Do you ever feel lost in the dating world? Maybe you’ve had a string of disappointing dates, or you’re frustrated that every past relationship has landed you back into being single. Maybe you want to casually date and you keep finding people who are ready to get married. Or you might be looking for the “One” and your dates are looking for something casual. It’s all so confusing.
How do you navigate the dating world when people have so many different intentions? You learn how to date with purpose.
Know what you want.
Are you looking for a relationship? Or do you love your single life and just want to keep things casual? Be clear and have courage to write this in your online profile, and be clear with your dates. While we can always be surprised by love finding us when and where we least expect it, its fair to be clear with yourself and your dates about your relationship intentions.
If you aren’t sure about what you want, it might be time to get clear. Exploring your relationship history and goals in therapy, coaching, or through personal growth work can be a great way to find clarity on this.
Know who you want.
Who is your ideal mate? Its good to have an idea of this person that will rock your world, but there’s a balance you need to find between having a general idea of this partner, and not being so picky that you miss some great possibilities. A helpful way to identify who you want is to create two lists of qualities you’re looking for in a partner. One list is your “ideal qualities,” and the other is your “deal breaker list”.
Start with listing the ideal qualities you want in a partner. This shouldn’t be too superficial or too detailed. It should have some general qualities listed… affectionate, educated, into yoga, has no kids, loves to travel, good communicator, etc. Do NOT use your list to disqualify every date you have. Let it be your guide, don’t let it be your excuse to hide from every possibility. Be open to surprises, but have direction.
Then create your deal breaker list. This should have a few key deal breakers that keep you on target, no matter what. Examples include no criminal history, or someone who has a history of violence. But, this deal breaker list is yours. It might be based on a bad situation from a previous relationship that you never want to repeat. This list is something that 99.9% of the time is not compromised. The .1% is for those rare situations where everything else is so amazing and this person has done some work to overcome this deal breaker, or to make it less of an issue.
Cultivate relationship awareness.
Learn what you can about relationships. Read up on all that you can on men, women, and relationships, communication, sex, and all things related to love. Relationships are our greatest source of pain, and our greatest source of joy. You should know as much as possible before going into something that can have so much influence on your life. Knowledge is power. It will help you feel confident, aware, and prepared.
Know yourself. Finding and maintaining a healthy relationship is nearly impossible if you lack self-awareness. And by the way, this is a never-ending process. Humans are always changing, as our circumstances and our experiences are always changing, so increasing self-awareness should be an ever-present goal.
Get to know your strengths, your vulnerabilities, your desires, and your fears. The better acquainted you are with yourself, the more success you can have with relationships. Therapy, coaching, reading books, and participating in personal growth activities are helpful avenues to increase self-awareness.
Don’t be attached to the outcome.
When you go on a date, try not to fast forward into the future too much. Take it one step at a time, and focus on how this person feels to you now. What do you want to express or experience on your date? Curiosity, playfulness, flirtation, vulnerability, authenticity? Trying to stay present focused can be helpful, especially if you tend to be more anxious about the future, and finding “The One.”
Slow down and have some fun. Remember that each person you meet is in your life for a reason, as season, or a purpose. You may not know that reason until later, so try to stay open to all of the possibilities.
Know what you want, who you want, and why you want it. Your dates will be higher quality, and you won’t feel so lost in the dating world. Giving your relationships the same amount of focus that you might your health or your career will help you on your way to finding the perfect partner.
Article originally published on MeetMindful.com by Chelli Pumphrey, MA, LPC