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.