by Steve Arterburn and Meg Rinck

Consider blind dates. Why not? Just use the same common sense you would use in dating anyone for the first time.

1. Get a life. The most important thing is to be Ms. Right yourself. Finding the right man is not going to change you into a better person than you already are. If you are lazy and self-centered, finding a generous hard working fellow is not going to transform you. If you are boring and a one-dimensional person, finding an intellectually challenging man is not going to change who you are. Learn how to be interesting, kind, caring, and unselfish. Model yourself after women you admire. Work hard at changing your character defects. (If you are not sure what they are, ask your mother!) Become more well rounded. Complete your education. Get a hobby. Volunteer and expose yourself to people who are less-fortunate than you are. Travel abroad and see how fortunate we are in the USA. Learn some humility by volunteering to serve others. Take a listening class. Get some counseling if you need to learn to be assertive or how to share your feelings. If you have some childhood traumas deal with them now, with someone who can give you professional help. Learn to be happy with yourself, first. No man, no matter how right is going to make you happy. You will only be happy in your new relationship if you are happy inside first.

2. Evaluate your physical attractiveness. Not everyone is Ms. America. Nobody looks like the models in magazines. We each have something going for us though. Find out what your best feature is and accentuate it. Wear clothes that flatter your figure. Do not try to be a size 6 if you are really a size 12. Accept yourself for who you are, but don’t use that as an excuse to let yourself go either. Some men like a woman with a little meat on her bones, but no one wants a slob. Big can be beautiful if you manage things correctly. If you are overweight, consult your doctor and find out what is healthy for a woman your size. Rather than living up to some super-model or stereotype of femininity you should aim to be all you can. Men want to be proud of their wife’s appearance, not embarrassed. Work with what you have: get a makeover; ask a personal shopper at the department store to help you revamp your look. You don’t need to spend a fortune, simply plan wisely with a few sharp pieces. Small changes can make a world of difference in your looks as well as your outlook.

3. Know what you are looking for in a man. Here are some qualities to look for in a healthy relationship: common values and similar culture, ability to forgive and be forgiven, ability to be challenged and confronted without defensiveness, desire to raise children, common goals. Ask yourself, Why do I want this relationship? To lose myself? To find myself?· To make up for what I lost in childhood? To keep me so excited I can’t be depressed? To boost my sagging self-esteem? To be a temporary fix until I decide I want something better? For security or someone to take care of me? To be in control? To show off to my friends that I can get a man? To get my parents off my back? To run away from my responsibilities? To find someone to support my children?

Ask yourself where you want to be in twenty-five years. What type of person do you want to become? How will your choices now influence that outcome? Try to think beyond your nose for a few minutes. Look down the road. Be honest. What does your heart desire? Just a paycheck, children, a companion? What you choose today will have an impact on what you get later. Choose wisely. What looks good now may cause heartache later. What you do now does matter.

4. Rise above past mistakes. You are not doomed to an endless series of losers. You are half-way to Mr. RIGHT by seeing what you have done wrong in the past. You cannot correct something you did not realize was stupid. Congratulations! You are starting to develop humility, which is a good trait. Just don’t let it turn into self-pity and low self-esteem. We all fail and make mistakes. We all have things we remember with regret. Unlike us, God is very forgiving when we repent, turn around and are willing to let Him change us. We are forgiven in Jesus. He died for us while we were still sinners, not after we got our acts together. No one is beyond the pale. God loves all of us, even when we do not love ourselves. Forgive yourself. Let God forgive you in Christ Jesus. Open your heart to grace and freedom from shame. You are loved. You can be forgiven. Our heavenly father opens his arms wide to welcome us back when we make mistakes. We can change and grow and become new creations. We do not have to be doomed to failure over and over. Talk to your pastor, or call for Christian counseling at 1-800 NEW LIFE. There are many resources available to help you turn your life around. Do not give up.

5. Talk to your family and friends about the kind of man you want. Who better knows you and the things you need? Ask them for tips on the type of guy they think you need, and don’t be insulted when they tell you the truth. They probably know you better than you know yourself. Their feedback could be invaluable.

