1. Believe in love. The message from the one of the classic children's books Polar Express was simple: believe. No matter how old you are or how many times you have to start over, you must believe that love is out there and that you are deserving of it. If you believe that it's out there for you, in whatever form, then you'll find it. You'll also be able to weather whatever storm comes your way because you'll have hope in your heart. Believing in love is the only way you'll be able to follow the rest of the lessons.
2. Guard your heart. If you find yourself drawn to relationships with men who are unstable or treat you poorly, don't allow it or make excuses for them. Instead, run the other way and protect your heart from those who will harm you. Your heart is precious and meant to be cherished — so keep it in tact for the person that will do just that.
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3. Love yourself first. We've all heard that you can't love anyone unless you love yourself. This is true. If you're not taking care of your own physical, emotional or mental needs, you won't be able to devote yourself to a healthy, loving relationship. It's kind of like a flight attendant's emergency instructions. You need to put on an oxygen mask on yourself first before you tend to everyone else.
3. Don't be codependent. If you want to find a healthy relationship, don't be someone's caretaker. Make it a point to stop mothering people who are grown, capable adults, people who are only using you to their advantage at your expense or people who don't care about you. Instead, use your energy to start taking care of yourself and to ready yourself for real love to enter your life.
4. Don't take rejection personally. When people judge or criticize you, don't take it to heart. Instead, ask yourself, does their opinion really matter to me? Is there merit to what they're saying and is there something I need to work on? Life's too short to care about what other people think about you. As long as you're happy with yourself, that's all that matters.
5. Don't expect perfection from others — or yourself. There's no such thing as perfection, so don't expect or demand it from yourself or anyone else in your life, especially people you are dating. Even if you know you could do better for yourself, or someone or something disappoints you, remember that no one, not even you, can do everything perfectly. Let it go.
6. Be open to love. We all have a list of qualities we're looking for in someone, but don't rule someone out just because they don't match up on paper. You might miss out on something better than you could have imagined or asked for on a list. I discuss this more in my previous article, Why I Decided To Date A Conservative
7. Set boundaries. Sometimes, we want to do it all but there are not enough hours in the day. If we try to do too much for the people we love, we could be left feeling drained and overwhelmed. Setting boundaries in your life and your relationships is not only healthy, but it's necessary. Learn to say the word 'no' and you'll be able to fully say the word 'yes' more often.
8. Be patient with yourself. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. Though many of us who are looking for love want it now, feel tired of dating, or even get anxious about our biological clocks ticking, rushing yourself and your relationships will only cause you to crash and burn. So follow and appreciate the path to love so that you don't miss what it's trying to tell you.
9. Be your own best friend. Talk to yourself as you would a friend — yes, really! You'd never tell a friend that they're not good enough, pretty enough or smart enough to be loved, so why would you talk to yourself that way? Be kind to yourself and instantly you will feel the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders.
10. Lead with your heart. If you've ever made a pros and cons list to help decide whether someone you're dating is the right one for you, rip it up. Sometimes, we need to map out our future, but when you're dating, there's only so much time you can spend analyzing whether or not that person is the one. Instead, follow your heart and you'll end up exactly where you need to be in the new year - and always.
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What's your New Year's love resolution?