Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
I'm just going to start off by saying that you can't control your love life; you can only control your role in it. Not only that, but planning, plotting, and scheduling your dating trajectory are basically the antithesis of romance (not to mention fruitless exercises). With that said, entrusting the universe with something as important as a lifelong relationship not only takes the onus off of you, but it can feel incredibly frustrating at a certain point.
As with the other important areas of your life—your career, your friendships, your family, etc.—it's fulfilling to be proactive, make the effort, and have some semblance of control. Barring the obvious limitations, you can take the same approach to your love life—one that doesn't include going about your usual routine and expecting the relationship gods to have your back.
"Whether love life, business, or friendship—attraction follows pretty much the same rules," said Mike Iamele, author of Enough Already: Create Success on Your Own Terms. "[But] you can’t get what you want if you don’t know what it is in the first place." Below, read up on the small ways you can be proactive about your love life, even if you can't directly control the outcome:
Be Clear About What You Want
When you're looking for the right job, you clearly state your intention in the "objective" section of your résumé. Dating is no different—you can't hope to find the right person if you don't know what you're looking for (or if you're not being honest with yourself about what you want).
"Start thinking about the exact person you want to attract into your business or your life," writes Iamele for Mindbodygreen. "When you know what you’re looking for, you’re a lot more likely to find it." Believing you're worthy of that person is equally important—great partners can walk in and out of your life if you're not ready for them.
Be That Person Yourself
I'm a firm believer in the idea that you can only love someone as much as you love yourself. Expecting another person to make you feel whole can be a recipe for disaster. "Where people typically go wrong … is we want a person take care of us in a way that we aren't taking care of ourselves," explains Shelly Bullard, a family and marriage therapist.
For example, you seek someone who offers you security because you're not secure with yourself. Or you want someone who thinks you're beautiful because you don't believe it yourself. "Instead of trying to fill what's missing in your life with another person, be the things you desire," she adds. "This will speed up the process of finding the right person."
Go on Dates
After the mental heavy lifting comes the physical (and the obvious)—go on dates. Yes, dating apps are difficult and, yes, first dates can be painful. But you can't hope to find the partner of your dreams without physically doing anything.
"Creating the time to date; being open to opportunities, no matter where they come from; accepting invitations from men who 'aren't normally my type' — that is putting yourself out there," said Philip Petree, author of The Man Puzzle, to Bustle. "Having a profile on a dating site or hitting happy hour on Friday isn't [enough.]"
What dating advice would you add to this list? Share your thoughts with us below!