The Secret Ingredient to Dating & Relationship Success

The love you have for yourself is inextricably intertwined with the love you have for others. Which means, how you regularly take care of yourself can reflect the type of love you offer others. Is your love needy and greedy or is it selfless and unconditional? Loving selflessly sounds wonderful in theory but emotional maturity doesn’t always lend itself to dating and relationships. Imagine those moments when you default back to your learned patterns of childhood behaviour (e.g. avoiding, blaming, seeking approval, “punishing”), how do these habits show up now in your adult self and are these loving ways of behaving towards yourself or another person? These behaviours may be learned ways of coping or behaving badly but you can change them once you are aware of their presence.

So, if you find yourself single or coupled and complaining about your relationship or lack of one, consider reflecting on how healthy your relationship with yourself is. If you would really like to change or improve your love life you need to first improve the way you currently self-love.

Drawing on my experience as a dating and relationship coach, the following behaviours identify how being high/low in self-love has impacted on the way my single and coupled clients experience dating and relationships.


  • Expecting every date to be “the one”

  • Being unsure how to set standards

  • Their dating/relationship needs as unknown

  • Minimising date's bad behaviours (e.g. making excuses for dates lack of contact, commitment, etc.)

  • Experiencing difficulties maintaining close healthy relationships

  • Other areas of life lacking consistency & discipline

  • Experiencing difficulties maintaining healthy communication (e.g. too much contact to none at all)

  • Struggling with being assertive or complaining effectively (e.g. asking for what one really wants)

  • Blaming circumstances; dating apps, age, past, children on lack of relationship success

  • Feeling unfulfilled in other areas of life (e.g. career)

  • Not knowing what brings them joy

  • Rushing in and out of relationships (e.g. unconsciously dating)

  • Being indecisive


  • Developing dating skills to attract suitable partners

  • Consciously dating (e.g. discovering if date is suitable for them rather than hoping date likes them

  • Being aware of dating/relationship needs

  • Setting standards & being decisive

  • Being familiar with old thinking habits (e.g. all men/women are untrustworthy)

  • Understanding how faulty thinking can distort dating reality

  • Being aware of relationships history & unhealthy or red flag behaviour in dates

  • Directly communicating - on and offline

  • Taking time getting to know a date

  • Taking responsibility for actions

  • Being optimistic, positive & enjoying dating

  • Not relying on a date to fulfil them

  • Creating a fulfilling life (e.g. aware of importance of alone time, dating self & time spent with friends)

  • Maintaining close friendships


  • Unaware of their responsibility to meet own needs and create a life they love

  • Overdependent on partner to fulfil needs

  • Can be pessimistic, forlorn, self-defeated, negative and unhappy

  • Poor on direct communication (e.g. expecting partner to guess what is wrong)

  • Strong to react and misinterpreting responses to think the worst

  • Blaming or criticising others when they don’t respond to their needs (e.g. silent treatment, withholding information)

  • Defensive

  • Resentful towards partners need for independence


  • How their partner enhances their already full life

  • An ability to acknowledge & appreciate partners uniqueness

  • Addressing problems/challenges by directly communicating them to partner

  • Committing to their own happiness and being generally positive and optimistic

  • Being aware of own needs and communicating them to their partner

  • Scheduling time for self and relationship

  • Taking responsibility to manage conflict in a healthy way

Annie Lavin is a dating and relationship coach. She will host a public talk entitled, 21st Century Dating and Relationships on Fri 16th February from 7-9pm at The Fumbally Stables, Fumbally Lane, Dublin. The workshop costs €18, contact for more information or to secure your place as numbers are limited. During this talk Annie will share details of her new Spring workshops to achieve relationship success.