Romantic and friend relationships alike are healthiest when they enhance both people’s lives and push us to be the best version of ourselves. When we have a supportive network in our lives, we live longer, deal with stress more effectively and are healthier all around.

Finding the right kind of people to build these essential bonds with can be a challenge. Here are three ways to help you identify people who can enhance your life and in turn you theirs:

Give People a Chance

Whether it’s a romantic or friend connection we’re seeking; we tend to have expectations going in. We think we know what is best for us, what will benefit us the most and what will fit into our lives.

The problem is we can lack perspective. We think we know our “type” on paper but real life is very different. People are dynamic and full of surprises.

Instead of keeping a checklist of “must haves” in friends and lovers, consider tossing the list — or ignoring it for a while. If you are only concentrating on checking off boxes on your list, you may completely miss real people who offer traits and a connection you couldn’t have dreamed up. Characteristics that are far better than what you were able to imagine. But if you’re fixated on your list, you’ll never even see them or even consider them.

Give people a chance, especially if you might normally disregard them as having potential. Question the first impression you get of a person as these are created within mere seconds.
The more time you have with a person, will reveal who the person is and who they truly can be to you.

Stay Sober

There is no denying that alcohol can be a social lubricant and “take the edge off” of nerve wrecking events. And without a doubt, dating can be one such stress-inducing event.

But when alcohol is introduced into a date it can change the dynamic and our behavior. Alcohol increases the amount of dopamine released into your brain’s reward center — the same place that is active when you’re involved in pleasurable activities. Consequently, upping dopamine levels in your brain, alcohol tricks you into thinking that it’s actually making you feel great. This can convince us that we’re okay with engaging in behaviors you wouldn’t engage in when sober.

This is a problem because connecting with others is about showing our true selves. If who we are is altered or masked, we are not truly connecting with anyone, not even ourselves.
It can be a little more stressful initially to remain sober on a date or hanging out with a new friend. Try to push yourself to not shy away from those intense and uncomfortable feelings, but to embrace them and accept them. You can do this by planning outings where alcohol isn’t a typical or expected part of the experience. Perhaps opt for grabbing a coffee shop or going bowling — there are many date ideas that do not have to involve alcohol.

Keep Perspective

Meeting the right people or “the one”, shouldn’t be your main focus. Making this search the center of your life not only causes you stress but also makes your life rather uninteresting.
Instead cultivate your interests, recommit to your health, career and loved ones. These will help you create balance and health in your life, which will in turn attract people to you. It might seem counterintuitive but it really works.

When starting to spend time with a person, keep in mind that an emotional roller coaster is not the same as having a connection with them. Feeling butterflies about a new love interest is not the same as feeling unsettled because the other person isn’t fully emotionally available. Don’t mistake a toxic relationship full of seesawing highs and lows for feelings of love.

People and relationships can bring joy and fun into our lives. They also can provide support and love. If you’re in search of friends or a relationship that is healthful, be open to letting go of your preset expectations as well as your usual dating habits and your fear. This will allow you to figure out what kind of people you want in your life and who you want to be too.

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