When you’re determined to find that special someone, you shouldn’t go in blind. Take some time to really determine what it is you’re looking for and make a list. Above all else, don’t limit yourself and date with an open mind.
Visualizing your ideal partner and the relationship you want is a great exercise to help you do this. Close your eyes and picture your ideal partner. Engage all your senses. What does he or she look like? What does their voice sound like? When you kiss, how do you feel? Are your friends and family around? How does he or she interact with them? Try this visualization exercise a few times until the picture becomes clear, then take out a piece of paper and make a list of the most important characteristics of this partner.
List 15-20 qualities that mean something to you. What values and attributes does this person have? Look over your list and separate your “deal breakers” from your “ideals”. Deal breakers are the traits that are non-negotiable, like finding a partner who wants children or is of the same religion, for example. Ideals are more about the attributes you’d prefer, such as ambitious or tall. By prioritizing which qualities are important and which are ideal, you’ll discover what you’re absolutely unwilling to accept and where you’ve got some flexibility. HOWEVER, do not limit yourself so far that your list is completely unrealistic. Give yourself some wiggle room. If you find that your list is 90% deal breakers and 10% ideals, try again.
As you are making this list, ask yourself what has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t. Here are some great questions to consider:
- What kind of men/women have I been attracted to in the past?
- Are there common themes among the people I’ve dated?
- Do these people have personality characteristics in common?
- Are they similar in physical appearance?
- How have my past relationships ended and why?
Answering these questions can help you get into the right frame of mind and make more informed choices as you enter the dating scene. The better you know yourself, your past, and your preferences, the better the process will be.
Again, I want to emphasize the importance of knowing yourself, but also not limiting yourself. Here are my top tips to consider as you are generating your “deal breaker vs. ideal” list and how to tackle those tough questions.
- Before you start dating again, think about the past and ask yourself what core values are most important to you in a partner. Ignore what you want physically and focus only on personality characteristics and traits that matter most.
- Don’t create deal breakers that are so ridged that you don’t allow yourself to explore new people or new ideas.
- For men: if you’ve only dated younger women and you aren’t in a lasting, healthy relationship, clearly this route isn’t the way to go for you. Open your mind and consider someone your own age. They probably have a similar background as you and are in a similar place in life; overall they are just more relatable. There may be a woman your own age who could make you very happy. Wouldn’t it be worth the trip outside your comfort zone to find out if the relationship could work? I say absolutely yes.
- For women: don’t set a height minimum. You may be ruling out your dream guy just because he’s 2 inches shorter than your ideal, but he’s perfect in every other way—how silly is that? Give the 5’9” guy a chance, at the very least a happy hour. I promise, it’ll be worth the trip outside your comfort zone if you really hit it off.
- Don’t put people in a box. It is important not to group people together in any way. Treating people as individuals is critical to success in dating and in life. So you find out the guy you are meeting for a date is not your typical choice of white collar corporate America—who cares? Try it out, you may be pleasantly surprised.
- Don’t rule people out based on their profession or your perception of their socio-economic status. You have no idea where people are coming from, so get to know them first. Isn’t personality, chemistry, and the way they make you feel more important at the end of the day? If not, reconsider what’s important to you.
- It’s time to experience meeting different kinds of people. Get out of your own head and have some fun.
Remember: your past relationships didn’t work out for a reason, so go ahead and try something new! You have nothing to lose.