Many of us are hoping that 2015 will be our year for love. Whether you’re hoping to meet the man of your dreams or just finally get things right in your current relationship, there are a handful of ways you can begin to prepare your heart. In my own relationship, I have found that you can make intentional decisions to set yourself up for success in your future romances. Here are a few guidelines that have helped me continually open up my heart to my boyfriend and build a stronger relationship.
1. Learn to love yourself.
My boyfriend is constantly saying that he wishes I could see myself the way he sees me. The reality is that my lack of self- love can often cause tension in our relationship. The stories and the sayings are true: you must learn how to love yourself before your heart will truly be ready to let anyone else in. With this self-love you will learn how to guard your heart and be more intentional with the people you let in. Start by taking a close look at where your heart is at right now, what weighs heavy on you, and what makes you feel most encouraged.
2. Go on real dates.
In today’s world, real dates seem to be a dying breed. Nowadays, both singles and those in a relationship have started settling with just “hanging out” rather than a proper date. We turn to our cellphones and computer screens for conversations. As Brittany discovered, if you want your heart to be ready for love, you have to be willing to open it up in real life. I will be the first to admit that even in my relationship, I am quick to choose Netflix over a true date night. Dates help to show your intention and commitment to getting to know the other person. So put on your favorite outfit and head out to that cute little café you’ve been dying to try for a good old-fashioned date night!
3. Foster friendships.
One of the most important, yet overlooked, components of building a healthy relationship is keeping close friends outside of your significant other. Surround yourself with friends and family that truly understand, respect, and want the best for you. Early on in our relationship, Matt and I made a point of introducing one another to all of the important people in our lives. This was actually a crucial step in opening ourselves up to one another, while also leaning on the people who knew us best to help us steer our relationship in a healthy way. Find your people and keep them close by as you embark on new love adventures.
4. Express your feelings.
Maybe you prefer to write it all down in a journal, on a blog for the world to see, or maybe you find music the greatest outlet for your emotions. Whatever it is, find a way to identify and express your feelings. This is quite possibly the most challenging but significant way you can open yourself up for love. The most intentional relationships are those that are able to engage with each other’s emotions. In order to prepare yourself for that kind of relationship, you have to start engaging with your own emotions regularly. This is a challenge I’m still working through every day, but slowly I am figuring out how to notice and tend to my feelings.
5. Show Love
By far the best way to get your heart ready for intentional love is to simply start showing love through your actions. Small bursts of love towards other will help condition you to give and receive love from others. During college, I started to make a point of finding ways that I could serve my friends and family. Most of the time showing people love can be the simplest act of kindness or moments of quality time. All of the loving on other people that I did during that time helped ready my heart to love Matt as my boyfriend. The greatest thing about showing love to others? You will start to feel the love and joy as well, creating a win-win for everyone involved.