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After going through a few failed relationships, you begin to realize several things. For me, I had spent my entire life, jumping into one relationship after the other, and eventually, I became burned out.

I had given all of myself to men that didn’t appreciate me at all. And the more I gave, the more they took from me without giving anything in return. While it may sound cliche you cannot pour from an empty cup. Eventually, my stores of energy ran bare, and I found myself in an almost relationship yet again, that was completely one-sided.

At the time, as I walked away from the relationship (or the semblance of one) I felt sad. However, I am so thankful that it happened. I vowed to stay single (entirely) until I figured myself out, and the lessons I learned during that time changed my life.

1. Don’t be a wife to your boyfriend.

As a young woman, I always tended to try to ‘win’ the affection of the men I dated. I would find myself at their house, doing their laundry, and cooking them meals. I would dedicate myself to them loyally, and then wonder why they didn’t want to commit. Now I realize, that while I was busy earning their love, they were becoming complacent.

2. You truly do have to love yourself first.

As cliche as it may sound, you do have to love yourself first. You have to have respect for yourself. And you have to know your worth. People see how you treat yourself and they often treat you according to what you expect.

3. You cannot and should not change people.

I cannot count how many times I have seen potential in someone and then throughout the relationship, I would excuse horrible behavior because I thought I would make them better. Not only was this ignorant, but it was also really shallow. If someone isn’t right, then they aren’t right. You cannot fix that. Find someone who is right.

4. It’s no one else’s responsibility to make you feel happy or secure.

We often expect our partners to make us feel happy and secure. If we feel insecure in ourselves, we blame our partner. But, it’s not our partner’s job to make us feel happy. Happiness is an inside job.

5. I don’t need anyone else to feel complete.

Another thing we are engrained to do is search for our ‘other half.’ When in reality, we are a whole being all by ourselves. Dating isn’t supposed to be an act of completion. It’s an act of cooperation.

6. Not every date is going to have potential.

Don’t push something to be what it’s not. Enter into a date with zero expectations. This person may end up being a partner, or they might end up being someone you never see again. They could be a friend, but who knows? Lower your expectations for your dates.

7. You cannot force love.

Love is not something that you can control. It’s a complex emotion that some connections are simply not meant to develop. And that’s okay. If you find you are in a connection with someone, and they don’t love you, but you love them, the sad reality is, you can’t do anything to earn their love. They have to develop those feelings. If they don’t and you are trying to find love, you may be better off putting your eggs in another basket.

8. It’s better to be single than it is to be in the wrong relationship.

So many people think the opposite of love is being single. When they imagine being single in contrast to being in a toxic relationship, they shudder with fear. But, the truth is, being single is far better than settling for a toxic relationship.

9. You have to change your dating habits to get better results.

You cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. If you continue to be a doormat to your potential partners, you are going to attract the same scenario time and time again.

10. Stop trying to see the best in people all the time.

It’s noble to want to see the best in people. Because for the most part, people do have genuinely good intentions. However, there are some people in which the bad outweighs the good.

11. Love and lust are not the same.

In relationships and dating, we oftentimes misinterpret a spark as a meaningful emotion. However, love takes time. It doesn’t happen instantaneously. And while you may get excited when you are around someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are truly in love.

12. Love takes time.

Don’t rush relationships. If things are developing slowly, let it. Love takes time to build organically. If you rush it, you are only increasing your chances of ending up in a situation in which you feel so much love but absolutely no compatibility.