Before signing up for a dating site, it's become common practice to make a list of desirable qualities we hope to find in our future mates. Honesty, intelligence, and sense of humor make almost every list. Values can involve politics or religion while lifestyle choices cover everything from daily routines to food preferences to dreams for the future.

Once you have a list like this in mind (or if you already do), ask which of the qualities that you listed accurately describe you.

Why do this? Because the Law of Attraction says we can't attract anything we don't already have. That's why relationship coaches advise clients to clean up their own houses first, so to speak. Only then will you be ready to find the kind of person you want to invite inside.

If and when you decide to get into the dating game (online or IRL), focus on embodying the qualities you hope to find in others rather than picking your potential paramours apart. We've all heard horror stories from friends who ventured forth on a dating site only to get discouraged by what they encountered. One never knows whether these seekers really brought their best selves to their endeavor, but you can decide to do so right now. It's not only fair to those you will encounter, but it also demonstrates that you embody the qualities you seek.

Here are 10 ways to use an "ideal mate" list to bring your best to the dating world:

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1. If you listed courageous, don't be afraid.

Online dating is the norm in many cities in 2016. It's generally considered safe—as long as you're sensible about it. But what if you are a private person who doesn't want others to know much about you? Obviously, that's going to make things more difficult. Gather up your courage, learn to find comfort in being uncomfortable, and trust that all will be well.

2. If you listed "open," get real and reveal.

Some people compare composing a dating profile to creating your own brand. The theory is that whatever makes you most unique will also be the most attractive quality to your best audience. Personal branding requires digging deep and revealing things about yourself that speak directly to the people you hope to attract. Vulnerability is a prerequisite to intimacy.

3. If you listed "conscientious," read profiles.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many online daters barely skim profiles. Learn to look for words and phrases that suggest you and your potential date might be on the same page about whatever is most important to you. Rule of thumb: Spend at least as much time on a profile as you do on photos.

4. If you listed "deep," don't fixate on looks.

We all conjure up immature fantasies of our prince or princess based solely on pictures with great lighting, the most flattering angles, and sunny smiles. But when we meet, we don't look like those people—at least not all the time. Try looking for the sunshine beneath the exterior instead. You said you wanted deep, right?

5. If you listed "curious," ask questions.

How many times have you met a potential partner only to sit through an hourlong monologue? Don't be one of those people. Ask questions and show interest. Most of us like to talk about ourselves, but there needs to be a back and forth. If not, someone leaves feeling ignored.

6. If you listed "honest," tell the truth.

One reason some people don't trust online dating? You can say virtually anything you want in your profile. Lie about your age, post photos from 10 years ago—why not? Well, none of us wants a relationship based on lies, so set that precedent. Tell the truth online, when you meet, and the entire time going forward.

7. If you listed "virtuous," don't ghost.

This is an odd one, but it happens all the time. You meet, there's no spark, and you both sense it. Yet one or both of you suggest doing it again or keeping in touch. Then nothing happens. This is called ghosting and it's both unnecessary and unkind. Try this instead: "I'm not feeling a fit here, but I wish you luck in your search." End of story.

8. If you listed "self-assured," don't take rejection personally.

Not everyone is for everyone. That's obvious. Sometimes attraction is one-sided. So what? That doesn't need to shake your belief in yourself. People come to the dating scene with all kinds of personal baggage, so their rejection may have nothing to do with you. Let them go and get ready to bring your fabulous self to someone who will appreciate all your juicy you-ness.

9. If you listed "perseverance," stick with it.

Dating takes a lot of time. Many compare it to having an extra job. Like any job, it has ups and downs. If you are determined to find your perfect partner, you're going to have to ride the waves and stick with it. Keep your eyes on the prize. But take care of yourself along the way.

10. If you listed "generous," give everyone the benefit of the doubt—including yourself.

Dates are going to do and say things you don't like, and so are you. When this happens, be one of the generous people who forgive humans for being imperfect. Try to keep your heart open despite bumps along the way. Be kind, be gentle, and let unpleasant experiences inform you about how to better your own game. Keep being the person you want to be so you can attract "the one" perfect for you.


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