It's a new year, so perhaps you’ll get that job, the credit card bill will shrink, and you’ll find a new partner who you can share your life with.
Well, I can’t do anything about the job or the bill, but as a relationship counsellor I can help you take a closer look at what a new relationship might look like.
What do you want - and what can you offer?
First off, let's consider where you are at now. Are you in a relationship that’s not working for you? Have you been on your own for a while and now feel it’s time to find someone?
And, just as importantly, what are you looking for? Is it rampant sex and that hypnotic rush - who cares if it all blows over? Or perhaps something that feels more like a cosy pair of slippers, that’s welcoming, comforting and you always know where to find? Maybe it’s a mixture of both.
But before you spring into action, give a few thoughts as to why your previous relationships may not have worked out as you’d hoped. This is always a good place to start when thinking about looking for a prospective partner. It’s funny how we tend to think about what we most want to get from a relationship rather than considering what we might have to offer and what others might find tricky about us.
If you’ve had lots of relationships, have you always been the one to end things? Do you find it difficult to be too close to someone else? Or perhaps you tend to find you run out of patience with their initially loveable little quirks and foibles, giving rise to a swift retreat.
Maybe you’re someone who has had few relationships, or nothing that you would class as one. If that’s the case, are you always waiting for the other person to make the first move? Are your "standards" of Olympian heights and impossible for anyone to meet? Let’s face it, having a few standards is always going to be a good idea but Relate counsellors all over the country see clients who long for someone special in their lives but repeatedly reject likely candidates because they never seem able to meet all their needs and desires.
The link to childhood
Sometimes this can be explained by what we learn about relationships as children.
Being truly loved by a parent or care giver is not the same as having every last wish granted, and its surprising how often these two get confused and make it difficult for us to recognise that partners have needs too.
Likewise if we haven’t always felt loved and cared for as a child, trusting someone to undertake that role in adult life can feel a step too far, so it’s just easier to end a new relationship (or even one that’s been around for a while) because the worry about being rejected first can feel very scary indeed.
Being the one to always do the rejecting can feel like a powerful place to be in, but this often leads to a sense of loss that can be difficult to bear.
Boosting your confidence
If you are single, consider whether you are definitely ready for a new relationship. It’ll be easier to attract a happy, confident partner if you are happy and confident in yourself, so give your self-esteem a little attention if it’s on the low side.
The Relate Guide to Finding Love is a book I’d recommend as contains a plan to help boost your self-esteem and attract the right partner. Coming to Relate for individual counselling may also be a good option, particularly for those struggling with self esteem and past relationships.
Looking elsewhere while in a relationship
If you’re currently with someone and not feeling hopeful about things, it may be an idea to explain exactly how you feel and what you think might need to change. It’s often the case that when we’re unhappy in a relationship it comes as quite a surprise to find that our partner is equally unhappy.
One of the most common issues in couple counselling is saying the say thing in the same way. This is inclined to make anyone stop listening. But often changing your approach; expressing how you feel in different ways and inviting a partner to do the same can work wonders in helping couples to find better means of resolving problems and general unhappiness. So, looking for someone new becomes a redundant issue.
But if you feel that the end is nigh, then being clear with a partner is usually a very good idea, unless of course you’re fearful of the consequences of taking that step in which case you should seek professional help to keep safe.
Love and sex news: in pictures
Love and sex news: in pictures
1/16 Spain appoints 'sex tsar'
Spain has appointed a ‘sex tsar’ to encourage the declining population to ramp up procreation in a bid to reverse a dip in the birth rate. The country reported a higher number of deaths than births for the first time last year, prompting the government to take action
2/16 A new dating show for Trump supporters
Across the pond, there’s a new TV dating show in the pipeline: one inspired by President Donald Trump. The dating site - whose tagline is ‘Making dating great again’ - launched in May 2016 and now has over 37,500 active users
3/16 How to spot when your partner is hiding their true feelings
How often do you and your partner actually spot when one of you is hiding your emotions? According to a new study, it’s probably not as frequently as you think. New research suggests that people miss cues that their partner may be suppressing negative feelings because we see our other-halves in a more positive light
4/16 Timetable of Love
A new study has revealed that Sunday at 9am is the most popular time of the week for Brits to get busy in the bedroom. Our weekends tend to be a lot sexier than our weekdays, with three of the top five most common times for sex falling on a Saturday, at 11.30am, 10.30pm and 11.30pm
5/16 Singletons judge potential partners on their phones, says new study
A new study has found that women are 92 per cent more likely than men to judge a potential partner negatively for having an older phone model.
