Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Question of the Day: Do you REALLY know what you want in a partner?

I meet all types of single people within the community.  Attractive, educated, older, clumsy, sophisticated, energetic, bitter, eager, spiritual, shallow...you name it, and I’ve met ‘em!  A common notable theme amongst my clients, members of my database, friends and just the general tri-state single population, is that most people who want to find love, have no idea what it is they truly want in a partner!

Sure, most people claim to know what they’re looking for as they prattle off the prototypical check-list, “He needs to be good looking, successful, tall and funny.  I prefer a guy who’s been married before and knows what that’s like.  He needs to be established and career minded.  He also must love kids; he either has his own or he’s accepting of mine.  He needs to be emotionally available and to want a serious relationship that will possibly lead to marriage.”

Men; I can quote them verbatim, “First thing’s first, she’s GOT to be attractive.  I mean, c’mon I have to be physically attracted to someone.  And she needs to be fit because it’s important to me that she take good care of herself and cares about her physical fitness.  She should be relatively intelligent; I have to be able to have a decent conversation with her for God’s sakes!  Other than that, I just want someone who has no baggage, who wants to share their life with me and who doesn’t just want someone for their money.  I’m a pretty simple guy!” 

Yes, we can all do the characteristic check-list exercise denoting what looks good on paper.  But the one thing many people are missing is the next step, visualization.  What does that loving, monogamous, fulfilling relationship look like on a day to day basis?  Do you have similar interests?  Do you see one another every day, every other day, only on the weekends?  Are you two social together or do you see friends separately?  Are you affectionate with one another?  Do you have similar careers or completely different vocations?

Further, once you can envision what your romantic relationship looks like, it’s then important to ask yourself if you have the skills to create and maintain that relationship.  Are you emotionally ready and/or available for someone with needs’ of their own?  Is there room in your life for such a partner?  Are you currently dating for just social interaction or are you going on dates to find a long term relationship?

Take, for example, one of my clients whom I introduced to a gentleman she was seeing for a couple months.  The relationship was coasting along nicely with romantic dinners, evening phone calls, movies on Sunday afternoons and mid-day lunches.  One night as he was driving her home from their dinner date, he turned to her and asked, “So, what’s going on with us?  Where do you see our relationship going?” 

Like a deer caught in the headlights, she was mortified when she came up short for an answer and found herself saying, “I don’t know.”  He told her that he really liked her, enjoyed spending time with her and wanted to take things to the next level by being exclusive with one another.  Ignoring her intuitive feelings that told her differently, she acquiesced to being exclusive with him, in fear that perhaps he was the only guy that would ever come around.  Ultimately the relationship ended when it became obvious to the both of them that their feelings for one another weren’t mutual.  My client inevitably realized the importance of self awareness and taking the time to learn what she was really looking for in a partner.

If you are out there, randomly dating and have yet to explicitly define what it is you want in a relationship, it’s like going to a 31-flavors Baskin & Robbins store and telling the server to pick the ice cream flavor out for you.  This person has no idea who you are, what your favorite flavor is, if you prefer ice cream with or without nuts, if you’re allergic to any ingredients, if you’re traumatized from a bad childhood episode with spumoni ice cream, etc. 

Even though I’m not a big proponent of online dating, a terrific exercise to do is to go to one of the many dating sites on the Internet, print out a profile form and fill it out in great detail.  This not only gives you some insight as to what you’re looking for, but helps to create a dating roadmap, if you will.  You will be better able to determine some of your past relationship choices, things you would like to change in your current dating patterns, and where you would ultimately like to end up.

After suggesting this exercise to my client, she completed a profile form on Match.com and was astounded to realize that due to her recent divorce, she wasn’t even ready for a serious, monogamous relationship just yet.  It finally occurred to her, that she hadn’t fully grieved the end of her 17 year marriage and that she had some healing of her own to do before she could expect anyone else to meet her needs.  She knew she needed to make a choice:  either to continue dating casually while remaining open and honest with her dates or take a dating hiatus while focusing on herself and her own personal goals. 

While my client opted to take a small break from dating, it wasn’t long before she became more aware of what she was looking for and got back on the dating horse with a clearer vision.  As I remind many of my perplexed clients, “You are receiving confusing results in your love life, because you are confused as to what you really want.”  So go for it, you deserve it!  Order up that overloaded, triple scoop, ice cream fudge sundae in a mate!  It may not be made 100% to perfection, but it will be the best dang sundae you ever tasted because you envisioned it and asked for it!  And who cares that you gained a couple extra pounds, you were meaning to throw out those tired old skinny jeans anyways!


  1. Nicely said! You know your stuff. :)

  2. Great blog Kari! This one is right on the money.