Most people make dating harder than it should be jumping without looking or chasing shooting stars. Here are some practical tips to focuses on what can work when seeking a serious relationship.
Figure Out What You Want
All of our ex-partners have us in common. Whether they were good or bad for us, joy or heart break, we picked them. Look back on the type of person you have chosen in the past, what you offered each other and how healthy the relationship was.
It comes down to just a few things. Your stuff, their stuff, what support you offer each other and how well you meet each other’s needs. We all have our stuff, try to grow and mature as time goes by, compassionately learn from your experiences, be kind to those you hurt. Forgive those who hurt you. Try to at least unpack your baggage and go through it before you begin a new relationship. What did you learn from your last relationship, the personality type you selected, how did you communicate and resolve conflict?
It comes down to selecting someone who is good for you, cares about you, shares a common vision and is willing to resolve issues in a supportive way. Seek someone who is healthy for you.
I know someone is right for me when I feel they are, “on my team.”
Besides looking for an emotionally mature mate, ask what you want in your life for the next 3-5 years or more. What would make you happy? Try to narrow it down to just one or two things. Be specific beyond “I want live with a nice person” focus. Do you want to finish school, build your career, start a home and family, travel, find a workout partner, etc. What one thing?
Which is your most important emotional need, connection, security or status. Which love language do you speak? praiser, receiver, service, connection, lover.
Say to your self, “I want my mate to bring me this …. to my life.” Then you have your answer. Seek your truth. The point is everyone wants their new best friend, you have to look deeper than that to what makes you happy, be specific. Do you work as well so you have a lot to offer too.
Put Yourself Out there
Don’t over do it but don’t sit at home waiting for the single postman to ring twice. I met the mother of my children at the grocery store. It can be just being open to what the universe brings. Look nice and be cheerful when you head out of the house for the day.
Online dating can bridge space and time. Join a paid dating service which has more serious people. Some local services will actually make a new match for you each month based on their getting to know you in person.
Read our guide to online dating here. Maybe consider avoiding the free sites with people less invested in a serious relationship. The benefit of online dating is that if you look carefully, you can find others who are also in a relationship building space and learn something about them before you select someone to meet. Search for key words of what you are seeking in a partner, cooking, camping, gardening, animal lover. It gives you more control and puts you in the driver’s seat.
Seek activities you are interested in. If you want a cultural mate go to the theater and nonprofit events you support. Get involved in a campaign you are passionate about. If you want an activity partner, join the local biking or hiking club; cooking, take cooking classes and shop at the local organic co-op. You will find like minded people in areas you are interested in. A big change might be to move to a part of the country that resonates more with you and will have more like minded people and activities you are passionate about.
Select Someone Who is Healthy for You
This is a time to get it right. The first thing I want to offer, it be as healthy for someone as you expect of them. If you want good communication, give it, have weekly check ins, put the right system in place to make what you want happen. If you have issues, we all do, try to grow beyond them this time. Get help if you need someone to talk to or a support network. Ask yourself why did the last relationship(s) end, how responsible were you?
Don’t spend forever over thinking a past break up. Just decide what system you would have put in place to try to prevent the breakup. If your mate has issues out of your control, let it go and move on to something better for you.
Be as Attractive as You Want You Mate to Be
You attract as you are. My preference is to eat a healthy organic vegetarian or vegan diet and really exercise at least 3 times a week. Today I rock climb 4 to 5 days a week, carry a 35 pound pack up 400-500′ (120–150m) to get to the base of the local crag. Followed up with hot yoga every couple weeks in the summer and more in the winter to stay flexible. High on the winter wish list is skate skiing and telemarking. I should add learning to surf for good measure. You are in the right shape when can outperform anyone 10 years younger than you. The healthiest people I know are my vegan friends in Telluride, Colorado. They always seem to be waiting for me at the bottom of the bump run, are 20 years older than I am, and I have been skiing for 43 years, now that’s healthy.
Healthy is attractive and smart is sexy.
To be out done though, my good friend Charlie is 84 years old and has been an active builder and rancher for over 60 years. If you want a barn or a cottage, he can build it for you today. You need you engine rebuilt he can do it. No one is more upbeat, has better stories or more twinkle in their eyes. Charlie was married for 57 years until his wife passed a few years ago. He has known his new girlfriend since he was four years old. They had not spoken in over 50 years, she called him. Healthy and brains are always sexy.
You Only Get One Chance
Do it right and focus on your relationship with partner. Take commitment, communication, working things out and honestly seriously. Especially early on, you get no do-overs, if you withdraw or interrupt the flow you probably won’t get a chance.
Sometimes, it is hard to shift from the single, “I can do what I want” to the I am now in a relationship mindset. You have a another person’s needs and life to integrate with yours. Be sensitive to their needs even if they are not putting it out there. Have weekly or monthly check-ins especially for the first year until you really know each other and your are solid. Everyone has a weakness or trigger, work to understand each other’s hopes, dreams and fears. Sometimes you have to do more than just be there, listen, adapt but honor your own boundaries too.
Don’t avoid putting your needs out there and ask for adjustment to make yourself comfortable. If someone is doing something that does not meet your needs, there is probably a motivation or history behind it. Use this as an opportunity to get to know each other better. Explain not only your need but why it is your need. Try this, “I have this need because when it is not met, I feel this way.” It is easy to leave someone for not meeting your needs but the burden may be on you to clearly communicate your needs in the first place. If it is important and it did not get through the first time, try again. If you are ready for a serious relationship and truly care for your partner, you will be able to do the easy and the uncomfortable work.
As long as you know what will make you happy and you make reasonably good decisions you are more than half way there. Beside patients, the last important part is be practical with who you choose to develop a relationship with and what type of person you are seeking.
Here is a short checklist to keep things practical:
- Are both of you available? Maybe don’t date someone who is recently separated. We all need time to heal after big breakups.
- Is the relationship balanced? If you are not both investing about the same in each other, consider moving on.
- If long distance, can either party relocate? If they have kids in school or share custody with their ex, maybe you will have to move there or vice versa.
- Do they offer what you are seeking? If you want to buy a house together but they do not work, look elsewhere.
- Have you done your work? If you still have some baggage to unpack, do so before you have someone invest deeply in you. If your relationships tend to end the same, figure out why, talk to your therapist to help unlock the key to avoid a repeat in the future. To get true honesty and growth, maybe have the courage to include your ex in a couple sessions. Otherwise, you are just getting one side of the story. Strive to be friends with your exes, its good karma.
- Have you been honest? If you have a challenge or are even afraid you might have one, tell you partner up front so you can work on it together. Don’t surprise them with it later.
- Are you focusing too much on chemistry? The honeymoon period ends at some point, make sure you have enough in common to make it for the long-term. If you love each other dearly with great passion, maybe add additional communication or checkin steps to ensure your needs are met and conflict is resolved easily.
- Have you chosen someone functional that can meet your needs? If not, take a step back and talk about each other’s needs together.
- Are you in this together? Do something today to make your mate happy.
Moral of the Story: and They Lived Happily Ever After
The relationship that has the best chance of long-term success is the one that is most practical in the first place. Make your goal to have one 35–50 year relationship instead of 35 more relationships. Make the right choices. Have fun and create new memories together.