Unless your staple diet consists of bamboo shoots and you live in a temple made of reeds high up on a sacred mountain, you've probably had those moments were you just wish you could find the perfect person. That special Mr. or Mrs. Right who will help you to feel complete, who will add a little more colour to your world.

And perhaps you've thought you found this person before, only to realize that they were actually in disguise and turned out to be nothing more than a neatly wrapped package of disappointment and heartbreak. But why is it that things didn't work out? Was it them? Was it you? Either way – it doesn't matter. If you don't know what you want, you'll settle for whatever life gives you. And if you settle for whatever life gives you – you may just trick yourself into believing that the next hot bodied young beauty (or hunk) who pays you some attention is the man or lady that you've been waiting for. Even if they are a little untidy around the house or don't like cats (when you love them) – but you'll change them, right? And if they don't change, you'll get used to it – because living with a quirk that you can liken to combing your brain with a cheese grater every now and again is better than being alone. And if you find yourself agreeing with that statement, please buckle up tight – the relationship journey may be a rough one.

Next time you find yourself saying "I wish I could find the right guy" or "The right woman is out there for me somewhere", ask yourself this: What do you really want? Define the right partner. You may be surprised to find that if you give this some thought you don't actually have a clear answer – most people don't. There are the usual answers - someone who's like a best friend, someone you can trust, someone who does things in the bedroom that can't legally be mentioned in this article, can whip up a five star meal in under 30 minutes and has a job that pays more than you need to never work again. Exaggerated or not, the point is, we have these character traits that we recognize as being "good". But often we only think this is what we want – these far off ideas that bad TV and romance novels have given us. Is your image of the perfect partner something that would garner a 5 star confirmation badge from society? Do you tick off the hierarchy of what is generally seen as perfect traits and allow these to overshadow the ones that are less agreeable but ultimately more important to you personally)? Or maybe your idea of the right person is an abstract image, vaguely shimmering in the far corners of your mind.

In other words – do you waste your time and set yourself up for a "bad" love life, simply because you don't really know what you want? Everyone has a different idea of the most important values and characteristics that are important to them – and each person places these values and characteristics in different orders of importance. If a guy who shows you the world and can navigate wild water rapids while building a two man tent is of number one importance to you, then why do you stick around with the overweight Halo addict who's idea of a weekend away is an 8 hour National Geographic marathon? If you want a lady who is laid back and intelligent, then why do you remain in a relationship with the drama queen with the IQ of a plank, even if she does look like a supermodel (even though "looks like a supermodel" is more number three on your list of importance than number one). And most importantly of all – if you dream of being with someone who makes your stomach flutter, who lifts your spirits just by being in the same room, who understands you on a level that's deeper than understanding, then why do you go for the "good catch" who's available, when you know that special something is probably not there.

Relationships that don't work out are not really bad at all – they show us what it is that we don't want. They allow us to recognize the signs and know when we're headed in the wrong direction with someone new. Bless the stains on your relationship parchment, they've shown you who you are and will help you to choose who you want to be. Or more accurately, who you want to be with.

Save yourself some time and figure out what it is that you choose for yourself within a relationship before throwing yourself into the next one. You wouldn't buy a car without knowing what you're getting, it's a big investment. Not as big as a relationship though, and love is supposed to be the best ride of all – so it doesn't seem quite right to settle for a relationship vehicle that takes you from A to B, even though it has a bit of an oil leak and a toilet seat where the left rear tire should be. Investing your heart, soul and energy is more important than investing in material objects – so be as picky as you want to be.

Take out a pen and paper and write down what it is you want from a relationship – write down how you would like to be treated. And once you begin, do it fast. Set yourself two minutes to jot down the traits that are most important to you – things that will make you happy. Trust, acceptance, someone who loves art, someone who relates to your need to open a soup kitchen (or to become a belly dancer) – anything at all, single words will do as they will have different meanings for each person. Why two minutes? Because relationships are about feeling, not thinking – and if you don't give yourself time to think, your subconscious mind will throw out those things that are at the top of your list. Thinking is what you do while Mr or Mrs Right walk right by and head for the nearest exit, feeling is what happens when you see them for what they are and take the chance to swoop them off their feet (and to be swooped in turn). Do not think, just write – even if you "think" you don't know what to write, do not stop – keep your head down and write, write, write.

So go for it. 2 Minutes. Write down all you can in that time. Nothing you write down can be wrong – if sentences pop in your mind that contain the words "should" or "shouldn't" in terms of what you should and should not want – be sure to put these in the blender or flush them down the loo. You want what you want and that's what will make you happy – and you don't have to settle for anything less. It's a time to be selfish. And the time limit will ensure that the more important and deeper aspects (applicable to you) will come to the fore – the length of one's nose hair and their movie preferences will most likely not make the list.

Once you've written down all that you can, take a look over the list and take 5 to 10 main elements from it – one word each. These can be applicable to you only. Maybe it's very important that the right person for you does not care that you are addicted to licking stamps – then put down "acceptance" or whatever helps you to generate that feeling that you are looking for. Now give yourself 30 seconds to put these words into an order of importance – again, don't let yourself think. Let it happen – don't second guess and shuffle them around. When ordering each one, let the first trait that you are drawn to for each progressive number stay there.

At the end of this you will find that you have a clearer image of what it is that you require from a relationship – not just simple traits, but deeper aspects that you need to have a fulfilling relationship. Now you can do some thinking – go over what you've written down and think about whether you have been looking at who you choose from the perspective of these important traits that you value. Have you been looking for a relationship based on anything at all? Have you been attracted to someone because of trait three, all the while knowing that they were void of traits one and two (which would lead to problems in the long run?). This will move you a step closer to knowing what you want. And once you know what you want – don't compromise yourself. You'll most likely find that the traits you listed are feelings, it comes down to feeling accepted, feeling good, feeling free. And feelings are individual. Love feels good, and if you're not feeling good – you're not getting what you want from your relationship. And don't ever be afraid to give yourself the chance to get what you want – particularly when it comes to love.

Being lonely isn't great – being in a relationship that doesn't make you happy is even worse. Not only because you block off the opportunity to find someone who makes you happy, but if you know that you're with the wrong person or go for anyone who's easily available – you remove this opportunity for them too. Knowing what you want gives you a sense of freedom – it frees you from the "what ifs" from the past, makes it easier to let go and gives you new eyes for the future.

Life is meant to be lived – and nothing can make you feel more alive than that feeling that you've found the perfect one for you. So know who or what it is that you're looking for, allow yourself to feel rather than think, believe that you will find this person, see the regrets from the past as the lessons that they were – and move forward into a place where your heart sings, your soul dances and life is as it should be – shared, enjoyed and fulfilling.