How to write your own love story this year
January. A new year. A blank page. An opportunity to start afresh, to write the love story that we want to write. But how do we make sure our story has the desired happy ending? Here are some suggestions from my own experience, both of looking for love and writing stories.
Keep the fire burning
As an aspiring novelist, I know I must keep my writing on the front burner, rather than consign it to the back burner. I must keep working on my manuscript rather than putting it in the corner to gather dust. In practical terms, this means writing something every day of the working week, even if it’s just ten minutes.
I believe the same applies to our romantic life. We can put it on the back burner, neglect it and leave it to gather dust while we busy ourselves with other things, which is all too easy to do, or we can make a commitment to nurture it, even just a little bit, most days.
What might this look like in practice?
This will depend on the individual but it can be as subtle and simple as taking a self-loving or self-esteem building action, because self-love and healthy self-esteem are essential to a successful dating life and a long-lasting partnership.
It could be as simple as remembering to lift our gaze from our phone screens or from the pavement and make eye contact with people – to connect with others when the opportunity arises and where appropriate – because our ability to connect with others is key to a healthy relationship and because it’s important to be open to connection.
Or it could be that we decide to engage in online dating three times a week or for an hour a week or whatever works with our schedule, or that we choose to try out a new meet-up group or hobby once a month or once a quarter.
The key is to actively nurture our romantic life and to notice when we’re neglecting it and then bring it back into the light. How can you keep the fire burning?
Know your characters
Good novelists have a deep understanding of their characters, of their personality flaws and their strengths, of their motivations and of their psychological make-up.
When we are dating and looking for love, we need to understand ourselves on a deep level, our backstory, our relationship patterns and the roots of those patterns, our fears and our motivations and intentions. We need to understand if our self-esteem needs shoring up or if we have wounds that need healing.
This can be daunting work but it’s also essential and ultimately, hugely rewarding. If we don’t truly know ourselves, how can we know another? If we don’t build up our healthy foundations, how will we find and maintain a stable relationship?
We can ask God for guidance in this process – through prayer and contemplation. We can ask God to show us which areas need healing and to help us to heal any wounds. We can ask our friends to support us too. And perhaps we will want to seek professional support to guide us on a self-discovery and healing journey.
What steps can you take to know yourself better and to build your healthy foundations for love?
Be in it to win it
This month, I’ll enter my novel into a writing competition even though I know it’s a long shot. Why? Because I have to be in it to win it.
Similarly, we have to be in the dating arena to stand any chance of success. I speak to many people who are frustrated or dissatisfied with online dating as well as to some who can’t bear the thought of dating online at all.
If this is you, I hear you. But we do have to be in it to win it.
Of course, you may meet your partner in the supermarket queue, walking in the park, at church or at a meet-up event, but if you can bring yourself to date online, you will get more dating practice. You’ll get to practise setting boundaries, identifying your needs and wants, staying hopeful, being discerning but not too judgemental and so forth.
Good writing requires practice. Healthy dating does too. How can you bring more dating practice into your life?
Hold it lightly
Every time I enter a writing competition, despite knowing it’s a long shot, I feel disappointed when I don’t win. That’s only natural, right? Rejection stings. But the more we’re rejected, the less it hurts. I’m getting more accustomed to not hearing back from competitions and so it doesn’t both me so much. I don’t take it so personally anymore.
The same applies to dating. If someone decides they don’t want to be with us, it’s going to hurt. But if we keep practising dating, we’ll start to believe that ‘Rejection is God’s protection’. We won’t take it so personally. We’ll brush ourselves off and pick ourselves up, while learning whatever we can from the experience.
While holding things lightly, we also want to stay hopeful – keep trusting and believing, while taking the actions outlined above.
I truly believe that I will finish my novel, that it will be published and that people will enjoy it. And that belief keeps me going, it keeps me writing. Without that belief, I’d give up.
As the new year begins, I’d like to encourage you to stay hopeful and to take small steps to increase your sense of hope – this could be anything from spending more time in prayer to taking inspiration from others who have found love after a long search.
Believe that 2023 will be the year you find a happy relationship, take out your pen and paper and start writing your love story.