Step 1: Envision your ideal mate
You’ve got to know what it is you want before you “put it out there to the universe,” so spend some time honestly evaluating your marriage, past relationships and any crushes you may have had along the way. This will help you figure out the must-have qualities in a good partner for you. “Writing those traits down helps keep you focused,” says Harrell. “State clearly what you do want (“He/She is loyal”), not what you don’t (“My partner won’t cheat”).
Step 2: Tackle your own insecurities about dating and relationships
If you try to meet someone great while you’re still grappling with self-doubt, any minor setback could be interpreted as further “proof” that you’re not cut out for dating. But by taking responsibility for whatever emotional work you still need to do after the end of a relationship, you’re able to experience each new person on his or her own merits. This is much better than unrealistically expecting a new partner to “fix” what’s missing in your life.
Step 3: Focus only on the good things after each date
Not every attempt at romance is going to work out, but you can put even the worst dates to work for you in a positive way. “At least 90% of the time, you can say at least one positive thing about a date… find something that you liked about it,” says Lori Gorshow, a dating coach. “Maybe she had amazing eyes or you like how he really listened. Use that information to better know what you’re looking for in a long-term partner.”
Step 4: Convince yourself that you’re worthy of lasting love
Of course, finding the right person won’t do much good if you don’t believe you’re worthy of having him or her as your eventual spouse. You can break those old self-doubting habits by creating a personal mantra worth repeating to yourself regularly. Your affirmation can be anything you say to yourself in the present tense that’s simple, concise, and positive (think: “I have a healthy, loving relationship,” or “I’m a beautiful person worth loving”).
Step 5: Be picky about the people whom you choose to date
Your list of “must-haves” may seem like it’s decimating your field of potential mates, but really, it’s only weeding out the misfires. “When people are hurt, they sometimes think they have to take advantage of any opportunity available,” says Gorshow. “But at a certain point, you’re just wasting your own time.” A dating checklist empowers you to screen for red flags and move on when you see them instead of spending more time on each person “just in case” there’s potential.
Step 6: Let your positive self-image shine through on dates
A good attitude isn’t just the key to finding more dates — demonstrating the right outlook can also ensure you keep other quality singles interested in taking things to the next level. “People are generally more attracted to someone with a positive attitude than a negative person,” says Harrell. So when you’re out with a new love interest, be sure to talk about the things you truly love and that make you light up (i.e., your favorite hobbies, a trip you took recently with friends) rather than dwelling on unpleasant subjects (like why you’re still single, or how rude your waiter is being to you both tonight).
Step 7: Have an outlet for dealing with day-to-day stress
You’ll stay more positive about dating when you are able to keep your life’s everyday stressors in perspective. “Have a routine that helps you deal with stress, whether it’s exercise, sports, spa treatments, or mantras,” advises Riche. “Find something that feeds your soul and quiets your mind and do it regularly, not just when there’s something stressful going on.”