Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of cleaning up your living space and get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” It may sound like a load of BS, but there are benefits to using Kondo’s principles to “tidying up” your love life. If yours could use an overhaul, follow these steps.
Take inventory of your love life. Kondo’s method starts with a look at a person’s closet and gradually moves towards the most difficult, sentimental items. That means taking everything out of its place and observing it all at once. That’s right, it’s about to get a little messy. Take time to sit down and make a list of all of the relationships you’ve had; what parts of those relationships spark joy in you? Did you love how one partner left you thoughtful notes, made dinner for you, supported your dreams and goals? Awesome! Were there some not-so-desirable aspects to some relationships? Were they messy, did they not respect your boundaries, or did they made sexist remarks to you regularly? Take time to look at traits of your relationships without attaching them to the specific person. That will make it easier to look at the bigger picture instead of going down heartbreak highway yet again.
Be kind to yourself. After taking stock of your love life, you may be feeling a little vulnerable. Before we get down and dirty with tidying up, take a moment to look at yourself in a mirror and acknowledge that all of your relationships, good and bad, have given you an amazing opportunity to learn. Maybe you learned what love is and isn’t, what qualities you’re looking for in a partner, how to set boundaries, etc. Regardless of how things ended, it’s important to recognize your blessings.
Decide on dealbreakers. Putting exactly what you want in a partner down on paper helps you set a standard, visually and intentionally, of what you want and helps keep you honest. Your list can include anything you want—physical aspects, voice sound, style, career, values that are important to them, the look of their downstairs (and I don’t mean of their home), and more. The list is your guidebook. Sure, some people may be nice enough, but do they check off all your boxes? Doing this also helps you to find out what you value and what you need to thank and let go.
Learn to love yourself, mess and all. If you’ve read the book or watched the show, you know that Kondo has a particular way of tackling the mess and the same principle applies here. We don’t want to just jump into the deep end hoping you might be able to swim. By giving yourself easy, smaller steps, you’re more likely to feel more confident and prepared for the deep end of messy feelings. Take some time to literally look at yourself and list all the things you love about your physical self. What features do you love that you want to highlight to someone you may be looking for or dating? Maybe you have a stunning smile. Highlight the hell out of it! Maybe you’re an Ashley Graham doppelganger (hello, I’m so jealous). Highlight and celebrate the parts of you that you love sharing with others and tell yourself why you love those things. Ultimately, dating is about confidence and it all starts with how you love yourself.
Learn to discard objectively bad advice. Take a deeper look at the relationship advice you get from those around you. Is that advice truly serving the best interests of your heart? Does your family pressure you to hurry into a relationship? Are your friends telling you they don’t like how your significant other treats you? Hear what people have to say, take a moment to digest it, and ask yourself if it really serves you. If it doesn’t, chuck it out.
Highlight areas of your life that spark joy. Dating apps reign because of their convenience and instant gratification but they shouldn’t take up all your free time. Personally, I love to go to museums. It has introduced me to a whole world of other people who enjoy art the way I do. By doing things you love on a regular basis, you’ll automatically add new people into your life who already share the same interests. If I see someone looking at a piece of art or an exhibit that piques my interest, I may go up to them and ask what they think of that particular work. It sounds awkward but once you get past that first initial phase, you may be surprised at how many people are happy to share their time with you.
Cut out things that steal joy. Maybe it’s dating apps, blind dates, old photos and card from exes, people you’re dating out of comfort, or letting others tell you who to like. Let go of those things or people who are stealing joy from your love life! Hear me out; I still have my old wedding dress but none of my wedding pictures because the dress made me feel stunning but the pictures broke my heart every time I looked at them. If these things are not adding joy to your love life, they’re taking away from it.
Let go of unrealistic expectations. If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be that these tips are just guidelines. You are the ultimate decider of what you want your love life to look like. The reason people love the KonMari method is that it takes part of your life that feels overwhelming and scary and teaches you to take time to be more thoughtful about what you have and what you choose to bring into your life. Tidying up your love life encourages you to let go of things that don’t serve your best interests and help you bring things in that do. This looks different for each and every one of us. We can all be kinder to ourselves and our hearts and thank it for bringing us this far and helping us grow. Embrace the process and let your love life spark joy for you!