The holidays can be a challenging time of year. When I was married, I loved Christmas, and threw myself into the busyness and the festivities of the season wholeheartedly. Baking a thousand cookies and delivering them around town, spending three days decorating a 10 foot tree, throwing a party for 75 people, shopping to the point of exhaustion, writing the ‘Holiday Letter’, and making my own Christmas cards were things I actually enjoyed. But everything changed when my marriage started to fall apart. I wouldn’t say I’ve become a Scrooge, but my efforts at the holidays the last several years have definitely become half-hearted attempts at merry-making.

Most of the single people I know always seem to just ‘get through’ the season and say they are relieved when it comes to a close. We are assaulted with sappy, romantic, idealistic holiday movies, music, and marketing messages. Add to that too much sugar in our diets, and probably more alcohol than usual, and anyone can become overly sentimental and even a bit fragile at this time of year. In fact, some of us become flat out depressed, and would really like to just sleep through the entire season, even though we continue to go through the motions – perhaps a feeble attempt to keep ourselves from overdosing on spiked eggnog and Xanax. And on New Year’s, just one week later, we are reminded to reflect on all of the positive things that happened in the past year. But if you are haunted by ghosts of Christmases past spent with a loved one that you’ve lost, no matter what the cause, it is easy at this time of year to be swept away by a tidal wave of reminiscence, leading to feelings of loneliness and melancholy.  The next thing you know, you’re having Irish coffee for breakfast and eating soggy Christmas cookies.

So why not start out the New Year with some relationship resolutions? If you didn’t get what you wanted this year, maybe it’s going to take a little more than dropping ten pounds, or building bigger biceps at the gym, to attract the right partner. Just like your fitness routine, anything worth having takes effort. If you’re not willing to start with a little ‘self’ work, then you are probably not ready to do the work to create or sustain a healthy relationship with a love interest.

It’s easy to look back and miss what we no longer have, because we have a tendency to remember the good stuff (especially around the holidays).  A first step to moving forward is to do an autopsy on your last relationship. Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What were the qualities of your lover that you appreciated- that caused you to fall in love?
  2. What were the aspects of the relationship that you enjoyed and wish to experience again?
  3. What caused the death of the relationship?
  4. What were the deal breakers, those things you would never tolerate again in a future relationship?
  5. Was there anything you could have done differently that would have changed the course of your last relationship?
  6. Have you given yourself the proper amount of time to heal from any emotional pain you suffered in this last relationship?
  7. What have you learned about yourself from your last relationship? How have you grown?

Healing comes from recognition, acceptance, and processing our emotions. There is no greater growth opportunity than being in relationship with someone we love. So, how can one resolve to find the love they desire in their life? The definition of a resolution is:  1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination. 2. A resolving to do something. 3. A course of action determined or decided on.
Here are the steps to creating a New Year’s resolution for finding the love you want:

  1. Be clear about the type of person you wish to share your life or your time with.  Using the answers to questions #1 and 4 above, create a list of the qualities you are looking for in the person you would like to meet. What is important to you? Think about human qualities that you are attracted to, for example: ethics, honor, intellect, communication skills, honesty, sense of humor, to name a few.
  2. Know what you want to experience in a relationship. Using the answers to questions #2 and 7 above, make a list of what is important to you in a relationship. Are you looking for a long term commitment, or are you simply looking to start dating again with an open mind and heart to see where it goes? Do you want an open relationship? Will a long distance relationship work for you, or are you looking for more consistent companionship?
  3. Set an intention of how you want to feel in a relationship. Imagine what it would be like to be in the relationship you have defined in these lists. Do you wish to feel cherished, respected, valued? Then make a commitment to yourself to cherish, respect and value yourself, first. Know how to experience these feelings on your own, rather than looking for someone else ‘to fill you up’.
  4. Do your ‘self’work. Review your answers to questions #3, 5 and 6 from the autopsy. What have you learned from previous relationships, that you have control over in the future? Remember that we cannot control other people. We can only control our own perceptions and actions, which is why the first three steps in this list are so important.

We have a tendency to create more of what we focus on, and if you are still dwelling on what did not work in your last relationship, or harboring resentment or anger over it, it is likely that you will attract more of the same experience. Taking practical steps and making resolutions in regard to finding the love and companionship you desire is no different than any other type of resolution. Set the intention, and follow through by taking action, and the rewards will be well worth the effort.