Searching for Love in All the Right Ways

Welcome to our new feature about love: how to find it and how to keep it alive and vibrant. I hope this column will pave the way
for you to find the love you seek.

When it comes to relationships, if you want it to be terrific, you need to be specific; this is actually great advice for any endeavor you undertake. Can you assess with specificity where you are in life and define the places where you aspire to go – physically, professionally and personally? If so, have you made a checklist of the steps to reach these places? Or does your list only include the things you don’t want while the things you DO want remain nebulous?

To obtain what you want and to get where you want to go, you first have to define the what and where. You also have to know why you want what you want. Knowing why moves you forward. Without a list of good reasons, it’s easy to make excuses for not taking action. After all, why would you vigorously move toward a goal when you don’t even understand why you want to reach it? Once you determine your what, where and why, the next issue to address is how.

Although many find these questions easier to answer in their professional life, it’s equally important to define your personal goals, especially at the inception of dating or a new relationship. To begin this process, I suggest you complete an exercise I call “Be a Reporter of Your Own Life.” Ask yourself the six basic journalistic questions so the answers can become the core of an action plan to focus on your goals.
seeing the world of love, dating and relation- ships in new and different ways.
Some columns will feature questions from readers such as the following:

1. WHO will be the participants? A helpful starting point is a “wish list” of the characteristics you are searching for in a mate, which may be refined as you meet prospective partners. While it’s good idea to make this list, try to be flexible. Sometimes features you thought were so important may get relegated to the bottom of your list when you encounter a person to whom you connect on a higher level. To recognize the type of person who would make an appropriate new partner, you also need to determine who you are. If you’ve recently ended a relationship, you’re probably not the same person you were at the inception of this past relationship. If the last time you dated was many years ago, you may have an outdated mental picture of yourself. In both these instances, your concept of self may need some adjusting.

2. WHAT concrete steps are you going to take to meet people; for example, will you join an Internet dating site, go to a matchmaker or start hanging out at Starbucks? If you’ve just ended a relationship, what steps have you taken to grieve this loss before you look for a new partner? What result will you consider a success?

3. WHEN will you put your plan into action? Will you give yourself a deadline to complete various steps; for example, how soon will you post your profile on the Internet?

4. WHERE are the venues you intend to use to meet prospective dates? Are they online? Are they local, such as meet-up groups or professional network- ing outlets? Are you considering looking for a long-distance romance? When you do meet dates, where will these get-togethers take place to ensure your safety?

5. WHY do you want to start dating? Do you want a life partner, to have fun or just lessen your bore- dom? Determining your why allows you to be clear in your agenda – and, yes, everyone has some sort of agenda, which does not necessarily have a nega- tive connotation. It might not be fair to date those who are looking for a serious relationship when you are only interested in casual dating. Someone is going to get hurt in that scenario.

6. HOW are you going to prepare for success? If your previous efforts have not been fruitful, you might want to do some research to learn how to ap- proach dating and relationship development in the most effective manner. You could speak to friends, read books, take a class or consult a professional.

So many people are successful using online dating as a way to meet people. Why am I having such a hard time?
It’s probably because you haven’t learned to use this venue in an effective manner. Here are six rookie mistakes.

1. Without any forethought, you wrote your online profile. It has typos, grammatical errors and misspellings. It’s also boring and reads like every other profile with statements such as, “I like sunsets and walks on the beach.” Remember that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression, and your profile is it!

2. You didn’t upload a picture, or you’re using one that doesn’t capture your best qualities. It’s outdated; blurry; too small; and the background is telling a wrong story about you.

3. You’re rigid in your age parameters of prospective dates.

4. You’re basing your interest and willingness to meet solely on physical attributes.

5. You’re waiting around for someone to contact you instead of searching for those who fulfill your criteria. You know best the type of person who interests you.

6. You’re sending out bad karma by not being courteous. If you’re not interested in a person, at least write back with a “Thanks, but no thanks.”

In the coming months, I will help you answer some of these questions by suggesting specific actions you can take to see a myriad of options for dating; hone the vision of your true self; determine the type of partner you seek; jump-start your dating career; and, once you find love, have a successful and healthy relationship. I hope to open your eyes to

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