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Let’s say you just turned 30 and you’re single, while all of your friends are married, engaged, or seriously dating someone. You’re confident, happy, and have a great social life, but you’re starting to worry there’s not anyone out there for you.

How do you continue to date in hopes of finding a serious relationship — without seeming desperate?

Everywhere you look, from movies to magazines, we’re told that being in a relationship equals being happy. The good news? That’s 100 percent not true.

You’ve probably heard it before, but the only way to put your best self out there is to first get comfortable with yourself — and your alone time.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, think about what is great about you and your life now. Being single has tons of perks — hello, taking spontaneous road trips and being the boss of your own life.

Whenever you’re feeling sad or desperate, remember those good points. It will take some practice, but almost any negative thought about being single can be switched to a good one.

What’s more: Based on my research, I’ve discovered that finding love is not about wearing the right outfit, going to the right restaurant for a first date, or waiting three days after that date to text. It’s about looking inside you and asking yourself two important questions.

Once you’ve thought about the following six areas of life, you’ll have a better understanding of what you are all about, which will also help you to identify compatibilities in a potential partner:

  • money
  • family
  • faith
  • work
  • health
  • lifestyle

How do you view each core area? Where do your values, priorities, and goals lie? Are you happy with your priorities, or do you want any of them to change?

Next, ask yourself which two areas stand out the most in terms of how you want to live your life in the future. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers here, or opinions.

From this list, you might end up being attracted to someone who looks nothing like what you thought was your “type.” I’ve found that partners who share beliefs about these values are more likely to stay together over the long haul.

Remember: A couple can share all-important life values even when they have different interests and hobbies, and even when they are of two different races, religions, or have very dissimilar social backgrounds.

Do you know what the “right person” would look like if you met them today? Most people don’t take the time to think about what they want in a romantic relationship. In order to open yourself up to a connection and not feel desperate, decide exactly what you need or want in a partner.

Defining the person you want to be with is a little like making a list before you head to the grocery store. It streamlines the process, keeps you from making random or desperate choices, and prevents you from wasting time (the last thing you want at the store — or in dating).

Grab a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. In the left, list five must-have qualities that you need in a partner. Does the person’s age or appearance matter? What about personality traits? Would you like someone sensitive, inquisitive, easygoing, adventurous, or smart?

In the right column, list five deal-breakers. Maybe it’s smoking cigarettes, being in financial debt, having terrible manners, or generally being closed-minded. These are the five things that, as hard as you try, you just can’t tolerate or allow in a partner.

When you meet new people, this list will become an invaluable tool. It will remind you to make sure your needs are being met. Instead of worrying about what your date thinks of you, as you might have done before, your list will help you to determine if that person might fit into the future you envision.

In the end, by knowing yourself and what’s important to you (in life and in a partner), you’ll feel far less desperate and anxious. When you go out with a positive attitude, you will find the right person for you — I promise they’re out there.

Terri Orbuch, PhD, is also known as The Love Doctor. Orbuch is a professor at Oakland University, therapist, research scientist, and author of several best-selling books, includingFive Simple Steps To Take Your Marriage From Good To Great.