Most of us spend a lot of time contemplating love. Unfortunately, most of our knowledge on how to do it comes from a few dubious sources: friends, family, and the occasional blockbuster romance (think The Notebook). While occasionally, you’ll stumble upon a good piece of advice, a lot of the stuff you’ll hear amounts to ways you can trick someone into liking you.
If you’re looking for love or a lasting romantic connection, tricks and deception aren’t going to cut it. The best advice is a banal platitude with a slight twist—be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. I know you’re thinking, Sure, sounds good, but that doesn’t mean anything, so let’s break it down into actionable steps that will help you catch the eye of the girl of your dreams.
1. Don’t change yourself, but do try.
To be in successful in love, you need a strong sense of self. That doesn’t mean you have everything figured out, but at least you’re working on it. Think of all the good people out there you wouldn’t date, because you have nothing in common. Naturally, nobody is compatible with everyone else.
When you’d dating, it’s important to be upfront about your values, passions, and pursuits, not say things or do things you don’t believe in so it seems like you’re compatible with someone. That said, do clean yourself up, do try to be charming, but don’t do so with the intention of tricking your love interest into an initial attraction that you’ll figure out later. It won’t work.
2. Focus less on the sex.
Many people obsess over sex: the last time they had it, the next time they can. Sex is important to a relationship, but it’s just one of many important components of a romantic connection. If you obsess over sex and make it your objective, you’ll fail to see the person you’re dating for who they are. Not to mention, people have a keen sense for when someone is only looking to use them for something. Focus on striking a connection. Usually, the rest falls in line.
3. Develop your non-dating life.
You should be doing this regardless, but it will also help you out while dating. People love people who are passionate about their lives. You can bet you’ll be dating better when your career improves, you practice hobbies, and have an active social life. All of these are markers of success and stability. Nobody has everything sorted out, but living a life you’re excited about will attract high quality peopleu, not to mention make you happier on overall.
4. Improve your physical health.
People underestimate the importance of physical health in overall life happiness, not to mention dating. Start by fixing your diet and exercising regularly. You’ll notice improvements in your mood and the way your body feels almost immediately. I’m absolutely not advocating striving to look like a magazine cover model, but you should strive to attain a healthy amount of muscle mass. The improvement to your psyche is guaranteed to help you in your dating life already, but a decent physique doesn’t hurt either.
5. Get to therapy.
This tidbit isn’t because I think there’s something gravely wrong with you. I recommend therapy to absolutely everyone, because we all have things that we’re dealing with, and a therapist is the only person who is trained to help you through whatever those issues may be. Also, sometimes it’s nice to just have someone you can air your trash to.
Additionally, if you have difficulty communicating or grappling with your emotions, a therapist can help you develop these skills. These are skills that will both improve your relationship with yourself and others you come into contact with, which includes people you date.
6. Share yourself.
All of the other items on this list build to this one. If you want to make a meaningful connection with someone you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be able to tell someone that you like them and risk rejection, you have to be able to say when you’re scared, when you’re excited, and you’ll have to be able to talk about things going on in your life. You need to share the full picture of your life, because life is more than the pretty picture we create while we’re dating. Often, we’re not educated on good tools for emotional expression, which leads a lot of people to bottle up their emotions.But that’s not how you make a deep connection.
7. Break the rules
In life and in romance, people will always try to give you rules to live by. Many of those rules may be good guidelines, but life is full of unique situations and people. It’s up to you to judge what course of action is right or wrong in any given situation with any given person. If you feel your date deserves to know about your ex, well, then share that. If you feel it’s right to talk about your relationship expectations on the first date, that can be valid too. This is one of the more nuanced skills on this list, and you’re only going to figure it out by practicing it.
When you’re dating remember that you’re meeting a person, who’s just as complex, deep, and important as you. It’s sound silly to have to say something so obvious, but it’s easy to forget, especially when you’re certain you know what you’re looking for. We’re all diamonds in the rough that could use a bit of tender love and care. Do good by yourself and the people you date, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.