No matter how many people you meet or date, the common denominator in your love life is you. One half of all of your relationships will always consist of you, and you are the only person that you know for sure will be a part of your love life for ever. Making sure that you know and like yourself is the foundation of your love life, and will make everything else a lot easier.
Therefore, ask yourself these five questions before you go on your next date:
1. What are the best things about dating me?
It's easy to get caught up in how interesting the person we are dating is, but you must also know and see clearly the reasons why you are interesting to date, and embrace those things about yourself. Otherwise it will be very challenging to feel worthy of other peoples love, kindness and attention.
We all have a tendency to feel more comfortable with people who don't challenge our self image but see us the same way we see ourselves. This applies even when we have a negative self image. That means if you don't believe you're a catch, you are more likely to date people who don't either, and who treat you accordingly. Fortunately, it also works the other way around, so the more you value yourself, the better you will expect others to treat you.
Make a list of 10 great things about dating you.
Read it often, and always before going on a date.
2. How do I want people to treat me?
What makes you feel respected and appreciated? What kind of behavior do you appreciate and enjoy? This is different for everyone. A prerequisite for being treated the way that you want is that you are clear about what that means for you. Then you can communicate to others what you need, or leave the situation if you don't feel respected. Because sometimes you will need to leave, even if someone is really hot, looks good on paper or has a lot of potential, but doesn't' treat you well. If it comes to that, it really helps to have clear standards about what is okay with you and what isn't.
List at least five things that are non-negotiable for you.
Practice showing and telling people you date that this is important to you, and why.
3. How will I know when I've met the right person?
Do you know what you are looking for in a partner and in a relationship? Many times we just trust that we will feel and know it when it's right, but that's not enough. You have to make a conscious choice and think about what you want as well. Choosing your partner is one of your biggest and most important life decisions and our relationships shape our lives. You can't leave it to chance. Butterflies are awesome, but you must also involve your logical thinking in your love life. Plus, it's easier to get what you want when you know what you want.
When going on a date, focus more on finding out if that person is a good match for you than if they like you.
4. How much do I want to share?
Dating is a way of getting to know each other, which is something everyone is comfortable doing at a different pace. Your date has a right to ask you questions, propose topics for conversation or come up with suggestions for what to do on the date, but you are always in charge of what you feel comfortable sharing and doing.
Other people can't read your mind and don't know what you like, want and need unless you tell them. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, explain how you feel and suggest another topic of conversation or an activity you like better. Respect your own limits and ask your date to do the same.
What would you love talk to this person about and do on your date? Suggest that!
5. What have I learned from my previous dates and relationships?
We usually don't see dating, love and relationships as something we can practice and learn from, but it's a part of your life that is just as available for learning and growth as any other, like your physical health or your career. And you probably wouldn't use the "it happens when it happens"-strategy to get where you want to go in those areas, so don't leave your love life hanging either. Choose to learn from your mistakes and successes to create the experiences that you are longing. The best way to find the answers to questions 1-4 is to learn from experience!
Look back on your love life and think about what worked for you and what didn't.
Consider how you can use that knowledge to your advantage to make your next date as great as possible.
By discovering the answers to these five questions, you will be in a much better place when it comes to your next date, and your love life in general. Happy dating!
About the Author: Linnea Molander is a dating coach, freelance journalist and blogger for Match.com.
She is the founder of Happy Dating - Positive Psychology For Your Dating Life