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By Sex therapist and relationship counselor
TODAY contributor
updated 1/8/2009 4:13:24 PM ET 2009-01-08T21:13:24

Okay, so we’re only a week or so into the New Year, but are you already exhausted by the prospect of stepping back onto the dating treadmill? Regardless of all the hype about 2009 being a year of “change,” are you getting the sinking feeling that it’s going to be more of the same when it comes to your love life?

What “dating debris” are you bringing into 2009?

  • Do you feel like you’re racing against the clock? Like you’re running behind schedule compared to where you thought you’d be by this age and in comparison to your friends and peers?
  • Does your family pressure you to settle down and get married?
  • Are you forever running on rebound? Have you experienced a heartbreak or loss that is still affecting you?
  • Are you just plain sick and tired of all the bad dates? Do they make you feel like you’re somehow attracting the wrong people?

There is an old sailing adage that suggests, “stormy seas make able sailors.” Well this is true of your romantic life as well. All those bad dates you’ve suffered through year after year? All those messy break-ups, empty hook-ups and false starts you’ve endured? Maybe it’s possible to start to seeing them as steps to finding what you really want.

So before you pack it in and watch your New Years resolutions recede into the past, consider these 10 dating decisions for '09:

I often tell people that finding and sustaining love is a lot like acquiring a piece of art: you  should wait to be struck and captivated by someone you want to take home and frame. But all too often we do the opposite: We walk around with our “frames,” desperately trying to fit others into them. Not only do we get stuck on a fixed idea of whom we should be with, but we carry those frames with us into our intimate relationships, where they shape our expectations and, ultimately, our disappointments. Our frames are narrow and confining, offering only a tiny window into the world through which we are constantly “looking” rather than truly “seeing.” Worse, our frames also become shields, blocking others from getting through.

I sincerely hope that 2009 provides you with the resolution, fortification and good fortune to question and dismantle your frames: to not only let yourself see people for who they are, but to know yourself and truly be seen for who you are.

You only have one love life, so live it to the fullest!

Ian Kerner is a sex therapist, relationship counselor and New York Times best-selling author of numerous books, including "She Comes First" and the soon-to-be-published "Love in the Time of Colic: the New Parents' Guide to Getting it On Again." He was born and raised in New York City, where he lives with his wife and two sons. He can be reached at www.IanKerner.com

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