By: Chris Anderson Psy.D.

Dating is just one aspect of the larger mating process and mate selection process that occurs with all humans. Most people are driven to engage in the quest to find a partner for intimacy and perhaps eventual reproduction. Once couples get beyond flirting and muster the courage to go out on a date, the courtship process begins. Couples often display and even exaggerate their best qualities in an attempt to lure and endear themselves to their prospective mate. At the same time, dating sets the stage for exploring and assessing the other person. Much like an experiment, or trial, it allows each party to examine, study, and learn more about each other to determine if they may be the “right person” that you feel is suitable for a long-term relationship. Most of the evaluation process occurs through countless conservations and interactions, which affords each person the opportunity to come to know the real person. As the initial courting transitions into an exclusive dating status, there is more security and less fear of losing the person. This sense of stability often causes people to let down some of the guards and this is when we get an even more accurate picture of who they may be committing themselves to.

How Do You Know if They are the One?

There are a number of variables that people are consciously and unconsciously assessing during the dating process. Some are obvious deal breakers and others may quite subtly tip the scales. Blatant behaviors such as anger outbursts and drinking problems can make the decision quite simple. Other factors may have to be weighed out over time. If a partner tends to dominate the conversation, not listen well, or follow through on commitments over a long period of time, this could sour long-term interest. Most people seek safety in a relationship, meaning they want to feel physically, mentally, and emotionally safe. They want to feel heard and supported, not judged or ridiculed. Trust is also a critical foundation for most people. They want honesty, trustworthiness, and dependability. Other factors such as religious, political, or social beliefs are quite important to some but not deal breakers for others. Commonalities in vision, life goals, ambitions, and perspectives are all part of the assessment process. The dating process is ideal for assessing if they will be the right person for you.

How Critical is Compatibility?

Research studies have often found that one of the most consistent variables in compatibility is each partner’s willingness to support each other’s goals and dreams. Coming together to help each other actualize what is important to each other seems to be a strong determining factor in a couple’s compatibility. Other things that enhance compatibility are strong communication skills and the ability to work through and resolve conflict without resentment forming, sharing similar values, being willing to own up to mistakes, and being open to your partner’s influence and suggestions. People who are stubborn, inflexible, and have to have things their way tend to lose their appeal quickly. Accepting and appreciating each other’s quirks and flaws is also important. A shared sense of humor and understanding also helps cement a connection. Lastly, assortative mating is a well-studied and documented theory that shows that couples are likely to last if they are roughly equivalent in attractiveness, intelligence, and other qualities.

Why Can’t I find Someone?

Some people find themselves in an endless revolving door of relationships, never finding what they are looking for. There can be any number of variables at play if you are a serial dater and seem unable to settle down and commit. In many instances, there may be some self-sabotaging that is occurring. Some people are simply too guarded and cannot seem to let down their defenses and allow someone to get to know them. Others have been burned before and find themselves fearing intimacy and getting hurt again and either remain guarded or bail before they risk getting hurt. Some people have unrealistic expectations and are looking for the perfect person that simply does not exist. Some struggle with low self-esteem and do not feel they are worthy of another person and essentially disqualify themselves from the relationship. Still, others are too rigid and controlling and end up driving away good candidates.

If you want help assessing relationship patterns and history, feel free to contact IPC so you can schedule an individual consultation with one of our providers so we can help discuss treatment options. Please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete a thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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