New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life

Many of us make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year, but how many of us actually end up turning them in action, let alone achieve them? Now that we’ve had some time to get over New Year’s Eve festivities, reflecting on 2013, what were your best and worst moments of the past year? If you made resolutions last year, did you come close to achieving any of them? I managed to achieve 5.5 out of 7 of my resolutions, but I didn’t read nearly enough books as I’d hoped, and I lost some excess weight, but not nearly as much as I’d set as a goal. Starting and maintaining this blog was one of my resolutions last year and I’m looking forward to continuing and expanding it this year. It now has its own web address, too: findkeeplove.com.

Thinking about what we might like to achieve in 2014, let’s look at the resolutions you might have made. Many resolutions are made without serious intent and are too vague to actually achieve: “lose weight,” “find love,” “be happier,” and so on. Making resolutions for the right reasons and that are achievable give you a goal to aim at throughout the year, something to look forward to, a personal challenge, and/or a new start. We feel better about ourselves when we set personal goals, no matter how small, and then end up accomplishing them.

So how can we set realistic New Year resolutions and set out to achieve them? First, don’t think of a resolution as something silly you make up on New Year’s Eve, but as you would any other goal or challenge you might make on any other day of the year. If you have trouble taking a “New Year resolution” seriously, call it something else, like “Goals for 2014.” Then follow these simple steps:

1. Pick the right resolution(s)

Think about what you really want to achieve this year and how you will benefit from it.

2. Set an achievable goal

Unrealistic goals are doomed to fail and a goal is more achievable if you can quantify it in terms of numbers.

3. Set a time line for the goal

and if possible, break the goal up into steps. This helps you review your progress against tangible performance metrics. A resolution made without thinking of the steps necessary to achieve that resolution will most likely fail. If you want to lose weight, for example, try “exercise for 30 minutes a day,” “replace crisps/chocolate with a piece of fruit,” and so on, in order to lose weight (e.g., lose x kilograms).

4. Review your progress towards the goal

This helps you stay on track… and remember to try as hard as possible not to move the goalposts, but also remain somewhat flexible – at the end of the day, you are only letting yourself down, but you are the main influencer of your own happiness! At the end of January, review the progress towards your goals and see how you’re going.

5. Achieve your challenge

… or part of it. Even if you don’t complete 100% of the original goal, you may have learnt a thing or two along the way. And there’s always a chance to make new resolutions in a year’s time.

Making New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life – For Singles

For singles looking to find love, perhaps you can set yourself the goal of one activity a month that allows you to meet someone new. This might be joining new club, group or organisation related to something that interests you or something you’ve wanted to try. One place you can start looking is Meetup. It’s always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself from time to time. You can use these activities as an opportunity of assessing others’ suitability as a partner (subtly, of course).

If you’re serious about finding love this year, you’ll want to have a look at Find Keep Love’s three step program to finding love:

If you want to try online dating, sign up to a dating website or two and start creating a profile. You’ll might also like to check out our series of posts on online dating:

Making New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life – For Couples

For couples, you can set goals individually or together. As an individual goal, for example, resolve to do a random nice thing for your partner once a month (or once a week if you’re feeling overly ambitious) or to take your partner out for a proper romantic date once a month. Find Keep Love’s post on 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner addresses this topic and will point you in the right direction. You could also aim to pay your loved one a compliment a day for the entirety of 2014. 365 compliments will gain you some serious love points, and you’ll form good habits to strengthen your relationship.

You can also set goals together – to learn something new by taking a course together (a new language or a cooking course perhaps) or to go on a romantic getaway once or twice this year. Resolve to spend more quality time together, particularly if work or family life gets in the way. Our posts on Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates, Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts and The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last discuss some of the common issues with modern relationships and some ways to overcome them. You may also find some inspiration from our two-part post on the 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love and on the 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – you’ll want to aim to do more of the former and less of the latter.

What are your New Year resolutions? What steps will you take to achieve them?

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Myths About Love And Finding A Partner

In this post, Find Keep Love investigates a few of the misconceptions people have and myths about love and finding a partner.

There is only one true love… I’m a firm believer in “there are plenty more fish in the sea.” After all, there are over seven billion people on the planet and about half of them are of the sex you’re looking for (or even more if you’re bisexual). Even if you narrow it down to your particular age group and those who are unattached and looking, that still leaves millions of potential partners. If you know what you want (Find Love. Step 2. Know Yourself) and have a certain level of standards, this certainly narrows down your choices, but it also ensures you look in the right places. Often we end up with the kind of partner who fits our expectations.

