6 Things All Smart Girls Do Before Starting New Relationships

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You've been on a few dates with a guy and you two have a great connection. You're thinking of becoming "official" but are hesitant to jump into anything serious.

Maybe you were burned in past relationships or haven't even dated anyone in a while. Maybe all your ex-boyfriends were seriously lame or you don't have much luck with your online dating profile.

Any negative experience is preventing you from allowing your new relationship to blossom, all because you don't know how to approach it. You're thinking: What if we aren't actually compatible? What if he hogs the whole bed when we sleep? What if his parents don't like me?

You're getting into your own head and psyching yourself out from a relationship you haven't even started yet!

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Breathe. If you have a great guy and really think this could go somewhere, there are some things you need to know before you get ahead of yourself (and ruin this potential thing). And it all starts with making sure you are true to YOU. Because smart girls should never change themselves for a man, even if it might be her fairytale romance.

1. Understand that your past relationships don't define your future ones.

Whatever went wrong in your last relationship does NOT determine what happens in your next one. Your last boyfriend was a cheater and snuck around behind your back, but that doesn't mean a potential boyfriend will do the same thing.

You need to realize that these are two different men; they will not have the same habits or bad behaviors. Plus, with every relationship we end, we learn something.

So if you suspect your new man is cheating, you know the proper steps to take so you don't repeat the same pattern of hurt. Think of a future relationship as a clean slate.

2. Always maintain your independence.

Being in a relationship shouldn't be your only source of happiness. If you date yourself first, you become more open to dating. Figure out what you like to do — writing, reading, going out with friends, spending alone time in a coffee shop — without anyone else putting their two cents in.

Yes, being in a relationship means putting someone else's interests ahead of your own at times, but you are allowed to be selfish. Own your independence and don't forfeit what makes you happy just to make someone else happy. Be selfish for yourself, and selfless for your significant other.

3. Remember that being single isn't a curse.

If you've been single up to this point where you're thinking of starting a relationship, what happens if it doesn't work out? You're back to being single again! But just because you're single doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you. And honestly, being single is much better than being a serial dater who isn't truly happy.

When you're dating someone (or multiple people), a relationship isn't guaranteed. You might not even have a connection with him! So don't get into a relationship for the sake of being in one. It's not fair to either of you, and if there isn't a connection... well, on to the next one.

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4. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Focusing on the tiny habits of a potential boyfriend will stop your connection right in its tracks. You haven't even asked him out yet and you're already annoyed at the way he eats. Evaluate yourself and what makes you tick; otherwise, you'll never stop fighting and feel like you're walking on eggshells.

Everyone has something about them that others may not like but if the way someone brushes their teeth fills you with a hot, fiery anger of a thousand suns, the problem lies within you. Learn to accept him for who he is, just as he should for you. Instead of pinpointing minutia, focus on the big picture, like how you feel about him.

5. Never, EVER, settle.

It's self-explanatory. If you don't click with someone, it's not a big deal. You won't have chemistry with every man you meet. To find a relationship worth having, you need to test the waters out a bit. So, if you don't have a connection with a guy, it's perfectly fine. Don't try to force something that isn't there.

When you settle, you are selling yourself short of the real romance and love you deserve. If this man gets upset when things don't go his way, insists on ordering your food for you, or feels entitled to point out your "love handles," your new relationship will easily turn sour.

You cannot change someone who doesn't want to, or doesn't realize how their negative actions effect others — namely, you. You have complete control over your romantic life.

6. Love yourself FIRST.

It's very cliché, but so true! As Ru Paul says, "If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?"

We are all insecure about something, but become vulnerable when we think poorly of ourselves. Negative thinking and self-doubt just makes it okay for someone else to treat you the same way (AKA a new boyfriend).

You should be happy with who you are on the inside before you allow someone else to love you. If not, your insecurities eventually project themselves ... right onto your new relationship. Take some time to focus on YOU before jumping into anything. Learn how to feel comfortable in your own skin.

Women are different when it comes to the kind of relationship they want, so whatever tickles your fancy, make sure you're being smart about it. In the end, we all want love and to be loved.

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Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.