Finding and being with a mate can be one of the best parts of life. Rationality often does not always apply because so much of finding a connection rests on intangible factors. Yet there are some things you can consider.
Ways to find mates
Of course, similar to job searching, getting connected through others can be a good option. Getting out on the town works for some. Activities that you enjoy or support could be a worth a try-a sport, a class, volunteering. Online dating enables a wider pool, specific searchable criteria, and endless possibilities, albeit challenging in its own ways. The sites vary by function, user population and demographic, stated and practical purpose, and more. It is easy to scan constantly but harder to dig deeply. The sheer volume of profiles and messages can be overwhelming. Taking breaks from using the sites can be healthy. It is a bit like being in a giant shopping mall all the time where it is hard to turn away from the onslaught of stimulation and possibilities. Reviewing options with a friend can be fun-at least you can laugh together at the sheer bizarreness of it all. Batching functions can help: One day search possible matches only, another day send messages out, and once you have set up a few dates, hold on further searching. Or anything that helps lend a sense of order to the process.
Here are some factors to consider in a serious partner. Each individual is different-some may have deal-breakers, others may not. Of course it is not an exact science. Every two people are unique. Yet it is worth thinking whether core lifestyle preferences and goals are aligned.
Cultural. Are you from similar backgrounds? If not, are there any obvious differences that could cause tension, such as approaches to gender roles or working outside the home? Do you feel comfortable around each other’s families and friends?
Financials. Do you have similar lifestyle preferences? Is one a bigger spender or saver than the other? Is one from a more advantaged background than the other? Does this impact how you think about money and working? If you earn or have more, are you comfortable being the primary contributor?
Behavior. Is he or she good to you, your kids (if you have any), your friends? Kind, loyal, helpful? That counts for a lot. Do you connect well and have fun together? When difficult topics come up, does the dynamic work well?
Vision. Where do you want to go as a team? If you want different things-one prefers five acres in a rural location, the other a jet-setter lifestyle in cities-aligning to the same path and making joint decisions may be hard. Granted, preferences can change, but it helps to be roughly on the same page if you are going to try to go there together.
Schedule. Will your jobs and lifestyles enable you to see each other enough? While this may change over time, it can be hard on couples when they work opposite days or shifts. From waking each other up when the other most needs rest to not having time to connect and do things together, opposite schedules can take a toll on a relationship. Plenty of doctors, nurses, and countless others who work odd shifts manage to have healthy home lives. Part of the success may be in how you then choose to spend free time when you have it.
Consider location. Seeking and finding a partner is a major part of life. It is perhaps taboo to talk formally about how to do it and how to optimize chances of success. Partners can make life more wonderful, or harder. They can come and go. We can spend disproportionate amounts of time trying to figure out how and why to get it right. Given the weight most of us give partnering, it is worth equal consideration within the framework of career and lifestyle choices.
It is reasonable to consider the pool of potential partners in possible job locations. It is one of many important factors. Places have major cultural differences as well as varied demographics. While there are exceptions to every generalization, it makes sense to consider setting yourself up for conditions that maximize the chances of desired outcomes. Yes, you could date long distance and eventually move to be together. You can meet the one guy in your town whom you are compatible with and have sparks. But there is no shame in being thoughtful and strategic about the pool. Researching, asking locals, friends or others, may yield good insights.
Metrics. Are there a lot of singles in the location? In smaller towns, there just might not be many eligible singles. How is the competition-is there a high gender ratio of desirable singles in your pool?
Values and spirituality. Is a set of values or certain religion critically important to you in a partner? If so, does the location contain a sizable population of people oriented in a similar way, or none at all? Do any indicators signal alignment of values that you hold dear? Adequate conditions for success should be a minimum baseline. If you have a very open mind about spiritual affiliation, this is not a concern. I have observed that most people do have conscious or unconscious preferences, though, often grounded in a desire for shared values.
Culture and lifestyle. Do you like partners who wear suits, like urban pursuits, and may highly value traditional success? In the U.S., try New York or another East Coast city. Do you like partners who are more laid back, perhaps outdoorsy, and entertain dreams of “living off the land”? The mountain states and Northwest are full of them. These factors may not be deal-breakers, but can help sustain a connection.
Relationship tools. By way of resources on communicating in relationships, the books by Julie and John Gottman are excellent. They base advice on real-world research and teach how to put it into practice. Living out the techniques is easier said than done, but well worth the effort. Find their books and other excellent resources here.