We all have habits. Maybe you bite your nails or drink two cups of coffee before leaving for work in the morning; or perhaps you’re always running late or can’t go a day without checking your email. Our habits influence our tendencies as humans and our tendencies influence the way we live our lives.

While these habits do change the way we go about our daily lives, they’re not the kind of habits that define who we are.  Habits that define who we are—the ones embedded into our very being—are not easily broken or acquired and can have a significant impact on our relationships with others.

Stephen Covey, renowned author and endorser of Meet to Marry™, is no stranger to relationship success. In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Covey discusses the impact our habits have on our character and our ability to communicate and establish relationships effectively—or ineffectively.

Covey defines habits as “the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.” In other words, our habits consist of knowing what we need to do and why, how we go about doing it and what it is that we want to do.

As we begin to understand how our habits influence who we are, Covey explains that we move from being dependent to independent and finally, interdependent. It is at this final stage that the ultimate formula for a successful relationship is created, a formula that doesn’t exclude “you” or “I,” but creates a powerful and dynamic relationship between the two.

The same seven habits that make a highly effective person can also help you become a highly effective dater:

  1. Be proactive. Remember that you are in control of your life. If you don’t feel like you’re meeting anyone or you’re not where you want to be in your relationship, assess what is missing and change it. Make a promise or set a goal for yourself and act on it. For example, make a dating action plan that includes scheduling time for dating-related activities.
  2. Begin with the end in mind. Before you begin a relationship, you need to first know where you’re going. By understanding your intentions, you won’t waste time with the people who didn’t align with your marriage vision in the first place. Ask yourself: What’s my mission? What am I hoping to achieve by dating?
  3. Put first things first. You may say “yes” or “no” to dating on a regular basis, but if you truly want to find your ideal spouse, you need to put in the effort. Your decisions need to align with your goals. If marriage is important to you, put forth the effort and be an intentional dater!
  4. Think win/win. Don’t be alarmed by this habit, having a win/win mentality isn’t as impossible as you may think. In fact, Covey argues that achieving this kind of outcome is most realistic at the beginning of a relationship. Perhaps you recently started dating someone, but you realize it’s not going to work out. Rather than thinking one of you is losing out by ending the relationship, think win/win. There is someone else better out there for both of you, and by ending things sooner rather than later, you open the door again to the possibility of meeting that person.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Setting goals for yourself is a great way to help you become a proactive dater. However, it’s also important to remember that goals aren’t achieved overnight. One of the best ways to reach your dating goal is to listen. More importantly, listen with the intent to understand others and not just yourself. Rather than jumping headfirst into a relationship, take the time to listen to what someone else has to say so you’ll know if that person is right for you.
  6. Synergize. Covey explains that “when you communicate synergistically, you are simply opening your mind and heart and expressions to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.” If someone’s views don’t align with yours, don’t criticize them. Instead, make an effort to listen, ask questions and understand where they’re coming from. Be open and, if you don’t feel like you’re making a connection with someone, simply explain that while you respect their views, you don’t think they will line up with yours in the long run. What they value may not be right for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not right for someone else.
  7. Sharpen the saw. Make a habit of renewing yourself physically, spiritually, mentally and socially on a regular basis so that when you meet “the One” you can be the best possible version of yourself!

Learning how to become a highly effective dater is a process that takes place from the inside out. By developing these seven habits, you can unlock your dating potential and discover your own relationship success!