Finding 'The One' in 2012

A new year brings new hope so: 'Set your standards high, be patient, be disciplined. And when the right one comes along you will know and you will be available to leap and make it work,' says John Aiken. Photo / Thinkstock
A new year brings new hope so: 'Set your standards high, be patient, be disciplined. And when the right one comes along you will know and you will be available to leap and make it work,' says John Aiken. Photo / Thinkstock

Finding "the one" in 2012 is not about abandoning yourself to fairytale notions of romance.

Relationship expert and author of Accidentally Single, John Aiken says if you're dating, 2012 gives you another chance to get it right.

"Set your standards high, be patient, be disciplined. And when the right one comes along you will know and you will be available to leap and make it work," he says.

But you've got to do your homework to be clear about what you want and why it hasn't worked in the past, and what are your deal breakers. You've got to be ready both physically and emotionally, he says.

"First thing you want to do is to essentially make a pact with yourself to do things differently, that means breaking old habits, and essentially avoiding patterns that keep you single," Aiken says.

Be prepared to be tough on yourself. Just think of it as a dating bootcamp.

"People are single not because they're too picky, (but) because they're not picky enough - and they end up spending all their time with the wrong ones, trying to change them into the right ones and it doesn't work," warns Aiken, who was single for two years before he found his wife.

He suggests taking some time over the new year break to really understand what you want, what you don't want and where you're headed.

Why the last one didn't stack up

One of the best places to start is to look back on previous relationships or any dating experiences over the year that haven't worked out.

Dissect them, says Aiken and ask, "What was wrong with that person, what were the warning signs that I'm going to avoid, moving forward?"

Did they, or you, possibly drink too much or cheat?

Did either of you work long hours, have financial problems or find it hard to commit?

Did you put each other down, let mum intrude on your lives or talk about your feelings too soon?

Was your partner constantly running late or were too clingy?

Who is your perfect partner?

Having figured out what's gone wrong, and who you're going to avoid, now picture the qualities and characteristics you're looking for in the right partner.

Would you like someone with a good sense of humour or social skills?

Is their career important, or how they get on with your friends and family?

Or is it their approach to sex and intimacy or their attitude to starting a family that is most desirable?

What are your deal breakers?

Keep up the homework and list the deal breakers, such as the following, that you would absolutely not embrace in a relationship:

* Smoking

* Excess drinking

* No interest in having children

* Wrong religion

* Infidelity

* Anger issues

* Previously divorced

Aiken is adamant about not compromising on your deal breakers, even if you feel you're not making progress and your friends are putting pressure on you.

"If there are warning signs, pay attention to them," he cautions.

"If you go into a relationship thinking things are not quite right, don't waste your time. You've got to move on. You've got to be disciplined.

"The problems are not going to change and you'll find that down the track you'll be in a lonely, loveless relationship."

Obliterating obstacles

So now we know what we want and what we don't want in a relationship. But sometimes when we find the "right" one, we're very good at ensuring we muck it all up.

Unconsciously we can sabotage our best efforts, we self-protect, sometimes to cushion ourselves from pain.

But rather than worrying about why we put up these obstacles unknowingly to hold us back, Aiken says we need to focus on how to do it differently. And that starts with turning on a positive mindset.

"It's a number game," says Aiken. "It's all about sorting through the bad to get to the good. It's not personal, it's not about rejection, it's a process of elimination.

"It's a bit like trying on shoes. If they don't fit, you put them back, and if there's nothing in the store, you go to the next one.

"With that sort of mindset you've got some resilience, you're not getting knocked off your horse all the time.

"You've got the ability to say, 'OK this one didn't fit'. But there are plenty out there that will, so that's very important."

The other thing about this positive mindset is that you have to get good at saying "no", so you don't waste your time with the wrong partners.

"You've got to be disciplined and when you realise they're not right, you see warning signs, you cut it and move to the next.

"2012 is about putting the standards up high - just make sure that you don't drop them."

John Aiken's dating tips

* Use close friends to build you up and provide support for you during your quest

* Get an appearance makeover - go through your wardrobe, toss out things that don't suit you, get to the hairdresser, really feel good about yourself

* Get a full health check-up - and that includes your sexual health

* Be open to all new dating experiences - whether it's online dating, a blind date, or a matchmaking agency

* Let go of the past - you don't want to get back into dating in 2012 if you're still hung up on your ex

* Avoid sending mixed messages when you do meet someone - ring when you say you will, pick them up when you say you will - and don't play games

* Be honest and go after what you want - don't be afraid, you're allowed to meet your needs

* Ask your date questions about their life - people love talking about themselves

* Use their name

* Look them in the eye

* Don't use your mobile phone, or interrupt them by checking messages

* Give them your undivided attention

* Don't stand in their personal space

* Don't touch them, not early on in the piece anyway

* Don't have sex in the first four weeks - you've got to know if you've got a player or a stayer and when you limit sex, the players will disappear

- AAP

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