6. Be open to matchmaker services and the Internet. Is it safe to look there for someone? It depends. Personal ads have been around for years, and the Internet Web pages are just an extension of them. It used to be that only the “desperate and dateless” used personal ads, but now it is commonplace for almost anyone to take advantage of Web pages for matchmaking. You will find categories and types of listings you never thought existed. It seems that everyone is online now, and access can be overwhelming. Some couples have been successful in establishing satisfying relationships with the Web. Others have run into problems all the way from being deceived, to being murdered. Millions of people are online every day and you must be aware that like anywhere else, you will meet all types. Using common sense, and seeking reputable services with good references are the basics when going online. Certainly, never agree to meet someone without proper precautions such as meeting in a public place, and having a friend with you or nearby or who knows where you are going and with whom.

7. Consider blind dates. Why not? Just use the same common sense you would use in dating anyone for the first time. Or ask your friends to invite you and the person they want you to meet to their home for dinner or to a party first. Get to know each other in a group setting, and let nature take its course. Go to public places. Go to coffee after church. Make it light. A blind date is just a beginning. It does not have to be dinner and roses.

8. Look in places where you would expect to find someone with the qualities you value. If you want someone who cares, look at the local soup kitchen and see who is volunteering on Saturday afternoons. If you want someone who is good with kids, look for a coach or a teacher or a mentor. If you want a generous guy, ask yourself: Who in your crowd has a generous spirit? Who shares his Pepsi with you without your asking? Who gives you the seat on the bus? Who goes out of his way for his grandmother or aunt? Who sacrifices his day off to work for Habitat for Humanity? Who works Sundays at the homeless shelter? Who volunteers at the Children’s Hospital as a clown? Who shares freely about himself and his needs, ideas, hopes and dreams? Who doesn’t care if his generosity is noticed or even appreciated? This is the type of man to look for.

If you want a man of faith you will be more apt to find him in church than in a bar.

If you want a man with purpose and direction in life realize he is not the type of fellow who answers “I dunno” when you ask what he wants to major in. He is not the guy on the street corner who says “Hey, I just wanna party. I don’t care about school.” This guy has his head on straight and knows where he is going and how to get there. He may be poor, or come from a broken home, but he is determined to rise above difficult circumstances. He wants to go somewhere in life. He believes he has a future beyond age 20 and doesn’t want to jeopardize his future. He has a dream beyond living at home with his parents or next week’s big party. He wants something more than being “baaad” right now. If your fellow’s highest aspiration is getting high on ice, you better look elsewhere.

If he is the guy at the office who lets everyone else do the work, and he takes the credit, watch out. Is he learning more and more in his trade? Becoming more highly skilled? Teaching others? Where is he going?

If you are looking for a man with a sense of humor, keep in mind that just because a guy has purpose and diligence in his character doesn’t mean he cannot laugh and have fun. The ability to laugh at oneself and with others (not AT others) is crucial for a good mental outlook. If a person always takes himself too seriously, he will be difficult to live with. Someone who can laugh or chuckle at the antics of a child, who can play with a dog, giggle when ice cream falls in his lap is a guy worth giving a second look. He is obviously not one-dimensional, that is, he is not all work and no play. He can relax and participate with others in activities that delight and refresh the soul. He appreciates beauty and quiet, as well as screaming on the roller coaster at the theme park. He can take a joke as well as tell one. His humor is never at someone else’s expense, but he can be clever and witty. Is your Mr. Right someone who seems to be able to have fun without drugs or alcohol to loosen him up? Can he relax socially and can talk to almost anyone? Although he has a gentle manner and is he able to be silly when it is appropriate?

If you are hanging with a bunch of complainers who only know how to gripe, maybe it is time to find some new friends.

9. Expect a human being, not someone perfect. No one is going to be everything you have ever dreamed of. Give the guy a break. You already know that you are not Ms. Perfect. He will make mistakes too. Relax a little and don’t be too picky. Allow for human frailty. Look beyond physical attractiveness. You don’t want a slob any more than he does, but he doesn’t have to be Mr. Hunk either.

10. Be patient. Rome was not built in a day. It may take some time to discover what appeals to you and why. You may make a few friends, and even break a heart or two. You may get hurt. Keep at it. There are good men out there. You simply need to know where to look.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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