6/16 Online dating risk
A new report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found that last year, singles were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and apps. Con artists are increasingly creating fake online profiles and tricking people on dating sites into handing over often large sums of money.
7/16 Sainsbury’s sells same sex valentine’s day cards for first time
For the first time, Sainsbury’s is selling a range of Valentine’s Day cards that represent same-sex couples. The simple designs feature illustrations of a woman and a woman, and a man and a man, with the caption ‘You + Me.’
8/16 Mother's blood pressure before conception could influence sex of child, study suggests
Pregnant woman measures the blood pressure with automatic sphygmomanometer.
9/16 Couples oversharing on social media do so to mask relationship insecurities, expert suggests
Couple sitting on couch with their phones in their hand
10/16 Injection of ‘romantic’ hormone could help treat psychosexual problems
11/16 One in ten British women experience pain during
12/16 Erectile dysfunction 'linked to risk of early death'
Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) are 70 per cent more likely to die early, a new study has found. US scientists believe that the disorder may be linked to poor cardiovascular health, and suggested that men with ED should be screened for health issues that could cut their lives short
13/16 Watching porn does not cause negative attitudes to women
The average porn user may have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users, a contentious new study has suggested. Researchers at Western University in Canada have even argued that many pornography fans might be “useful allies” in women’s struggles for equality in the workplace and in public office. They reported in the Journal of Sex Research that the 23 per cent of people who said they had watched an “X-rated” film during the previous year were no more or less likely to identify as feminists than those who did not watch porn.
14/16 The characteristics of men who pay for sex
Men who pay for sex share similar traits to rapists and sex offenders, according to new research. A study from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), claims that men who have sex with female sex workers feel less empathy for them than men who do not buy sex. Part of this reason is due to the fact that they view them as "intrinsically different from other women,” according to the authors.
15/16 Heartbreak can actually change the rhythm of your heart
Losing a loved one really can break your heart, research suggests, although not for ever. People who lose a partner are at an increased risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for the next 12 months, scientists found. The risk seems to be greatest among the under 60s and when the loss of the partner was least expected
16/16 'Weird' sexual fetishes are actually very normal
A number of sexual fetishes considered anomalous in psychiatry are actually common in the general population, a study has found. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), sexual interests fall into two categories: normal (normophilic) and anomalous (paraphilic). Researchers asked 1,040 Quebec residents, representative of the general population, about their experiences of sexual behaviour considered abnormal by the DSM-5. The study, published in The Journal of Sex Research, found that of the eight types of anomalous behaviour listed in the DSM-5, four were found to be neither rare or unusual among the experiences and desires reported by men and women
Let’s imagine that you’ve moved on and feel ready to fall in love. First off, don’t ignore what’s staring you in the face. We often miss opportunities for love because the person in front of us has maybe always been "just a friend".
Love isn’t always easy to spot. Taking a good look around and maybe then taking a chance on getting to know someone a bit better can reap handsome rewards. Of course internet dating offers mammoth opportunities and there are sites to cater for every taste.
However, more traditional methods such as meeting people through friends or through a shared interest shouldn’t be forgotten. And don’t be in a rush. While it’s true that some people instantly "know" they’ve found "the one", there’s nothing wrong with taking time to see what develops.
Finally, trust your instincts. If you think there’s something wrong, try and communicate this to give your partner a chance to understand what you’re worried about and explain their side of things. Communication is key, as well as being prepared to take a risk on something new: knowing that although it might not be exactly what you want, you’re both prepared to share enough with each other to see if things can get better.
So, throw caution to the wind – someone out there is waiting for you.
Ammanda Major is Senior Consultant on Sex Therapy at Relate. Relate offers counselling for couples but also for individuals, including people who are looking to find love.