By Charreah K. Jackson
Happy New Year Single Wives! You’ve survived prying relatives asking about your marriage prospects and ex-boyfriends trying to get you under the mistletoe. And as 2014 kicks off, it’s the perfect time to ensure you are ready for love.
Make Room for Love
Before beginning a new relationship, you have to clean shop of your heart and home. Many of my clients have come to me wanting a strong relationship and an active dating life. When I start to ask about past relationships, a pseudo-ex or current “friend” pops up of a guy they aren’t officially dating but still obviously in their heart. We often hear about women’s intuition. But men can also sense when you are not 100% available. Before you can invite someone new into your space, you have to clear out the ghosts of relationship pasts. Does the mention of your ex still cause your eyes to become slits? Only sleep on “your” side of the bed two years after a breakup? Still regularly checking the Facebook page of the cutie that could have been? Those are signs of relationship residue that can taint new love, if not cleared. Physically purge any reminders or digital connections of old flames.
Uncover Your Relationship Habits
Like our physical behavior, our dating DNA is part nature and part nurture. There is a reason all the dating reality shows bring on the parents of the contestants. They provide a peek into how you can be in relationships. Are healthy relationships in your family? Do you model your mom’s knack to shut down during arguments or your dad’s routine of bringing up the past? It’s important to recognize the habits you have picked up and decide which to keep and lose. Also think back on past relationships to discover patterns. Do you usually date emotionally-unavailable men? Are you often giving an ultimatium? Ask close friends to share their observations to find your blind spots.
A big chunk of a strong relationship is letting someone else see our full selves, including the parts we would prefer to keep hidden. True intimacy is not about taking your clothes off but letting your guard down. To prepare for a strong relationship means to prepare to share. You don’t have to wait for romance to start sharing more of you with those you already love and trust. Work to let your closest friends and family in on more of your life. Instead of the routine “fine” to questions of how you are doing, let your circle know about the stress at work or the medical issues your grandmother is facing. Get in the habit of letting loved ones see all of you.
Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness
One way to ensure an enriching relationship for the future is to have an enriching life now. Begin now doing the things and going to the places you would with a partner. Daydream of traveling the world with your beau? Don’t wait until he comes along to start filling up your passport. When he does show up, you will already be in your groove and able to illustrate the life you expect to live. The perfect mate will compliment all you have going on, not complete you. You were born whole! So work to be your best self because a woman turned on by her own life is irresistible to the world.
Complete Your Single Girl Checklist
Sometimes we can be so caught up on what we don’t have, we miss what we do. Not waking up to your dream man on Saturday morning, may be the perfect time to take that yoga class you’ve been eyeing – and another way to meet new people. The time of “just doing me” can be fleeting, so soak up the chance for spontaneous adventures and whims. I ask my coaching clients to define three to five goals they want to complete before marriage, and challenge you to do the same. One young woman shared she would ideally get married in five years, and before marriage she would like to learn another language, live in another country and get her Master’s Degree. She obviously had plenty to do to accomplish those goals, instead of wasting time worrying about a date for Friday night. While preparing for your future, be sure to enjoy this special time in your life!
Charreah K. Jackson is a dating coach and the Relationships Editor for ESSENCE magazine. The Atlanta-native lives and loves in New York. Connect with her on Twitter at @Charreah.