Almost every woman dreams of being swept off her feet by Prince Charming and whisked away into euphoric happiness for the rest of her days. But what happens when you’re living single and want a relationship? All your friends have these seemingly amazing relationships, are getting married, raising families…and you’re just wondering when your time will come. What have they done differently? Do they know a secret you don’t?

The good news is that there isn’t a magical formula to attracting a relationship and there isn’t any secret you’re missing out on. However, you can begin to prepare yourself for the relationship and guy you want. We’re all a work in progress and will continue to be even after we meet our person. Reflecting on my personal dating experiences, I recognize what went wrong and where my focus was off. Here are some things I’ve learned to help me better prepare for an ideal relationship:

1. True love is not a fairy tale, but relationships are a lot more challenging than a lot of people will openly share. Highlight reels on social media aren’t authentic views into what truly makes a happy, successful relationship. Make sure you are aware of the full scope of what it is you want.

2. Live your life. Take yourself on a date, go to the movies, explore your city, get involved in your community, make plans with your girlfriends. There is nothing wrong with being a homebody, but balance is key. After all, he’s not going to come knocking on your door…unless you’re crushing on Mr. Postman!

3. If you desire true commitment, you have to take control of your dating life. Be intentional and date with long-term purpose. Have real standards. A man knowing how to dress to your liking or being a certain height is irrelevant in making or breaking a relationship. There are varying levels of attraction and you should be attracted to your partner, but perhaps consider shifting your attention to different qualities. Making better choices in who you choose to date will beget a drastically different dating life.

4. Stop recycling your past. It’s your past for a reason. The goal in life is to learn from your mistakes, not repeat them and think maybe you’ll learn something different this time. Embrace the lessons learned and apply them. People who aren’t adding to your life don’t need to be part of it.

5. Keep in mind that a good man has standards as well. Just as much as you deserve him, he deserves a good woman. When men consider settling down, they want the woman they choose to be a good representation of them. What would you represent? Would he be proud to have you as a partner?

6. Change comes from within. The romanticized notion that you can make a man change is impractical. You may be able to influence changes in his life, but it isn’t your job to make him over. You’re not his mother or Dr. Frankenstein, and the sooner you realize that the better. A man must first step outside of his comfort zone to change himself. Then and only then will that man be able to contribute value in a relationship.

7. Seek ways to better yourself; there is always room for improvement. Are you shallow, impatient, or struggling with procrastination or laziness? Purpose to improve in these areas. Should you find yourself becoming complacent, define some goals and work towards them.

8. Above all, know your worth. You shouldn’t settle or sell yourself short. You are worthy of real love, being treated as a priority and with the utmost respect. Don’t compromise your standards. Be discerning, trust your gut, and don’t proceed with anything or anyone that signals the infamous red flags.

Many of us desire real love so much that we get caught up in finding the right man rather than investing that time to become the right woman. Strive to get to a place where you aren’t scared to accept that life is pretty amazing with or without a man. Allow your wholeness to shine bright and attract a true gentleman when the time is right.