If you want to find and keep the best possible person for you, start with being the best you can be. The most desirable mates are not looking for someone to adopt. They are shopping for a good deal.

The following guidelines will help you self-market. First, do your best to change whatever needs fixing. Second, don’t let whatever isn’t fixable show (and remember that if you are a work in progress). A date is not a rabbi or a therapist – it’s a date. Do not present less desirable qualities or bad situations as the definition of who you are. If you tell someone you are a problematic person and not worth their love right up front, they’ll probably do you the courtesy of believing you.

1. Start From the Inside Out

Harried is not sexy; and being overwhelmed signals you really don’t have the space in your life to be a good partner. Do what you need to do to achieve peace of mind. A relaxed attitude is attractive and also sends a clear and lovely message that you have time for love in your life.

Procrastination takes its toll psychologically. It keeps your mind cluttered and robs you of a sense of accomplishment. Procrastinators usually have overly long to-do lists. Be realistic. Do only what needs to be done. Either take a task off your list, or get started. Then schedule time for you. Either believe or pretend that you deserve personal, educational, and spiritual development… and periods of R&R.

Evaluate criticism. Determine if the critique fits you. If so, you have been given a gift. If a criticism doesn’t fit, there’s a 90% chance your critics are describing themselves. Be grateful for words of advice from the healthy people who care about you. Do not accept critiques from toxic sources. It is useless negativity.

Compliment yourself. Being less judgmental with yourself will make you easier on the people in your life as well. People who accept themselves are less likely to be judgmental toward their dates and mates.

2. Things to do at Home

Improve it. It’s your nest. In it you can do pretty much anything you want, so make it a place you want to be in — for playing, praying, exercising, cooking, and relaxing. Fill it with wonderful aromas. Play music sweet to your ears. Create comfortable spaces for yourself and guests.

Reduce clutter. Give or throw away what you don’t need or love. Organize the rest. It’s good for you, and depending on where you donate it, it might be tax deductible.

Turn off the phone. Don’t answer when you need uninterrupted time for yourself or for building intimacy; make time for intimacy a regular feature in your home. Date time should not be interrupted by cell phone calls or texts from work, friends, family, etc. You, and anyone you may want to love, needs breaks from the outside world.

Turn down the volume. Electronic media promotes negativity. Do stay current and informed, but select a news source that screens out gratuitous violence and keep the noise level at 30 or below to decrease noise pollution in your home.

3. Things to do Outside the Home

Divorce difficult friends. Almost everybody is occasionally hard to handle and so are you. Leave behind the people who are hard all the time. They will hinder you in reaching your goal and in the future be a stress in your marriage

Your time is precious. Reduce the amount of time you spend with people who believe happy people are unrealistic. Happiness is an attainable state of mind. Collect people who agree with this concept and you are doubling your chances of maintaining it.

Don’t fix what works. Not every relationship requires analysis. If there are problems, speak up and admit them. If they are solvable, or of true importance, come up with solutions. If not, emulate the Scarlett O’Hara-school-of-crisis-management and “think about it tomorrow,” or drop it altogether. In happy relationships, at least one partner is good at differentiating little from big.

4. Beating the Blues

Practice imperfection. Excellence is a great goal, but it is one you are less likely to achieve if you are attempting to be perfect. Choose some areas to just be adequate — package wrapping, thank you notes, returning all calls, for example. Life is more livable if you don’t try to be good at everything. Set daily and weekly priorities and regularly ask yourself if you are currently doing what matters to you.

Laugh a lot. If you don’t have a ready supply of humor in your life, buy some. Go to a comedy show, read amusing books, tapes, slogans, and posters. Then share what’s funny with others. Laughter is infectious, lifting the spirit and clearing the mind.

Smile. If you don’t do this a lot, practice on small mammals and furniture. Add people you know. Proceed to people you don’t know.

Reduce expectations. Double the time you give yourself (and others) for tasks. Forgive mistakes regularly and rapidly.

5. Push Positive Buttons

Get perspective on depression. Much of it is circumstantial. When the loved family pet dies, you’ve been cruelly rejected, or your best friend moves across the country, sadness needs to be felt and experienced, not bottled. Unexpressed feelings last longer, can get worse, and may come out much later in ways you could regret. Just don’t let it drag past a healthy limit and become your excuse for limiting your quality of life.

Be revealing to those you feel you want to know better and who are capable of understanding. Reveal yourself through stories of your childhood, teenage experiences, and current feelings. Answer honestly when caring people ask how you are or if they can help.

Use emotional intelligence with effective communication. Which sentences are more effective:

  • “When you yell, I can’t listen because I get scared and defensive” vs. “I hate it when you treat me like this.”
  • “Would you help me?” vs. “You never help me.”
  • “Thank you for taking out the trash” vs. “It’s about time you took out this mess.”

The first choices are open to connection. The second choices shut-down communication and doom you to getting less of what you are asking for in the future.

If you have been thinking about making some personal changes, now is the time to start.

We all have baggage. Please limit yours to one carry-on bag in good condition.

Click here for a complete list of all Dr. Janet Blair Page’s articles.
Dr. Janet Page is a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years in NYC and Atlanta, and taught for 22 years at Emory University. As the author of “Get Married This Year,” she speaks to audiences around the country about keeping love alive and finding your mate. Click here for more information on her “Get Married This Year” seminars.
One Comment
  1. Hoo, boy. I could answer all your advice with defensive negativity, but that would beat the purpose to a pulp, so I won’t.

    I will just use some highlights.

    1. Get rid of my “always hard to get along” friends.
    I don’t need to bother. I was the hardest-to-get-along friend of all my friends, and they preempted your advice. I can sit back and relax.

    2. “Gratuitous violence”. Well put. My friend (ex-friend; he showed his rejection of me by committing suicide. I am not kidding.) put it this way, in conversation: “America’s funniest gun-violence videos.”

    3. An Inka monkey-god gave me in a nocturnal visit an amulette that helps me emulate the Scarlett O’Hara-school-of-crisis-management and “think about it tomorrow,” so your advice is a bit late. Furthermore, this is a very long reply to create a lame pun. Guys, this is what you should NOT do on a date or any time before or after.

    4. Happiness is biology driven. You can’t be a “happy” person all the time, if you base your weltanschauung in part on evolutionary psychology. If you are christian, you still gotta have a go at it, but as an American, you are only guaranteed the freedom to pursue your happiness.

    In my analysis, it is true what you say, that “Happiness is an attainable state of mind”, but to stay truthful you must also say that this state of mind can’t be maintained on a level. It fluctuates, sometimes dips into sadness, anger, depression, and a wicked urge to throw rotten eggs at the tv when your team loses. “Happiness is an attainable state of mind” is a truism, a banner of what passes as a falsely deep insight, but to a lot of people this is still the epitome of wisdom and deep knowledge of people. Notice how Ph.D. psychologists usually surround themselves with the depressed and the imbecilical. The same people who like life, are into politics and show business. But most people are satisfied working for a living, having a relationship with their spouses, and watching their children grow.

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