Three Tips for Finding Your Ideal Relationship

By Rachel D. Miller, MA, AMFT

By Rachel D. Miller, MA, AMFT

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.

Observe others.

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.

3 Common Mistakes of Online Dating

By Caitlin Nelson, LMFT

By Caitlin Nelson, LMFT

A few years ago, Aziz Ansari came out with a book dedicated to understanding the world of online dating. Here are a few of the common online dating mistakes he outlines in Modern Romance:

1. Messaging too much before meeting

The only way to know if you truly connect with someone is to meet them face-to-face. The desire to continue texting to see if you’re a good fit is well-intentioned, however, it can cause you to lose interest in the person before actually meeting them, or them in you. It also cannot replace the first impression your brain makes when meeting someone. Send a few messages and then set up a time to meet.

2. Dismissing people too early

The seemingly endless options through dating apps are great, until they aren’t. Having too many options can actually cause us to become more picky or incapable of making a decision at all. We adopt the mindset that there is always someone better and the little quirks that we may have grown to appreciate in someone become the reason we swipe left. Rather than dismissing someone for a minor difference, try investing in a few dates before making the decision to call things off.

3. Ghosting

When we decide we are no longer interested in someone, there tends to be three options of breaking the news: pretending to be busy, saying nothing, or being honest. Out of the three options, saying nothing was agreed to be the least preferable option when on the receiving end, and being honest was the first. However, most people reported using the “pretending to be busy” option and the “saying nothing” option when they needed to break the news to someone. Silence, better known as ghosting, creates situations where people are no longer accountable for their part in interactions and self-doubt and frustration take over. Remember that there is another person on the other end of the screen and hold yourself accountable in your interactions.

Back From the Honeymoon.....Now What?

By Karen Focht, LMFT

By Karen Focht, LMFT

There is so much time and energy that goes into planning a wedding.  Although this process can be stressful, it also comes with feelings of excitement and exhilaration.  After all of those countless hours of planning your big day comes and goes in a matter of moments! 

Through both my personal and professional experience over the years, I have seen the joyful heightened state of a couple experiencing their wedding and honeymoon, and then the quick jolt back into the reality of day to day life.  How do we keep that sweet honeymoon glow as we transition back to life as a now married couple?  Here are a few tips to consider.

1.     Tap into new interests:  Make a list with your partner to identify new interests to peruse together as a couple.  This could include a class on cooking, knife skills or improve, just to name a few.

2.     Get connected to other strong couples:  Creating a positive support network which includes other couples can strengthen your relationship’s foundation and offer additional support through challenging times that may come up in the future. 

3.    Explore your city:  Create time out of the ordinary with one another.  Visit a museum, check out a new hotspot, or spend time outdoors in your neighborhood

4.     Check In:  Carve out intentional time each week to sit down and connect around your relationship.  What are your strengths as a couple?  What are the challenges you face and how can you work together to improve upon these challenges?

5.     Seek additional support:  Therapy is not only important through the challenging times, but can also be tremendously helpful to continue to strengthen relationships while they flourish.