As 2006 comes to an end, it's only natural to make a list of New Year's resolutions. At least one of the following is part of the list every year: lose weight, exercise more, give up a vice, spend time with loved ones, start a new hobby or find a "bashert." According to a recent JDate poll, some 44 percent of men and women chose "finding a soul mate" as their ideal resolution for 2007.
All of these resolutions are noble goals; however, they mostly focus on surface things. We're always trying to fix what's on the outside -- trying to lose weight, changing a hair color or searching for someone to hold our hand when we walk down the street. If we're finding that the same "outer" resolutions show up on our list every year, maybe it's time for a different kind of New Year's goal -- something that requires some introspection.
When people call or write me, they are often insistent about wanting to learn the perfect formula for meeting someone. They tell me they must be doing something wrong because they're now 35 and never married; 46 and divorced; or 70, widowed and lonely. They say they still "haven't found what they are looking for" and ask questions like, "Where are the single people my age?" "How can I meet someone?" and "What am I doing wrong?"
They also want to know if there's some magical location or solution to meeting someone. I often mention Jewish professional groups or events, but then I hear, "I've been there, and no one came up to me" or "Still no luck."
Although I've touched on this subject before, with 2007 now approaching, it's a great time for reflection and review.
It's time to fill your schedule with stimulating activities away from the bar scene. The more you become involved in the outside world, the more you increase your chances of meeting someone special. You must not limit your activities to places where there are only people of the opposite sex. A new friend of the same sex could always have a brother, sister or friend that may be perfect for you.
It's important to remember it's fine to look for that special person, but everyone you come across doesn't need to know that your decision to join a particular group was solely to find a man or woman. Your focus should be meeting new people who have similar interests.
You can make the time to get involved in activities you haven't pursued in previous years because they're fun and they enhance your life. The result can be a happier, more interesting you. And the bonus might be that you do meet someone. Just be careful what you say, because people have to get to know you as an individual before they can help you find a partner. It also could make a new friend or acquaintance feel alienated or irrelevant when your only stated goal is to find someone else.
Put yourself in a good place, where you feel comfortable and get to shine, so that people will be attracted to you. You'll have a better chance of connecting with others who have similar interests. For example, if you like politics, go to local meetings or volunteer to make phone calls.
If you've been meaning to volunteer at the Jewish Relief Agency or the Mitzvah Food Pantry, then go. If you play sports, check out a bike club or walking group. Go ice-skating for the afternoon (it's not your fault if you happen to "bump into" someone). Book-lovers can go to a library or cafe for signings and literary talks.
Grass Not Always Greener
People always say you'll find a boyfriend or girlfriend when you aren't looking, but really, when is a single person not looking? You always have in the back of your mind on a night out with friends that this might be the time you meet someone.
My advice is not only to keep attending these events, but to look inward. What would truly make you happy? What flaws need improving? How can you become a more humble person? How can you remain happy if you're single much longer than you ever expected?
We look at other people and say, "If I had a boyfriend like one of my friends, I'd be happy," or "If I had his job, I'd be happy."
But the grass is not always greener on the other side. It does no good simply to want what other people have; you've got to go out and find that for yourself.
If you're unhappy in your job or hate the city where you live, a significant other isn't going to change that. So don't waste time pouting. Invest energy to make the changes that will make you happy.
It's true that losing weight might make you feel better about yourself, however maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be the real goal. Your New Year's resolutions should be to learn to love and accept yourself, to work progressively to make changes toward improving yourself, and to learn to be happy with all that you have and have accomplished.
You cannot find happiness solely in another person, nor can you expect to become happy just because you have a significant other. You first have to be happy with yourself.
Nothing is more attractive than a person who exudes self-confidence. When you're content with your life, your work, your image, then you'll find that others will want to be around you.
Unlike what we see in the movies, in relationships, it's not about two halves making a whole by falling in love and completing each other. People grow by getting together, by learning about themselves -- first, as a single person, then as a couple. But it starts with you.
It's time to make a decision to change at least one thing about yourself. This year, what's it going to be?