Onwards and upwards

So you’ve hammered that stake in the ground, learnt the lessons from 2011, have got the scars to prove it and promised faithfully that you’re not going to make the same mistakes with your love life in 2012 that you did last year.

Great – good start. But how do you make good on those promises?

This year, be bold. There’s a saying: it’s a small world. And that’s not just about bumping into people from the same home town as you when you vacation 4,000 miles away. It’s happening all around you, every day.

The way you handle people, the way they assess you – you may not realise it, but other people judge you on that basis, even if it is not them you’re directly involving yourself with at that given moment. Be it on your dating site, at the gym or in the office, you may be carrying on in a manner that’s putting off your perfect partner but you don’t recognise them, just yet. Everything’s relative – you’d better believe it.

Of course, all this may not be your fault, directly. If the environment in which you find yourself is causing you to act in a certain way, putting up barriers, reacting coldly or rashly if you don’t truly grasp what’s being asked of you, it will cause you to be constantly on the defensive.

With the odd exception, everyone we interact with is human. You may find that you have an impression of another person perhaps gleaned from something you’ve heard or because someone with whom you work holds a certain opinion. Never judge people until you have taken the time to interact with them personally. The strangest friendships have grown from the seeds of hostility; we all need relationships, be they in the real world or in the world of online dating.

Can you imagine logging in to your dating site and finding that you’ve been totally ignored – that no one has responded to your e-mails or invitations to chat?  Of course not.

However, unless you are able to communicate your true self, your heartfelt feelings, you will end up turning people away who you know are not what you’re looking for but, in their absence, the people who you are looking for may not be finding you because you’re giving the wrong signals or are not taking the time to develop any of the relationships any further than the intial communication.

Online dating can be like finding a needle in a haystack but, at the risk of clichéing myself out, mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Relationships are very much the same.

This year, take the time out to communicate, genuinely, with someone who you normally wouldn’t, even if it’s just to pass on the benefit of your experience. It may help them out of a jam and they, in turn, may return the favour, leading to pathways you would never have discovered had you not taken the time out beforehand.

Dating sites and relationships are like so many things in life – you get out of them what you put in; put nothing in and, well, need I say any more?

2012 – building bridges to a new start.

New year, new start, new love?

Okay, by now your hangover should have cleared up (if not, I’m partying with you, next New Year), you’re back at work and the memory of that guy or girl you picked up to get you through the festive season is just a ghost of Christmas past.

It’s the first week of January and it’s time to put a stake in the ground and take stock of your life up to this point. Now, this is not ground-breaking stuff that we’re going to be covering in the next couple of articles but they should serve as timely reminders to prove to be a springboard for what 2012 can hold if you make the best use of your dating sites. Use what you’ve learnt to date – the bad gunky as well as the happier lessons – and dive right in. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll find that the water’s lovely. You won’t even need a rubber ring!

Set realistic goals for your love life – there’s no rushing Mr or Mrs Right

Failure. It’s such a disheartening word but one many people connect with come the second week of the year. That’s because so many people set resolutions that are, frankly, unrealistic.

Falling in love by Valentine’s Day is perhaps a good example, but there are many others.

Weightloss is another classic that millions of people plump for as one year ends and another begins. What happens? Lack of planning, unrealistic goals and a lack of support from others often sees ‘dieting’ hopefuls bingeing before you can say Twelfth Night.

What people fail to appreciate – sticking with the weightloss example for a moment – is that it’s taken perhaps a lifetime of bad habits to get to the point where you’ve decided you’ve got to do something about it. That is a lot to change without professional help, which is why so many people fail before they even start.  Diets – like online dating sites – are not one size fits all, but are successful if you play them to your strengths.

Your love life is really no different to failed diets. If you have a succession of failure, always tripping up over the same hurdles but not learning from the mistakes, you are only kidding yourself by telling yourself you’re going to snare a partner in six weeks, or less if you’ve just decided that February 14th is your cut-off date for kindling that new, special relationship.

My guess is that, if you’re the type of person who got together with someone to get you through Christmas, you’re also the most likely candidate to be looking desperately for someone you can smother on Valentine’s Day purely in the hope of being spoilt, back. Even to the extent that you may already be considering that bod who got you through the last week of 2011, although you were glad to see the back of them come January 2nd?

Don’t do it! You’re just wasting your time and theirs. Instead, take a long, hard look in the mirror and be honest with the person looking back at you. Remember that stake in the ground – remember the bad gunky scars, but do not re-open the wound and bleed all over again – all that stuff’s the other side of your new marker.

From now on, it’s ‘Onwards and upwards’.