“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it” —Edmund Burke
Let that quote sink in for a moment. While that may not have been written with relationships in mind, it totally applies. Often, we go into dating relationships year after year continuing to behave in the same ways and repeat the same patterns.
Whether it’s rushing into relationships, saying “yes” to the wrong ones, or simply not knowing enough about ourselves—many times, these patterns leave us with a lack of progress, feelings of frustration and shattered pieces to pick up along the way.
This is why our history is so important. Because if we don’t take the time to look back and learn, our past patterns and relationship history will continue to determine the kind of relationships we will choose to engage in our future.
For some of us, these patterns of relationships are a combination of ingrained and learned behaviors that aren’t always easy to identify and sometimes need the help of a professional. But for most of us, with a little bit of looking back combined with a little bit of planning ahead, we can really make some major changes in the area of relationships this coming year by doing just a few things differently:
Own Up to Your Baggage
The biggest game changer when it comes to our relationships has everything to do with ourselves—because you are the most influential person you will ever know.
We’re all human, and we enter relationships with fears, insecurities, flaws and weaknesses. Understanding your unique struggles and taking responsibility for them is the greatest thing you can do for your love life. As you own up to your baggage, continuing to bring it before the Lord in confession and for healing, you will inevitably impact the health and quality of your relationships in a really positive way.
The best thing you can do for any relationship is to leave as much of the baggage as you can at the door by learning the value of confession, healing and transformation.
Say No to One-Sided Relationships
Maybe you’ve found yourself stuck in a pattern of give-give-give, all the while receiving little to nothing from the other side.
One-sided relationships are draining, because they’re not what God meant for relationships. And behind every one-sided relationship is a person who is giving too much, but also expecting too little.
If you find yourself stuck in a one-sided relationships, it’s time to dig deep and ask yourself why. Why do you allow this kind of interaction to be a part of your life? Why don’t you believe you deserve better? What is it you’re afraid of?
At the end of all these questions, the truth is you have the power and the responsibility to teach people how they can or can’t treat you. This year, resolve to believe for God’s best by saying no to one-sided relationships.
Be Willing To Take Risks
One thing I’ve noticed when it comes to life choices—and relationships in particular—is that many of us are so afraid of making the wrong decision, we don’t make any decisions at all. We remain passive, because we’re driven by fear in so many things—fear of failure, fear of commitment, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of being alone.
But what if this year, we resolved to live out of faith instead of fear? Faith in a God who loves us and has our best interest in mind. Faith that when we are walking toward Him, He will guide us and lead us in the right direction. Faith to believe that God has empowered us with wisdom and courage to make good choices. And then faith to go ahead and make those choices.
Whether it means ending a relationship or starting something new, let’s choose to honor God first and foremost as we make choices that reflect our faith and not our fears.
Learn to Love Here and Now
So often we wait for a relationship to teach us how to love or to pour our love into someone else. While there’s a lot to be learned about love within a relationship, there’s also a lot to be learned about love before a relationship ever comes our way.
Seeking to enhance our love lives starts with learning how to love the people God has put in our lives here and now. As we learn to love our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors with selflessness, forgiveness, grace and healthy communication, we ultimately learn the art of romantic love, as well.
Practice the art of loving by pouring out your love on God and the people He’s placed in your life. Your future love life will benefit, as well.
Keep Sight of the Big Picture, But Savor Every Step
I’m a very “destination-focused” person. I have a tendency to see life as a series of “significant” moments: birthdays, graduations, career, marriage, children. But the unfortunate part of that mentality is that I’ve missed a lot of really meaningful joys along the way.
Through the past few years, I’ve learned to stop seeing my life through the lens of the destination, but instead savoring the journey. According to God’s Word, each and every step along the way is more meaningful than I could ever even know because each day is numbered and accounted for.
When it comes to relationships, it’s important to look at your love life in a similar way—not as one momentous box to check off the list, but instead, as a series of really meaningful moments along the way.
God is creating a bigger picture in your life (that may or may not include a relationship at this point in time), but it is created by a series of smaller brushstrokes. Each one adds something unique. Learn to savor the baby steps along the way, because the journey toward love is just as meaningful as the destination.
As you strive to learn from your past and resolve to make changes for your future, my prayer for your love life this coming year is that it would be filled with little regret, much enjoyment and a whole lot of love—love for God, love for yourself and love for others.
This post originally posted at TrueLoveDates.com and is used with permission.
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.