One of the best ways you can prepare for a fulfilling relationship in the future is to lead a fulfilling life right now. “Too many people put their lives, and the experiences they would like to have, on hold while they wait for a relationship,” Sharp said.
For instance, he’s met people who love to travel but don’t because they’re single. “Single people should approach life with the idea that if there is something they would like to experience, it is worth experiencing it by themselves.”
Examining your own sticking points also helps you prepare yourself. Start by looking at yourself, your relationship history and the expectations you have for relationships, Sharp said.
He suggested these additional strategies:
Look for problematic patterns in past relationships. If it’s a problem that’s followed you into more than one relationship, it’s probably an issue you need to work on, Sharp said.
Examine how you grew up, and compare it to other families. Many of us assume that how we grew up is the only right approach. And we typically take these ideas and expectations into our romantic relationships. The problem? All families are different. Thinking that your family’s ways are best can lead to conflict and sabotage relationships.
Specifically, examine what you learned about conflict and problem solving; expressing anger; sharing personal information; expressing affection; and gender roles and behavior, he said. This can help you negotiate issues in your future relationship more effectively, and not take it so personally when you’re not treated the way you expected, Sharp said.
Ask honest friends for feedback. Ask close friends who can be honest with you and have good relationships themselves about your weaknesses and sticky points, Sharp said.
Pay attention to your emotions and triggers. “The stronger [your] responses, the more likely it is that you are dealing with a hot issue that may provide some problems,” Sharp said. Learn to spot the signs your body gives when you’re starting to experience an emotion, he said. This helps you figure out your triggers.
As you prepare for a healthy relationship, explore your own expectations and sticky points. Focus on becoming “the best possible and most confident individual [you] can be,” Sharp said.