For many singles, January means shaking off the holiday blues and starting their New Year’s resolution to find love.
While you’re not guaranteed to find your soulmate, you’re very likely to get a date: The beginning of the year typically brings a spike in online dating activity. Many popular apps like Match.com and Tinder report increases in sign-ups around this time of year, which means you’ve got more opportunities than ever to find your perfect match – and a greater risk of choosing the wrong partner.
Being careful and highly selective about your dates is the key to romantic success. Here are a few ways to narrow down the pool and choose the right person to date this year.
1. Recognize And Avoid Negative Past Patterns
Reliving pain from bad past relationships may be the last thing you want to do, but it’s a critical step to ensuring your future happiness. In a Psychology Today article, Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., notes that many people subconsciously choose partners who place them in familiar, unpleasant scenarios from previous experiences.
“We feel drawn to people who allow us to recreate dynamics that are familiar and who reinforce negative ideas we’ve long had about ourselves,” Firestone wrote. “By recognizing our patterns, we can start to make different choices and give someone different a chance.”
2. Look Beyond Your Preconceived Notions Of What A Partner “Should” Be
According to Firestone, people end up limiting their options for partners based on their defined “type,” or by setting rigid, specific standards for a good mate. There’s no reason to ignore a budding connection just because the person has “too much” or “not enough” of a certain quality that you desire. Keep an open mind and don’t rule out anyone based on superficial criteria like their career or living situation. Get to know your potential partner and, if you feel a spark, give yourself a chance to explore it.
3. Pay Close Attention To Early Conversations And Behaviors
In the early phases of dating, people tend to reveal a lot about themselves to establish a rapport. You and your date are both presenting yourselves in the best light (as you should), and you may find yourself fascinated with this potential partner.
Before you get too invested, take off the rose-colored glasses and look critically at what they say and do. Are they overly charming, but quick to anger? Do they constantly brag about accomplishments? Do they act important by being rude to waiters or cutting people off in traffic? Have they hinted at a string of short-lived or tumultuous relationships? All of these could be signs of a narcissistic person who may not be capable of truly caring about you, your feelings, or your well-being.
4. Continually Evaluate The Relationship As It Progresses
A relationship is only healthy when both partners feel satisfied, fulfilled, and respected. Things may seem perfect when you first start out, but once you’re past the “honeymoon phase,” evaluate your current feelings and dynamic. If your new partner begins exhibiting troubling behaviors – controlling your mutual activities, getting overly jealous or insecure, not communicating regularly, etc. – take a step back and consider whether you’re in a toxic relationship. This is especially important to do before you take a big step like moving in together.
If it turns out this person isn’t Mr. or Ms. Right, do what’s right for you and leave them behind. Starting over (again) can be disheartening and difficult, but it’s worth it to make sure you’re investing your time, energy, and emotions in someone who will do the same for you.