Being single and trying to date can be a brutal experience for many, so why make it harder for yourself by going in blind? If you don’t have a sense of who you are, what you want, or what kind of partner you are looking for, then frankly, you shouldn’t be dating. When you date without intention, you greatly increase your chances of getting hurt, hurting someone else, or falling into an unhealthy relationship.

Find Yourself First

There can be a lot of pressure on single people to continually be dating and looking for your “other half.” However, it’s incredibly important to just take some time for yourself. For starters, you shouldn’t be looking for your “other half.” You should be looking for someone who compliments yourself as an independent individual.

Don’t be afraid to take some time to find, build up, and fall in love with that whole person inside of you. It is especially important to take this time to get to know yourself again after a breakup so that you don’t end up jumping into another relationship when you aren’t emotionally ready for it.

Your value, worth, and happiness shouldn’t be dependent on other people because it makes you incredibly vulnerable, creates a fragile sense of self, and creates an unhealthy dynamic between yourself and others. Your happiness and value must come from within.

Establish Your Core Values

As you are taking some time to find yourself, you should also focus on establishing what your core values are. What makes you tick, keeps you going, and gives you purpose and direction in life? Do you value honesty? Hard work? Integrity?

Think about what kind of person you want to be. Take some time to ask yourself what you really value in life and write down your answers. Make sure to review those answers regularly.

Once you have established this base, it is much easier to build a happy and successful life. You will have an easier time making big decisions and will tend to be happier with those decisions. Once you know your core values, you can look for them in others and better choose people to establish relationships with.

Learn About Healthy Relationships

When you have established your core values and have a good idea of what you want and what you are looking for, it’s a good idea to then educate yourself on what a healthy relationship looks like. You should also learn to identify toxic and abusive behaviors and relationship dynamics. A healthy relationship is one with open and honest communication, respect, understanding, trust, compassion, and a willingness to connect and grow with your partner.

You should also understand that love alone won’t save a relationship. If you don’t have similar core values or want the same things in life, then the relationship will likely only end in heartbreak. As much as you may like someone, don’t ignore red flags and signs that you aren’t on the same page. It is better to be single than to stay with someone who you know, or suspect isn’t right for you or who is physically or emotionally abusive.

Be Honest and Authentic

“Once you have learned about yourself, what you want, and what a healthy relationship looks like, then you are finally ready to get out and start dating” says matchmaker Kelleher International.

All you need to remember is to be honest and authentic. Don’t try to hide who you are or impress others because you will just end up creating an unhealthy dynamic from the beginning. You should want someone who loves and accepts you for who you are, not for who you think they want you to be.

Learn to ask questions and be genuinely interested in their responses. Be clear and upfront about what you want and what you are looking for, and don’t be afraid to (gently and kindly) tell them if they aren’t it.

Reducing Pain

Dating and trying to find your ideal relationship can be challenging no matter how prepared you are. However, you can greatly reduce the pain and heartbreak by developing your sense of self, your values, and what you are looking for before diving into the dating world.

Once you are confident in yourself and know what you want, it is much easier to avoid bad relationships, incompatible people, and actually find a healthy and fulfilling relationship with the right person. Love and understand yourself first so that you can better love and understand others.