Like any year, 2013 was filled with both ups and downs.
For many, those highs and lows included some catastrophic things in the area of relationships. While some of you experienced the joy of love and healthy relationships, many others experienced a lot of pain, heart-break and the emotional ups and downs that beg for the start of a brand new year.
Like the rest of you, I’m all for the new-ness of 2014. I’m excited to say “good riddance” to a painful year and usher in the hope of a new one. But one thing I know to be true—when it comes to relationships in particular—you can’t do the same things in the same way and expect different results.
No matter how much you hope, pray and dream for good things this coming year, for many of you, good things will only come when you learn to make better, wiser and healthier choices.
If you’re still holding on to the hope of better relationships in the year to come, there are some mistakes that you may need to acknowledge, and then take ownership of as we approach the new year.
Here are five relationship mistakes to stop making in 2014:
Stop letting the wrong people into your life
One of the biggest relationship mistakes people make has less to do with what they do in a relationship, and more to do with who they choose to enter a relationship with.
We can spend so much time thinking about what we want in someone of the opposite sex without ever taking the time to think through what we don’t want—and what we won’t settle for. When it comes to finding love, there are some red flags that simply cannot be ignored for the prospect of a healthy relationship.
Think through the people you allowed into your life this year and ask yourself if they were the kind of people who built you up, or tore you down. Healthy relationships will always add more to your life than they take.
Don’t allow your physical relationship to lead the way
As Christians, it’s easy to get sick and tired of hearing the “waiting until marriage” rhetoric. But we’re not just talking about sex here.
When it comes to dating, it’s easy to allow the physical interactions of your relationship to take the lead before you know what happened. But time and time again, I hear from both married and unmarried couples alike about the harm that encompasses those who allow their physical relationship to lead the way.
There is certainly a time and place for physical affection in a dating relationship. But letting the physical lead the way will always skew your judgment, heighten your emotions and fool your concept of commitment. When the physical attributes of your relationship take control, they have the power to ruin a relationship. That’s something worth avoiding in 2014.
Stop believing that you are worth less
There is so much truth to the concept that you will always attract the kind of relationship you believe you deserve. Maybe part of the problems you had in 2013 is that you didn’t believe you are worth more. As you move into the new year, take the time to consider what you are worth and how that plays into your relationship choices.
Don’t avoid talking to God about your relationships
It’s embarrassing how simple yet profound this statement is. Why we don’t take the time to talk to the Almighty God of the Universe who knows all things and can make all things happen is simply mind-boggling to me.
He knows what’s best for our lives, and He knows what we need to get us there. Why not go to Him for wisdom, for hope and for healing? Why not seek Him with our questions, our pain and our problems? There are many different ways you can pray for your relationships in 2014.
Don’t downplay the importance of emotional boundaries
We talk a lot about the dangers of the physical in a dating relationship, but we don’t talk much about the emotional. But in my opinion, emotional intimacy can be just as damaging as physical intimacy if we’re not careful to proceed with caution.
As you approach 2014, maybe it’s time to take inventory of your emotional health and the boundaries you’ve put up to protect your heart. Getting too emotionally intimate too quickly has ruined many relationships, because your heart is precious, and something that needs to be handled with care.
Seek to set emotional boundaries in your life and protect your heart this coming year.
We’ve all made mistakes. But it’s most important that we learn from those mistakes, and then strive to never let them happen again.
Here’s to 2014. May it be a year full of love, laughter, joy and the hope of healthy relationships.
*This article is adapted from concepts in my new book, True Love Dates.
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.