01/16/2019 15:06 EST | Updated 01/16/2019 15:09 EST

An Empowered Love Life Awaits You In 2019 If You Follow These Tips

Make this the year of knowing what works for you and not accepting anything less.

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, a lot of people decide to make some goals for their love life. But rather than focusing on "meeting someone" or "settling down," there's a much better goal to set for yourself for 2019: becoming more empowered in your love life. It's the perfect time to focus on yourself, as your dating life should make you feel strong and self-assured.

But that doesn't come naturally for us all. Maybe a string of bad relationships has thrown you off your game, or you've never really gotten your love life started. And that's before we even get into the fact that society tells women that they should do anything and everything they can to find a partner, shunting their personality and happiness in the process.

Basically, there are a lot of forces that can make you feel hesitant or insecure in your dating life, and it's time to give yourself the tools to move forward.

Here's where to start.

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Let go of your past

Sure, your relationships will shape you and change you as you go along — that's natural. But weighty baggage, that slightly twisted anger or resentment or fear that's been following you around? It's time to let go of that feeling.

Doing so may just mean you make an effort to catch yourself when you're projecting past relationships onto a new partner — expecting them to be untrustworthy, unsupportive or unkind when they've given you no reason to think they would be. If you have a lot of baggage or the wounds are particularly deep, talking to a professional to get a clean slate can make a huge difference.

Allow yourself to have deal-breakers

You're allowed to have non-negotiables. You're allowed to be rigid and forthright on the things you care about — you don't have to bend to fit for anyone, just because they seem to show an interest.

So if your career is a deal-breaker, if kids are an absolute, if you need a certain level of independence — that's fine. It's better than fine, it's great, because it means you have a strong sense of self and self-awareness, which is crucial for a happy, functioning relationship.

I've had friends who said their politics were crucial to who they are suddenly go off and marry someone with completely different views, slowly burying their own beliefs. I've seen people who swore they wanted to have children for their entire lives suddenly never mention them again. You don't have to do that — and, crucially, you shouldn't.

Admit when things aren't working

You save yourself so much time and energy by saying to yourself, "This just doesn't feel right," and moving along. It's one of the most empowering things you can do in your love life.

Staying in bad relationships or trying to force something when there's no spark is one of the most painful things you can do to yourself — no matter how much you convince yourself it's "going great" or that you're "just going through a rough patch," which is really the entire relationship.

Experiment and explore

If you've always been after the same thing — the boyfriend, the wedding, the kids — there's a good chance you've been following a fairly strict path to get there. But being empowered is all about knowing what you want, and sometimes that means taking a little detour to figure that out. Go on new types of dates with new types of people. Explore your sexuality and have fun in the bedroom. When you experiment, you may find a whole new facet to your love life.

Screw other people's expectations

Finally, it's time to let go of other people's expectations — whether it's your mother's, friend's, society's, whatever. Fuck. Them. All.

If you're happily single, what does it matter that your aunts disapprove? If you feel like your relationship is best when you live in different places, if you prioritize your career over marriage, if you want to go out and have a sexual walkabout and never go on a goodman date, that's all totally fine.

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If you want to feel really empowered in your love life in 2019, it's about getting down to what you really want, and saying fuck the rest.

As you enter 2019, make sure that any goals you have for your love life are ones that actually benefit you. Make this the year of knowing what works for you and not accepting anything less. That's empowerment.

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