Health & Wellness

10 dating decisions to find love in '09

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:

  1. I will be open to the possibility of changing my expectations in order to embrace a serious relationship.
  2. I am willing to take stock of my previous patterns and approach dating in a new and healthier way.
  3. I am aware that some of the things I’ve been looking for have been influenced by baggage from my childhood and previous relationships, and I’m willing to leave that baggage in 08.
  4. I believe there is more than one “ideal mate” per person, and a good partner is not defined by a list of achievements and traits, but by being willing and able to commit to making the relationship work.
  5. I will not project who I am and what I want in ways that are at odds with my true desires based on fulfilling some inauthentic ideal of what the “perfect partner” is supposed to be like.
  6. I will not be unduly influenced by the opinions of friends and family when it comes to knowing who and what I want in a potential mate.
  7. I will not regard myself as incomplete when I’m not in a relationship.
  8. I will not settle for someone who does not make me happy out of fear of being alone/single.
  9. I will make an ongoing effort to consider whether a person might be right bef ore disqualifying them based on initial decisions or snap judgments.
  10. I will explore new avenues and expand my social horizons to meet new people.

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!

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