When you’re ready to start a relationship and get to know someone new, you might skip a critical step: getting to know yourself first.

Building a solid bond with yourself ensures you have the tools needed to form a healthy connection with someone else – and the self-awareness to know when a relationship isn’t right for you. Before devoting all your energy to a special someone, get closer to yourself with five quick and easy self-checks.

1. Check Your Needs and Boundaries

Relationships come in many shapes and sizes – which is why it’s essential to check in with yourself and get clear about what you need before starting one. Are you looking for some no-strings-attached fun, or is commitment a must? Do you need someone who practices clear communication? Or how about someone who will take the lead? These are things you can decide through a journaling session or even when crafting your Jaumo profile.

But don’t stop there. Your needs and wants don’t mean much if you don’t feel comfortable communicating them to a potential partner. Test your ability to communicate your needs in a low-pressure situation, such as with an acquaintance or coworker. Start small, like asking for quiet time when you’re busy or putting a deadline on that lunch money they owe you. Notice how you feel – both physically and emotionally – when you stick up for yourself.

Voicing and honoring your needs is a skill that can take time to master, but working on it now, before diving deep into a new relationship, will pay off later.

2. Check Your Schedule

No one ever said dating is like going to the dentist – but maybe they should (in the best way possible, of course!). Both require setting aside time in your busy schedule so that you’re available and mentally present. And while a toothache can’t wait, starting a new relationship can come later if you truly don’t have the time and mental bandwidth to devote to it.

If you’re juggling work, two personal projects, and a course, and you’re barely able to keep up with your social life as it is, now may not be the time to add a romantic partner into the mix. After all, dedicated time and emotional availability are musts for getting to know each other, especially in the early stages of dating. And as your relationship develops and you run into the occasional misunderstanding or disagreement, you’ll need time together to sort it out.

Take a look at your calendar, and notice how you feel. Do you feel excited to start penciling in dates and Live Events to meet others? Or do you feel overwhelmed and tense just at the thought? If you’re not feeling ready or able to block off time and energy for a new relationship, it’s okay to press pause until your schedule lets up.

3. Check Your Self-Image

Before starting a new relationship, check that you have a clear identity and self-image that’s independent of other people.

In other words, avoid falling into the trap of seeing yourself as merely so-and-so’s partner once your new relationship begins. Not only will this strengthen your self-esteem, but it can also boost your confidence in the early stages of dating.

One self-check you can do is a goals exercise. Brainstorm your future goals, zeroing in on the aspirations that occur outside of dating, relationships, or marriage. It’s totally normal to dream of having a healthy relationship in the future. But be sure to bring your own personal goals into those partnerships too. That way, you set yourself up for a life where you can fulfill your highest potential, rather than losing your sense of self in the shadows of someone else.

4. Check Your Dating History

If you’re dating or still searching for that special someone, stop and check your past love interests before making any relationship commitments. Why? Because many people have a type when it comes to romantic partners, and if they’re not careful, they may fall for someone who is essentially their ex, repackaged.

To avoid letting this happen to you, make a mental list of your exes, situationships, random hookups, and even the celebrity crushes you’ve been ogling for ages.

Next, take note of what initially drew you to each person, looking for any similarities between them.

Then, decide which of those qualities contribute to positive, healthy relationships – and which have proven to be toxic in the past. Be aware of these patterns when pursuing a new partner to avoid having history repeat itself.

5. Check Your Beliefs About Relationships

When it comes to relationships, what you think is often what you get. For example, if you believe that no one can be trusted, your relationships may be dotted with betrayals and trust issues. Or if you believe that you’ll be turned down by a crush, you may self-sabotage, triggering them to pull away. That’s why it’s crucial to do a self-check of your limiting beliefs about relationships before starting a new one.

A great way to unpack your beliefs is by talking to a therapist or trusted friend to gain some perspective. But even on your own, you can begin rewriting the relationship scripts you’ve been following.

In a journal, write the sentence stems, “Relationships always,” and “Relationships never,” and then finish each phrase with any thoughts that come to mind (like, “Relationships always hold me back,” or, “Relationships never work out”). Ask yourself if those beliefs are really benefiting you. If they’re not, challenge those beliefs by writing about instances when they were proven wrong. Revisit these writings whenever negativity pops up again.

Your Next Relationship Starts With You

Let’s face it: you can’t always predict where a relationship with someone new will take you. But checking in with yourself first can help create the sturdy foundation of self-awareness needed for relationships to thrive. Try the self-checks discussed above for quick and easy ways to ensure you’re ready to cozy up with someone new, before things get serious.

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