number of couples break up right before the holidays.
If online dating is on your New Year’s to-do list, here are a few other resolutions to consider.
“I will pace myself.” When you’re newly single, there is often an impulse to become un-single as quickly as possible. So you cram your calendar with dates, hoping to secure that plus-one by wedding season. While this method has certainly worked for some—I know a woman who met her husband after “power-dating” for a month—it more frequently leaves people exhausted and demoralized.
“I will widen my social circle.” I frequently get letters from single people who feel profoundly lonely in their life—mentioning friends who have coupled off or moved away. They’re looking for a romantic relationship to fill that void. There’s nothing wrong with that—everyone does it to a certain extent—but it’s also important to seek out other forms of social sustenance.
Seeking new, or rekindling old, platonic friendships—through clubs, classes, volunteer work, etc.– does two things. First, it puts less pressure on your dating life—now the person you’re meeting for a beer is no longer your only source of interpersonal connection. It also increases your chances of meeting someone in the non-digital world—the more people you know, the more people you know.
“I will take care of myself.” Classic New Year’s resolutions stress self-improvement. You vow to go the gym or quit carbs as a means of making yourself more attractive and fit. This is called being “good.” But then you slip—you blow off the gym for a week and eat a bowl of chocolate-chip cookie dough after a bad day at work. This is called being “bad,” and frequently leads to a lot of self-judgment. “I’m so weak!” “I have no willpower!” etc.
Instead of focusing on “improving,” try committing to taking care of yourself. Instead of focusing on how you look to others, pay attention to how the healthy habits make you feel. Do you have more energy? Are you more alert? Do you sleep better? Noting these benefits will help you bounce back when you relapse into your old habits—because you will. But this time, instead of flagellating yourself, you can remember how great the salads and the spin class made you feel. This will make it much easier to get back in the stationary-bike saddle.
What are your New Year’s dating resolutions?
Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.