Q: How can people who are waiting for a significant other to come into their lives be happy while they wait?

A: First understand this: You should strive to be happy “while you wait.”

Second, having a significant other does not guarantee your happiness. So why wait?

The next step is to stop. Stop waiting for some time in the future to become happy, and stop waiting for someone to come into your life and do the job for you. You can and should be happy whether you are in a relationship or not. Waiting for that special someone is wasting your opportunity to be happy right now – the most important time there is!

If you are not currently in a relationship, embrace your singleness as an opportunity! This is your time to get to know yourself better. Get busy learning what you really want to know. Work on how to be your best self. Do things you love and start creating the life you dream about, even if you dream of sharing it with a partner. Doing these things will make you healthier emotionally and help you embark on a relationship for the right reasons – not to expect the other person to fill a void in your life, but to share the adventure of creating a life together.

Ask yourself why you won’t be happy until you are in a relationship. Is it because you’re lonely? Do you think you just can’t make it on your own? Do you think being in a relationship will solve your problems? Once you have answered these questions, think about whether you would you want someone else to bring you into their life for those same reasons. How would that make you feel?

After you have investigated your reasons for why you want a partner, dig deeper and decide what kind of person you want to spend time with and have a relationship with. What kind of values do you want them to have? What are you looking for in a partner? We all envision what Mr./Ms. Right is going to be like, and we are constantly setting standards and prerequisites. But often we don’t apply the same standards to our own lives. We must strive to meet the same criterion we apply to those we hope to attract.

We tend to get what we intensely and consistently focus on, so if you’re searching with all your heart for someone to save you in some way, there’s a good possibility that you will find such a person. But be careful what you wish for, because if being rescued is the foundation for your relationship, it may not be truly fulfilling for long. Chances are that, like you, your partner will expect you to fill a void in their life, too. If you’re thinking, “What can I get out of this person?” you’re engaging in a bartered relationship – “You rescue me and make me happy, then I will give back to you.” Once the other person is no longer willing or able to meet your demands, you may start to hold back your love and support because you feel you’re not getting your fair share of what you want.

Having a companion can be a blissful and wonderful thing, and most of us want this experience in our lives. So use the time while you are flying solo to practice being the kind of partner you’re looking for. Bring as much completeness and confident sense of self as you can to the dance with you.

This doesn’t mean that you have to have achieved all of your goals and lined all your ducks up in a row before you can be in a healthy relationship, but being a happy, emotionally fit person before you enter into a relationship gives you a better shot at having a lasting, happy, and successful one. And it certainly makes for a happier you right now!

ASK Loree Bischoff: Being happy while single