There are also a number of theories on mate selection, including Parental Image Theory (Freud proposed that a child forms a deep attachment to their parent of opposite sex, and chooses someone similar to them as a mate), Homogamy Theory (based on ‘like attracts like,’ i.e., people choose mates based on similarities they find in each other), Propinquity Theory (two people who spend a lot of time together in close proximity are likely to develop a close relationship), and Complementary Need Theory (Winch proposed that a person seeks a partner who complements his/her own personality, i.e., a partner who complements their own weaknesses).

Every day is rosy and lovely (and only couples in bad relationships argue)… all couples have disagreements and arguments, especially when living together in close proximity and dealing with joint finances, looking after and raising children, and so on. It is not so much your disagreements and arguments that define you as a couple, but the way in which you deal with them together. When (not if!) these disagreements or arguments occur, deal with them appropriately like adults, and not in public or involving others. Be honest with your feelings and respect each other’s needs, wants and opinions. It is often said that couples who argue together last longer together and form stronger bonds together than couples who do not argue very often. A relationship based on mutual respect, honesty and trust will survive many disagreements and arguments, but it is a difficult skill to be able to accept and embrace disagreement.

An amazing sex life lasts forever… Seeing the daily habits of your partner, and seeing them at their worst (the bad breath and other smells, bed hair, grooming and toilet habits, mood swings, and so on), does have an effect on how sexy they appear and how much lust we feel towards them. In the initial stages of dating, you generally only see their good side. Living together changes your viewpoint dramatically – you see your partner in ‘lazy mode’, experience their toilet habits, and smell their morning breath. This is life, after all, but it doesn’t do much for our sex lives! Every now and then, you should both get dressed up, meet up separately (say after work) and treat things like a first date again – it might just be the spark you need to rejuvenate things and keep that lustful flame burning. Try surprising your partner with one of Find Keep Love’s 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner. For some more related tips to maintain a healthy relationship, check out Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates and Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts.

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7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 1

Every long term relationship has its ups and downs, and how we deal with difficulties in a relationship defines us as people and defines the partnership. In the next two posts, we’ll look at seven deadly relationship sins, how to recognise them, and most importantly, how to avoid them ruining your relationship.

1. Lack of communication

Lack of communication is something that one or both partners will complain about at some stage of a long term relationship and it is one of the biggest relationship killers. It can manifest itself in a number of different ways, including:

a) Not listening to your partner – one of the biggest complaints between partners and something couples therapists make a ton of money from. Learn to read the body language of your partner and gauge whether something is important to them. Properly, actively listening to your partner is one way of showing that you respect them, support them and are interested in them.

b) Not communicating feelings – your fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities, issues, and problems. People do change with time and without periodically updating your partner on your thoughts, feelings and interested, you can naturally drift apart (see The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last). Even small issues, like for example a man leaving the toilet seat up over and over again, can build up to resentment over time and injure your relationship.

c) Keeping secrets – a cornerstone of a healthy and strong relationship is trust (see 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2), but keeping secrets and having your partner find out can make them feel untrusted and question your own trustworthiness. To build trust in your relationship, check out our post on 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy And More Trusting.

2. Physical or emotional cheating

Cheating doesn’t always have to be physical, and you can do just as much damage to a relationship, if not more, by emotionally cheating. Temptation is all around us, and with the development of the internet, smartphones and other technologies connecting us with people all around the world, there are more and more opportunities to cheat. A fling with someone else – or even mutually entertaining the thought of it – may make you feel wanted or loved (or at least lusted after), but it is masking a void or deficiency in your own relationship that you need to address. In addition, the definition of acceptable behaviour when around others outside the relationship can differ from person to person and couple to couple. Think about the things you might say or write to others, or your body language, in the context of your own partner and your own relationship. How would you feel if your partner said or did similar things to another person? When does harmless, friendly flirting become something more?

