How to Reflect on and Learn From Your Dating Life Ahead of the New Year
By Rachael Schultz
As 2022 comes to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on anything that you want to do differently in the new year. This especially applies to dating. “Being intentional about who you spend your time with, whether that’s just for a late-night drink or for the rest of your life, is what leads to being a happier, more satisfied version of ourselves,” sociologist Dr. Jennifer Gunsaullus says.
You might find that the only people you want to spend time with are your friends, and that you’re not really interested in dating at the moment. Or perhaps you’re itching to find a long-term relationship. Either way, reflecting on what went well in 2022 and thinking through how you want to move forward in 2023 is a good way to start the new year on the right track. Here’s how to do just that, according to experts.
Ask yourself: What were your dating highlights and lowlights of 2022?
Think about what your love life looked like over the past year. Maybe it was a long string of mediocre dates—or perhaps you focused on one incredible match who you’re still seeing. Maybe you were prioritizing alone time. Regardless of how it went, “it’s important to reflect on past experiences so you can identify patterns and then lean into or away from them in the future,” says dating coach Blaine Anderson.
We tend to blame everything that went wrong or right in a relationship on one person, whether that’s ourself or our partner. The reality is usually somewhere in between, Anderson points out. Sussing out what was in and out of your control, both the good and the bad, is crucial to identifying what unwanted patterns you may be repeating.
Think about your three best and three worst dates, situationships, or relationships of 2022. Then consider: which parts of what I liked and didn’t like about the connection were in my control? Which parts were not? What was due to extenuating circumstances outside of both of your control, like distance or poor timing?
Ask yourself: Do I want to date in 2023? And if so, what kind of relationship do I want?
Whether you went on zero dates in 2022 or 365, it’s helpful to ask yourself if you want to date in the year ahead—or if you want to take some time to be alone. If you aren’t sure, psychologist Dr. Rhoberta Shaler says to consider what your ideal month would look like, and how you’d spend your time? What portion would be alone, socializing, or in a relationship? If the answer is entirely alone or spending time with friends, consider taking time off from dating.
If you do want to date, ask yourself what you’re looking for in a match in 2023. “It’s the foundational question that we rarely ask ourselves—or are rarely realistic about,” says Dr. Gunsaullus. Go back to your perfect month, and think about what you’d want your relationships to look like in that context. How much time would you spend together each week? What activities would you like to do? How would you want to feel—happy, light, secure, or challenged? These questions will help you focus on true compatibility and how another person can fit into the life you already have, says Dr. Shaler.
Ask yourself: Who do I want to attract in 2023?
Don’t focus on the folks who you’re hoping will swipe right on your profile in 2023. Instead, think about who you want to match with. “A big issue in dating is people are too busy trying to be attractive to others, rather than focusing on who they want to attract,” says Dr. Shaler.
To hone in on the kind of person you’re looking for, think about the common themes among the people who you dated and liked in 2022. Then, consider what was missing with the connections you made. This can lead you to figuring out what matters most to you, what you value about yourself, and the kinds of traits that you’re seeking in a partner.
Taking the time to reflect on why you are or aren’t dating currently—and what you want your love life to look like in 2023—could help you get a head start on making the new year your best one yet.