It’s the question we’re all seeking the answer to: how can we feel more fulfilled? While you may be working on feeling happier in your career and maybe even improving your mental health, fulfillment in your love life is a whole other story, because it involves other people. But if you think about it, the point of finding a partner or maintaining a relationship is to make you happy. Whether you’re single, dating, swiping left more than right on Tinder, or married with kids, if you’re not feeling fulfilled in your love life, it’s time to make some changes.
1. Be open to change
When it comes to your love life, change should be the one thing you can always count on. If you’re single and dating, expect periods with fewer dates or meeting less people. If you’re in a long-term relationship, your partner will (and should!) change, so be OK changing with them. Your relationship will change, too. From the honeymoon phase to becoming new parents to hard times and busy schedules, a long-term relationship goes through a lot of ups and downs. Look at change as if you get to experience new relationships through many stages of life, all with the same person.
2. Initiate communication
Say it with me now, ladies: vocalize what you want. Be assertive and don’t wait for anyone else to ask what you want. In your relationship, be vocal and open about your needs that are not being met. Let them know how you feel, AKA no more responding to “are you OK?” with “I’m fine” (you’re not fine). Let your partner know how you feel without being asked if you’re OK.
If you’re dating, don’t hope your date plans a romantic evening and judge them when it’s not up to your standard. Take matters into your own hands by saying, “I’ve been dying to try this fancy restaurant! Want to try it with me?” or “it’s so nice out! Want to have a picnic at the beach?” Oh yeah, and can we all just agree once and for all that you don’t have to wait for someone else to make the first move ever? Go get the cute bartender’s number and ask your Bumble match when they’re free.
3. Be choosy about who you spend your time with.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so be picky. If your friends do nothing but complain about dating or pick themselves apart, this mentality can get into your head and make dating feel scary and depressing instead of what it should be (fun!). If your work friends brag about the gifts their husbands give them and it makes you question your relationship, consider it an issue of comparison and not a sign that your significant other doesn’t love you. Surround yourself with people that share your values and are a positive influence on your (love) life.
4. Do things you love
It’s easy to get into a routine of meeting your Bumble matches for a drink at the bar or staying in and watching Netflix with your significant other, but why not spend your date nights doing something you love? Invite your potential love interest to a cooking class, indoor skydiving, hot yoga, or to go browsing through a bookstore. You’ll come off much more exciting and interesting than the average “let’s meet up for a drink,” but more importantly, you’ll have a better understanding of whether or not it’s a good match (and have fun even if it’s not).
5. Be curious about other people
Do you ever feel so focused on impressing your date that you don’t even think about whether or not they’ve impressed you? Or maybe you care more about getting your point across in disagreements with your partner than you care about understanding their point of view?
Here’s my biggest life hack: care about what other people have to say. Enjoy listening to different perspectives and stories, empathizing much more than you talk. You’ll start to enjoy getting to know other people, whether or not they turn into anything, and your relationships (with friends, family members, and significant other) will drastically improve.
6. Put down the phone
PSA to people everywhere: life is what happens while you’re busy scrolling through Instagram and sending iMessages. Not only will phone-free time improve the connection with your partner (and keep the spark alive), but you’ll enjoy meeting other people as well.
Whenever I go to a busy restaurant, I always find that the liveliest tables are the ones where no phones are in sight. These people will stay longer, eat slower, and look happier because they’re sharing stories, making memories, and building connections. Put your phone away and focus all of your attention on the person you’re with.
7. Be your truest self
It’s the most clichéd cliché of all time (“be yourself!”), but it’s easier said than done. Dating is vulnerable and requires you to open yourself up to rejection, so you might focus more on being likable than being yourself. However, not being your truest self is a waste of time and is just unfulfilling.
If your date is turned off by the fact that you only watch trashy reality shows and talk louder than anyone else in the room, you’re figuring out right away whether or not you’re a good match. Trust me, one day you will meet someone who thinks your Vanderpump Rules obsession is endearing, and your lack of volume control is cute (I know from personal experience). You’ll be glad you weeded out the ones who are unworthy.
8. Become what you want to attract
Have you ever heard that cheesy saying, “your vibe attracts your tribe?” Well, cheesy it might be, but wrong it is not. If you’re feeling as hopeless as Charlotte was when she exclaimed, “I’ve been dating since I was 15, and I’m exhausted. Where is he!?” on Sex and the City, become who you want to find. If you want someone spontaneous, be more spontaneous. If you want someone who likes to read, spend more time in bookstores and reread your favorite classics.
The same goes for those of you in relationships. For example, if you want your partner to be more romantic, be more romantic to them. Work on being better for your partner and they will subconsciously want to be better for you.
9. Prioritize yourself (and your alone time)
Yes, this is an article about your love life, but if love for yourself doesn’t come first, you can’t truly feel fulfilled. Whether you’ve been married for years or are single and ready to mingle, prioritize your dreams, desires, and self-love. Continue to develop yourself as an individual, no matter who comes in and out of your life, and find your purpose as much as you encourage your partner to find theirs. Never lose who you are in a relationship, and feel happy for the alone time you get while being single.