3. Jealousy

A little jealousy can be good and healthy in a relationship – it can promote protectiveness and competitiveness to care and protect both your partner and relationship from the perceived threat. It can remind you of your feelings for your partner, and it can help you to think about and understand yourself a little better. In this way, healthy jealousy acts to guard and support a relationship. But too much, too often can be a deadly relationship killer. Overly jealous people see the world through a distorted lens, losing perspective and perceiving danger where there might not be. Jealousy is a highly complex emotion and can be incredibly powerful, causing us to lose control. Jealousy can be caused by insecurity and possessiveness. It can also be caused by a fear of rejection, abandonment or loss, and it can be triggered by feelings of powerlessness or a lack of control. Overcoming jealousy isn’t an easy task, but you can start by learning to love yourself (see Part 1: Find Love. Step 1. Love Yourself) to develop self-love and self-worth, creating a healthy relationship within us. This develops self-esteem and creates a healthy ego, allowing us develop healthy and productive interpersonal relationships with others. Building trust can strengthen your relationship and help overcome jealousy.

Be sure to check out the second part of this post, 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 2, which examines the other four deadly relationship sins. And don’t forget to read 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1 and Part 2.

The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last

The roles of men and women have changed in Western society over the past few decades and it’s now estimated that up to a half of all marriages end in divorce. Why has this happened? Are people more immoral than they used to be? Are modern couples not as strong-willed as ones in the past? No, divorce rates are now higher because the laws have changed, the stigma attached to a being a divorcée has been reduced, and society has placed a higher premium on individual rights. We all have a greater awareness of the fragility of life and that life really is too short to be unhappy and stick in situations that are no good for our mental and/or physical well-being. People are realising the importance of individual happiness against sticking together for some other reason (because they “said till death do us part” or to do so “for the kids” and so on) and enduring a life of unhappiness. An interesting post on the reasons for divorce can be found here, but in this post I’ll be discussing relationships that didn’t break down due to infidelity, a traumatic, life-changing or significantly stressful event, domestic violence or addiction(s).

There aren’t too many couples who aren’t madly in love when they first get married (with the exception being arranged marriages), so how does a relationship end up in such a state? People do change with time – not just physically, but their personality, likes and dislikes, and even beliefs. Think about the person you were five years ago, or even a year ago, and how much you have changed since then. The pace of modern life means these changes occur at a faster rate than ever before. If you don’t keep up to date with your partner’s thoughts, feelings and activities, you may end up loving the person they once were, and not who they’re becoming (and then feeling like you don’t know them anymore). This is one reason why couples ‘drift apart’ or feel like they ‘don’t know each other anymore,’ but is this because the relationship hasn’t been maintained properly? By maintaining your relationship (see our post on Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts) and by keeping the love strong by doing an occasional nice thing (see 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner), your love for your partner will change dynamically with time and be continually refreshed.

Perhaps the relationship just wasn’t meant to be? People – friends, as well as lovers – come into our lives to help form new chapters of our lives, some can be brief (a seasonal love), others longer, but there are some gems that last a lifetime. Sometimes we misjudge relationships – we can hang onto the wrong person, trying as we might to make things work, or we can give up the right person prematurely. It is incredibly rare for two people to find themselves exactly on the same page.

Or perhaps you weren’t being honest from the very start? Perhaps your partner fell in love with the person you portrayed to win their affection, and not your true self. Being yourself from the outset can avoid this later on. The longer you date someone, the harder it is to fake who you really are. As someone who’s been there before, and told a white lie or two to gain someone’s interest – in the early stages of dating, meeting someone say once a week or month, you can almost be anyone you like. This reminds me of the movie There’s Something About Mary, where each of the guys vying for Mary’s attention create their own fake persona to win her over.

The proliferation of romantic movies, including romantic comedies, can also share the blame as many of these give a false sense of hope and aren’t treated as merely a form of escapism. Treating them as realistic can give unrealistic expectations of your partner and your relationship, particularly when times are tough in a relationship and the parties involved think a quick and amicable solution can be reached immediately. Hardly ever are the normal, everyday parts of the relationship portrayed in a 90 minute movie (well, it wouldn’t sell movie tickets, would it?). This topic is also covered in Romantic comedies make us ‘unrealistic about relationships’, claim scientists and Romantic Comedies Are Ruining Real Life Relationships. However, there are a few movies that do keep it real – It’s Complicated, The Change-Up (except for the switching bodies part), This Is 40, Crazy Stupid Love, and the latest release, I Give It A Year, which looks at the trials and tribulations of a newlywed couple during their first year of marriage. The trailers for these movies can be found at the end of this post.

There are also scientific explanations for why feelings seem to change with time and why we shouldn’t panic when they do, but I’ll save that discussion for another day… stay tuned for Scientific Explanations For Love (And Why Hearts Seem To Change).

