Behavioral therapy starts with just one step, followed by many repeats. Substitute your unwanted, self-destructive dating or love habits with behaviors that will work for you.
Use the truisms below once a day, every day, for a two-week attitude adjustment program. Keep the ones that particularly pertain to you in a post-it note, calendar reminder, or temporary tattoo to help keep your eye on the prize: the relationship you want and the person you want to be.
1. Stop practicing your bad habits right now. They only get harder to eliminate if you wait to break them. And if you don’t like your bad habits, there is a good chance your new love interest won’t be so crazy about them either. List the changes you want to make. Choose the first item on your list and make that change for the next 24 hours. That puts you over the behavioral hump. Then continue for as many 24-hour segments as you are willing to commit into infinity and beyond.
2. If it’s inert, it’s deadwood. Date only in the land of the living. I tend to favor the mental clarity and opportunity for re-education in eliminating the old love before bringing in new. Start today by saying goodbye to anyone who you don’t love, never will love, doesn’t help you feel good about yourself, or is ineligible, unavailable, or disinterested.
3. No one is perfect and you aren’t either. Perfectionism blocks you from your own personal best, happiness, and excellence. If you are still striving to be perfect, you are at risk for being judgmental and irritating. Perfectionists tend to be difficult to live with because they are hard on others, not just themselves. If this is you, do yourself a favor and stop being so hard on yourself and others. Starting today, take a break from your personality and strive for simply being adequately competent. You might be more lovable, likable, and get more accomplished as well.
4. The ugly truth is that appearances matter. You are not going to attract someone from across the room with your inner self. But, you will with good personal hygiene and a few embellishments that signal you want to attract. Add the beauty of a smile (if you don’t know how, practice on furniture) and a friendly, warm, welcoming demeanor. Try date level dressing when you don’t have a date. It’s a way to attract one.
5. Harried is not your best date look. Schedule additional time before a date to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. Looking good matters. Giving a relaxed, happy and playful vibe matters even more. I often ask my class and seminar participants to dress for a date, and always have some who haven’t freshened up after work. Take the saying, “Don’t let them see you sweat” literally. Looking touchable and smelling pleasant is nominal date dressing and will help you get in the mood to enjoy a good time. You need to signal that you have time for love in your life.
6. Don’t sink your love boat in a tsunami of inconsequential annoyances. The worst topic on a first date would be how wonderful your exes were. Next worst topic is how horrible they were. Stop carrying this baggage around. It’s a burden for you, and your date will know (should they choose to continue) they will have to help you carry it. Today, gripe less (on any subject) and you’ll find it easier to love more.
7. Don’t expect a whole lot more than you are willing to offer. Set up a spouse shopping list of your requirements for the lover you want and then review. Get what you want and need, but give a thought to whether the person you’ve described would want you. If you two would seem like a match, great. If not, either reduce your expectations or get going in the personal overhaul department.
8. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is one definition of insanity. Stop badgering your friends with your (real or perceived) mishaps and misdeeds and stop counting them. Keeping a running total of flaws is a very bad idea. Instead, list your strengths and keep it for ready for reference when the going gets tough.
9. Somewhere, somehow, sometime, someone will trip you up. Just don’t let it be you. Negative self-talk is a crippling disorder. How great is your date or mate going to think you are when you drag your battered self-image to the table. Do yourself a favor. Make today a “I will not pick on myself for any reason at all” sort of day. Take a vacation from your own cranky opinions.
10. Put this on your calendar: get up, get out, and do something –anything! Schedule dates to meet new matches at least three times a week. Set up a month’s worth of dating opportunities and protect the time. Build your personal pipeline for tapping into many pools for meeting a partner: some you are familiar with, some you are not, and some places you never thought you would go. And let your fingers do the walking. Sign on line regularly. Everyone likes a timely response.
11. Relationships flourish with common values and goals, open communication, emotional availability and unconditional love. Think about who you are and what you want your life to be and be prepared to share the information. Learn how to listen, love without judgment, and reveal yourself freely. You can’t feel loved if you aren’t understood and you can’t be understood unless you are able share the truth about yourself.
12. Change happens with or without you. You might as well anticipate and participate. Your personal objective is not to be the umpire for what is going on around you or an observer of life. Decide to be part of the action and make a daily choice of what to do, what to create, what to accept, and what to change.
13. It’s easier to reach for the stars when you have someone to hold the ladder. Most important is a secure hold. Only keep the ones you can trust. Choose based on who wants to help and is willing to stargaze with you. Be willing to share your dreams and goals early in dating and ask about their dreams and goals as well.
14. Your glass is half-full (or overflowing), if you believe it is. View yourself as fortunate and desirable. This attitude will greatly help your self-marketing program to potential partners by presenting yourself in the best possible light. If you don’t think you are a good catch, why would they?
Following this self-therapy exercise every day for just two weeks can improve your chances of finding love and keeping the love you find. Most importantly, it can help boost your positive feelings about yourself. People tend to marry at their level of self-esteem. Anything that contributes to feeling better about yourself will help you to draw a mate who matches the new and improved version of you!