If you’re in the dating game, I’m going to guess you have a list of things you’re looking for in your perfect mate. In fact, I will bet you have a few lists, even if they are just mental ones. The problem with these lists is too often they focus on qualities or characteristics that you either want or don’t want to be present in the individuals you date. You might want someone who is intelligent, well-groomed, has a good job or built like Jason Momoa. You may refuse to date someone who watches NASCAR, has poor hygiene, or is divorced. While I understand how and why we develop these lists, they fail to touch on the things that people truly want in and from a relationship. These lists might actually be keeping you from the person who could bring you the most relationship fulfillment.
When I work with individuals who feel like they just can’t win the dating game, I suggest they toss their lists. Instead I ask them to contemplate how they believe they would feel in a relationship that was deep and meaningful for them. I ask what would need to be present in the relationship, not the person, for them to feel safe, secure, and connected. This new “ideal relationship list” can be challenging so here are suggestions to get you started.
Start with what you don’t want.
Many find it easier to talk about what they don’t want rather than what they do in a relationship. After a few failed courtships, focusing on what to avoid rather than what to find feels like a more reliable endeavor. Mind set and focus can greatly impact your dating experience. When all the focus on is on making sure this new one isn’t like the last three bad ones you risk missing the potential positives.
This is an exercise I learned from Law of Attraction expert and author, Michael Losier. Whether you buy into all the hype around the Law of Attraction or think it’s bogus, this exercise repeatedly creates a shift for the singles and couples I see. Start by taking time to list the things you know you do not want in your ideal relationship. Then one by one, change the wording to figure out what you do want. For example, if you know that you don’t want a partner who takes you for granted, shift that to, “I want to be with someone who appreciates me.” This change in language may not seem like it would matter, but words have the power to change your day to day experiences and expectations. When you focus on what you’re looking for, rather what you’re trying to avoid it becomes easier to recognize it when it appears.
Examine the past.
As challenging as it can be to find the good in failed relationships, it is important to do so. It can be key to determining your needs. If your last partner was attentive and affectionate, even if only in the early stages, and that contributed to feeling loved and appreciated, you know those are things you desire in future relationships. Past relationships are incredible opportunities for learning and growth, if we choose to view them in that light.
We all have those couples we think are perfect. The ones we watch and say “I want what they have.” The question is, do you really? Do you know what it is about their relationship that you admire? I urge you to spend some time with those couples, observe and talk to them. Figure out what it is that makes them work or what they have that you feel you haven’t yet. You might be surprised at what you find.
No relationship is perfect, but we each have an ideal. If you don’t know what yours looks or feels like, how can you hope to find it? A partner can have all the qualities you think you’re looking for, but the relationship can still feel disconnected and unfulfilling. Get familiar with what you need and desire in a relationship. Know your ideal.