Why do you think couples drift apart? If you’ve been in a long-term relationship before, did something cause your relationship to break down?

Realistic Rom Com #1: It’s Complicated

Realistic Rom Com #2: The Change-Up

Realistic Rom Com #3: This Is 40

Realistic Rom Com #4: Crazy Stupid Love

Realistic Rom Com #5: I Give It A Year

6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2

In the previous post 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1, we examined the first three of six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. In this post, we examine the second three of six secrets, and summarise what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

4. Show affection & intimacy

It is important to show your love in the form of affection and intimacy. As life goes by, and we become more comfortable in our relationship, we often forget to not only show our gratitude, but to express our feelings and attraction physically. The ‘good feeling’ chemicals in the brain (we’ll address the science behind love in another post) that made us so excited at the beginning of the relationship start to wear off with time and I’m sure there aren’t many longer term relationships that are as physically involved (read sexual) as they were in the first few months. The good thing is that if you’re a couple in this position, you’re not alone! The bad thing is that affection and intimacy requires a little more effort and motivation than before. Dating someone once or twice a week or month is very different to seeing each other every day and seeing their ‘ugly’ side (the morning breath and other bad smells, the bed hair, no make-up, and so on). But it doesn’t have to be too hard – be spontaneous, grab your partner and kiss them occasionally, be playful, have fun doing silly things together, hold hands, hop in the shower or bath together – but maintain some form of physical contact that keeps your love alive.

5. Maintain individuality (“us” time vs. “me” time)

It is essential to maintain a bond of togetherness with your partner with mutual interests. Going on dates together is important (and scheduling them if you’re busy people) and ensuring adequate “us” time, to learn and grow together. But giving your partner freedom to explore their own life is also critically important, by letting your partner have their own friends, their own hobbies and interests, their own “me” time. A relationship is a partnership in love and a journey through life together, but one should never lose their own individuality. The longer you spend with someone in a relationship, the more your lives become intertwined, which can leave you feeling dependent on your partner and depended on, upsetting your emotional balance and making you feel trapped and restricted. Think of the relationship as two individuals joined together by love on a journey towards a common goal (or goals). As Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “Love is not looking at each other, but looking together in the same direction.” You should both be able to do your own thing with or without others, without the other being jealous or thinking that they don’t love or enjoy spending time with them.

6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

All successful relationships are based on a healthy level of trust for without trust a relationship will not survive. Trust is a two-way street: you must have the correct combination of one partner being trustworthy and the other being trusting. A relationship just won’t last if one is trustworthy and the other untrusting, or one is trusting and the other untrustworthy. Trust is one of the most precious commodities in a relationship and is far easier to lose than to gain. It is earned over time and is built on integrity and confidence in another. Think about you and your personal relationships – do you think you are considered a trustworthy person? Do you have trouble trusting others? If you’re having trouble with trust in your relationship, you’ll want to read our post on 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy and More Trusting.

Practising these six things – along with the suggestions in Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates and Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts – will ensure you and you partner are well on your way to a happy and successful long term relationship. In summary:

1. Show your gratitude
2. Encourage your partner
3. Tolerate their flaws & habits
4. Show affection & intimacy
5. Maintain individuality
6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?

6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1

As discussed in the post Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts, all relationships should be maintained to keep them fresh and mutually beneficial. Modern times are busier and more unpredictable than ever and sometimes relationships can suffer as life flies by (see Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates). In the next two posts, we’ll examine six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. Are you doing the right things in your relationship?

1. Show your gratitude

Be gracious for the things your partner does for you and never take anything for granted. Appreciate even the small things. As a thought experiment, imagine waking up tomorrow and not having your partner there. How would you feel? Think about the things your partner does for you or provides for you and your relationship. What would you miss? If you appreciate them, a few words of thanks go a long way. Tell them – or better still, show them – how you feel. For tips on how to do this, have a look at 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner. This is also a good opportunity to thank other loved ones in your life: your friends and family. Too many people leave it until the last minute – or until it’s too late – to tell the special people in their life that they are appreciated, and regrets like these can last a lifetime. It can be awkward at first – many of us are not confident or comfortable expressing our feelings – but start with something simple (thanks for a meal, for example) and work your way up to feelings of more substance.

