I’m always amazed by how we meticulously formulate carefully thought-out plans for every aspect of our lives; including our careers, our education, our parenting, even our vacations. But when it comes to our love lives, certainly an enormously important aspect of our existence, we sort of get carried along randomly with the current of the ocean, with no plan at all. We get pushed toward physical attraction, pushed toward availability, pushed toward whoever happens to be pursuing us, or pushed toward any number of other potential loves that involve no forethought. Then, after a while, we come up for air and wonder how we ever landed in this bad relationship. Well, here’s a compelling answer: We didn’t start out with a well thought-out plan, and that’s exactly what we need to do. Here’s how to begin…
For the New Year, construct a list of approximately five well thought-out traits that are your “must have” qualities in a partner. This inventory should not be a long laundry list with every possible detail included; just the traits which are “deal breakers” if they are not in place. This is your own personal list of what is truly important to you, not what “should be” important to you. Define each quality very specifically. Try to include enduring character traits that would still be in place 10 years from now. Write out your list, taking advantage of the power of the written word, and reread it often.
Beginning with the first few sentences of conversation with a potential partner, actively listen for evidence that possibly shows that this person possesses your “must have” traits. Of course, you will need to get to know him/her a lot better to determine for sure; what you are looking to detect now, is the POTENTIAL that the person has the key qualities that you selected. Keep checking back with your list regularly as your interactions progress.
For the sake of a simple and concrete example, if it happens to be really important to you that your potential partner be a family minded person, ask what he/she did last weekend or on his last vacation. Listen for who he/she was with. Was it a family member? Ask a few more similar questions and see if there’s a pattern of plans with close relatives or on the other hand, if a brother, sister, parent, son, daughter, or cousin is never mentioned. You will ascertain fairly quickly, if this individual potentially possesses your “must have” trait of family mindedness. This method will probably be more effective then asking outright, “are you family minded?” Often the response to that type of question will be a guess of what he/she thinks you would like to hear.
Here’s the kicker: Make a commitment to yourself to be flexible about all other traits that are not on your list. You will definitely find qualities that you are not thrilled about, but you can learn to accept the person as a total package, the same way that you would want to be accepted with all of your wonderful strengths and weaknesses.
Now embrace the New Year, and get out there and use your well thought-out plan to find new love. Instead of wondering later on how you landed in a bad relationship, you will hopefully know exactly how you found the right one: By following your very own blueprint.