By HowAboutWe.com

Are you one of the 45 percent of Americans making a New Year’s resolution for 2012? If you’re single, maybe you should be.

Here’s why: it’s been reported that for the first time, the number one New Year’s resolutionfor more than half of American resolution-makers is to spend more time with family and friends. This beat the usual top resolutions of exercising more, weight loss and smoking cessation, which fell into the number two, three and four spots for 2012.

This reprioritized commitment to making the most of our relationships with the people we love says big things about where we stand. Perhaps it’s the tough economy that’s forcing us to consider how much more personal bonds matter than those extra five pounds do, and reflect on why it’s so important to nurture our relationships with the people who support us when it’s questionable whether we’ll be fully able to support ourselves. But to me, this shift in resolutions is indicative of something even more meaningful: for a culture that often gets a bad rap for being self-centered and entitled (an accusation directed most often at us young adults), finally we’re turning the focus away from ourselves and onto the important people in our lives. Lots of us have learned the hard way that we actually do need loving relationships, and we’re ready to show up…for the the ones we’re in, and the ones we want.

Another reason this is the time to put relationships first? Last week a headline-making study revealed that a whopping 49 percent of American adults are single. If you’re one of them and you’re looking for love, 2012 looks optimistic. “The new year always brings a lot of new energy,” says New York City-based love coach Karin Knoblich. “We need to see ourselves as the source of our experience and take full responsibility for what we want to create.” In other words, when it comes to your resolution to find love, it’s in your control to make it happen. Here are Knoblich’s keys:

1. Address any obstacles. Knoblich says she can often see right away whether a client is truly prepared to enter a relationship. “Just because we want something very much doesn’t mean that we’re ready,” she says, making this important distinction: “We’re ready when we’re willing to clear away the obstacles.” Knoblich explains that clients commonly encounter inner obstacles like emotional injuries that happened to us in childhood or past breakups. When we finally face them and push them out of our way, circumstances outside of us that were repelling love often resolve themselves.

Bottom line? If you’re hurting from your past, you need to tend to that wound first. Knoblich says she looks for whether a person is “grounded enough and connected to spirit” to move on, forgive and let go of their emotional baggage and their resentment of past partners. If so, then she begins the work.

2. Believe that you’re ready. Knoblich practices Core Energetics, a body-centered approach to love coaching that helps her clients center in on what they truly feel. “Often I have people stand,” she says. “I ask them to connect with their body and claim: ‘I’m here. I want to be in a relationship. I’m here with open arms. I’m available. I want to attract this wonderful mate into my life.’ ” But sometimes when a person tries to connect their energy to their words, Knoblich says, “It doesn’t feel quite true.” Try the exercise yourself: stand, take a moment to connect your mind with how your body feels, and say the words. Deep down, do you believe them? Your commitment to seeking love may not feel 100 percent authentic just yet, Knoblich says, but again, pay close attention to what’s happening inside you. Identifying the fact that you harbor fears about love is the first step to working through them.

3. Accept imperfection. This is the most common fear when it comes to pursuing love. “We’re all scared of [involving ourselves] intimately in love with another person,” Knoblich says, “because it means we’re getting intimately in love with another human being who is imperfect–who is just as wounded as we are.” And it’s crucial to understand that even when you’re in a loving relationship, pain will surface occasionally. “We tend to have attractions to people who we know on some level can help us heal from the past,” Knoblich says. “That means actually reactivating the original wounds of betrayal, rejection, abandonment.” When you look at it that way, no wonder it can be so scary to get involved with someone, but Knoblich says this is the way a relationship can help us grow into our fullest potential. “To be in a relationship is a journey,” she explains. “This is the road to healing and integrating the heart, the sexuality and the mind.”

4. Let your emotions rule.“In our society, we live a lot in our heads,” Knoblich says. “But when we engage in relationships, we need to develop the capacity and strength to tolerate intense feelings.” In 2012, when pain, anger, and love bubble up inside, allow yourself to experience them deeply. Hold onto them for a moment. Acknowledge them. Even act on them. That’s the only way to develop what Knoblich refers to as the “physical container” that’s necessary for us to live in relationship with another person. Otherwise, she says, “At the first sight of somebody’s imperfection or not showing up according to their expectations, we’ll head for the exit door. Unless you have the willingness to be that vulnerable,” she says, “love will be elusive.”

5. Define your goal.What type of relationship are you being called to experience right now? Knoblich points out how crucial it is to clearly identify your mission. “Are you looking to get married? Are you looking to have a long-term committed relationship? Maybe you just want to get back into the dating world.” Many people set a short-term goal to date more, accompanied by a longer-term goal to enter a committed relationship. An important tip? Knoblich says it’s helpful to set a time frame, because if we hold ourselves to it, we’ll start to notice the obstacles we’re encountering–for example: Every man I dated this year was emotionally unavailable. A deadline of sorts gives us a window of time to grasp an awareness of our experiences.

6. Set the intention.When we have a goal, then we can really take stock of where our energy lies. “It’s not like, I’m wishing for a boyfriend or a girlfriend,” Knoblich says. “Instead: ‘I’m setting the intention to find my life partner.’ Or, ‘I’m setting the intention to date three men without getting so quickly involved sexually.’ ” And it is absolutely critical to identify where our energy truly lies, because you may think that you want one thing, while in reality your energy is guiding you elsewhere. “We may tell ourselves that we want to get married, but on an energetic level, marriage may be absolutely terrifying. Setting the intention is really important for taking responsibility for the obstacles that appear in our lives,” and this is what helps us to understand and transcend the disappointment that’s inevitable. “We’re not just taking ourselves out of the game after the first rejection,” Knoblich says. If your intention is set, you keep moving forward.

So as we encounter potential partners in the new year, here are the important considerations to make: Is the person you’re interested in relationship material? Do they look like they’re ready? Chemistry and attraction are important, but they aren’t everything–when we operate strictly on those, Knoblich says, “We don’t look at who this person really is. Do they make a good long-term partner, or are we going to get caught up in a whirlwind romance and three months later find ourselves heartbroken and crushed with lower self-esteem?” This points to an important element in finding the partner who suits you best: “Having high self-esteem is the recipe to attract somebody who will treat you well, who will respect you, who will be supportive,” Knoblich emphasizes. “It’s healthy to expect that.”

Still, she acknowledges how overwhelming the idea of a relationship can be. “If you see yourself procrastinating, or declining dates, or if you find flaws in someone, then you’ll use that as an excuse not to get to know that person.” If that’s you, 2012 may be your year to dig deeper and assess why your mind isn’t open to the love your heart’s longing for. Knoblich says the best way to accomplish this may be with a psychotherapist or a love coach who will guide you into your past and help you embrace your inner child–the resilient and totally, unconditionally lovable part of who you are. “We all have experiences of not being wanted, or not being enough, or being too much,” Knoblich says. If you keep running into walls when it comes to romance, a coach or a therapist can help turn the experience around: “You have somebody in your corner who walks with you on this journey,” Knoblich explains, “so that when you get hurt, you can always comfort yourself. You can remind yourself that you are good–that you deserve love and happiness.”

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