2. Encourage your partner

Encourage your partner’s pursuits, hobbies or interests: the things that make your partner happy. As long as their interest does not harm others (or themselves), and keeps them happy/amused/sane, then you should proactively support their pursuit of happiness. Make them feel supported, and help them maintain their own individuality (see Maintain individuality in Part 2). We should all encourage each other to pursue happiness in our own unique way, express ourselves, and enjoy the journey of life, which can be harsh and challenging. Feeling supported and encouraged makes us feel safe, loved and important – no matter what life throws at us.

3. Tolerate their flaws & habits

You must be able to tolerate character flaws and bad habits – everyone has them, this is part of human nature (again, as long as these aren’t harming them or others). I had an ex-cricket team-mate who couldn’t be around his wife when she made a cup of tea or coffee because the rattle the spoon made when stirring her tea irritated him so much. This is something I’d suggest to tolerate. Guys, for example (in general), have a lower standard for cleanliness and organisation than girls do. We must tolerate and understand that these small differences exist. I, personally, have learnt to leave the toilet seat down. The benefits of doing so outweigh the effort required to put the seat back down after I’m done. With tolerating behaviour, remember the saying “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff“. Think about the things you and your partner might argue about – are they really that important? For the bigger issues – these can be financial, job- or career-related, or to do with another interpersonal relationship – it is important that you communicate with your partner about the issue. The smaller issues – dirty clothes on the floor, leaving things in what you deem to be their ‘incorrect’ location – can be sorted out with some compromise from both sides. For the perpetrator, can you make a slight modification in the habits or behaviour that annoys your partner without too much effort? For the annoyed party, can you see past and accept your partner’s ‘misbehaviour’?

Be sure to read the second part of this post, 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2, which examines the second three of six secrets, and summarises what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?

Dating Someone Similar Or Different – Opposites Attract?

In the last two posts in Part 1: Find Love, we saw that the first step to finding love is loving yourself (Love Yourself) and then looked at how to perform a self diagnosis to find out who you are and what you really want from a relationship/partner (Know Yourself & What You Really Want From A Partner). Following the same theme, in this post, we’ll look at dating someone similar to you in comparison to dating someone different to you and touch on the core foundation of successful relationships: the keys to long-term love.

If you happened to try out the previous self assessment task, you would have compared the characteristics that define you with the characteristics of your ideal partner. How many of these were similar? How many were different? There are a number of pros and cons for dating someone similar to you versus someone different to you. For starters, the former allows you to stay in your comfort zone, making you feel safe and balanced, whereas the latter might take you out of your comfort zone, which can be scary and make us feel vulnerable.

On the other hand, dating someone similar might see you fall into a rut of doing the same old things over and over again (making it harder to avoid falling into a relationship rut), but you can always do new things together (travel, take a class or course, explore new foods, and so on). However, with someone different, you could be trying and learning new things, and expanding your experiences and knowledge. They could provide a fresh and invigorating perspective on life (or at least show you that that particular thing is not right for you!), but it might mean more work and effort to get the same level of enjoyment out of the relationship.

I have friends and colleagues in long-term relationships at both ends of this spectrum, and I’ve seen that either of these can work well. We’re often advised by others that we should look for someone similar to ourselves, but there’s also the old adage that “opposites attract.” Sometimes opposites really do attract (and particularly when going on those first few dates, someone different can offer interesting conversation and new, exciting perspectives on life), but for long-term success with someone even moderately different, you must like or at least tolerate your potential mate’s differences – whether these are their beliefs, ideas, interests, activities, and so on.

This leads us to one of the keys to a successful long-term relationship: the sharing of common beliefs, goals or worldly ideas. This is hugely important, and can cover topics such as religion (or lack thereof), life/career goals, views on male-female roles/equality, marriage, morals, and so on. An additional factor that can play a role in successful relationships is that both partners have a similar level of experience (love/relationships, sex, life experience in general, etc.). Although perhaps it is not the level of experience itself that is critical, as this has happened in the past and cannot be changed, but the stage at which each partner is at in each of these areas with a view to the future. Love may transcend differences in personality, interests, and life experiences, but most likely not the more critical ones listed here. Do you respect and value this person’s views and opinions, their career, and do you appreciate their hobbies and interests (even if you don’t enjoy them particularly yourself)? In the end, personalities that complement and balance a relationship, rather than those that are the same or polar opposites, give the best opportunity for long-term relationship success.

How do you feel about dating someone similar to you versus someone different? What do you think are the keys to a successful relationship?

In the next post of Part 1: Find Love, we explore the dos and don’ts of a first date (First Date Dos and Don’ts).