It’s completely possible to date smarter. In this article, you will learn the best tips from a relationship therapist to stop wasting time and date smarter.
Smarter Dating Requires Skills
When you are learning to date smarter, you must develop a few skills. These skills are related to being mindful of your authentic needs as well as managing any dating anxiety you may have.
When you date more intelligently, you view dates from a balanced perspective. It’s ok to have emotions such as anxiety that you won’t find “the one,” or you’re being too picky. It’s human to have distressing emotions. At the same time, it’s important to approach dates from a logical perspective.
Balancing Your Emotions to Date Smarter
When you balance your emotions with logic, you view each date differently than you currently may. If you have dating anxiety – or burnout – it’s easy to let your emotions blind, you to the reality of your date.
If you have anxious attachment, you may be scared that you won’t be liked. On the other hand, if you’re burnt out from dating, you may approach dates with too much skepticism to truly connect.
Date Smarter Tip #1: View Dating as an Assessment Process
To date more effectively, it’s important to consider the early stages of dating as an assessment phase. During those early dates, it’s too soon to tell if you and another person will be a good match. That’s why you must take time early on to assess if they can successfully fit into your life long-term.
When you approach dates from a place of assessment, you are in a balanced middle ground. You allow yourself to have cautious optimism knowing only time spent talking and connecting with your dating partner will let you know if it’s a viable long-term match.
How to Assess Your Compatibility Together
While you are getting to another person, especially for the first 3-5 dates, you are giving yourself a chance to discover if you are compatible.
Questions you will want to ask yourself to determine compatibility include:
- Do your visions for the future align?
- Do you enjoy similar lifestyles?
- Are your life goals compatible?
For example, if you want to be a digital nomad and your date wants to settle in their hometown, you’re probably not a great long-term match. Or if you want children and they don’t, it’s not a viable partnership.
If you are trying to date smarter to find a life partner, you need to consider different things than if you just want to have fun. When you want to find a long-term match, you must find someone whose life goals, and values, align with yours. If you don’t consider these things immediately when you are getting to know someone, you are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment down the road.
Date Smarter Tip #2: Know Your Non-Negotiable Needs
The best assessment tool for dating in a smarter way is knowing your non-negotiables needs. Your non-negotiable needs are those things you need no matter what to feel like you truly found your person. These are the things that no matter how much you may try to deny them, you truly need to feel happy and secure in a relationship.
Getting clear on your non-negotiable needs allows you to identify what are true deal-breakers for you. While you may prefer a partner who is a certain height or has a certain income level, you may notice that these aren’t the most important things to you. Instead, you may notice that you truly need someone who is trustworthy or kind.
How to Identify Your Non-Negotiable Needs
Your non-negotiable needs includes 3 qualities you need in any relationship to feel safe and happy. These may be having people in your life who value mental health for example.
Next, you have a few more non-negotiable needs that exist in your romantic/sexual partnerships to feel safe and satisfied. You may need all the people in your life to be honest, for example, but you only need a dating partner/spouse who is monogamous.
One of the best ways to know your non-negotiable needs is to consider the areas in which you’ve been dissatisfied in other relationships. Maybe your dad was quick to anger so you realize you need a partner who values peace. Take some time to journal if needed about areas that have been upsetting in other relationships as this will reveal your needs.
To simplify this process, I’ve created a worksheet to help you identify your non-negotiable needs. I’ll send it free to you right to your inbox:
Date Smarter Tip #3: Radically Accept Your Non-Negotiable Needs
When you identify your non-negotiable needs, it’s a natural tendency to try to judge or minimize them. You make think that you don’t really need these things to try to build a relationship with someone you desire. For example, if one of your non-negotiable needs is to get married, but you meet someone you like who doesn’t want this, you may try to overlook your non-negotiable need.
To date smarter, you must learn to radically accept your needs. This means to honor the truth that these needs exist whether you may want to honor them or not. Acceptance of your needs is crucial because denying or judging them doesn’t make them go away. It just leads to internal conflict and relationships which ultimately are unsatisfying or end.
Date Smarter Tip #4: Be Willing to Walk Away ASAP
The best way to date smarter is to honor your non-negotiable needs as quickly as possible. When you go on dates, keep your non-negotiable needs in mind to assess long-term compatibility. To ensure you feel authentically satisfied in a relationship, you must have all your non-negotiable needs met.
There are potential partners out there who can meet your basic 6 non-negotiable needs. Of course, many dates may not meet these needs. But when you date smarter, you are willing to accept reality rather than negotiate it. Instead of saying to yourself that 3,4, or 5 out of 6 is good enough, you must be willing to honor your needs fully. This means no longer dating a person as soon as you know they don’t meet even one of your non-negotiable needs.
The Consequences of Not Honoring Your Basic Needs
If you don’t honor your non-negotiable needs asap, your relationship will ultimately end, or you will be unhappy long-term. This may sound extreme but as a couples’ therapist, I’ve witnessed couples choose to break-up or divorce because they failed to honor these non-negotiable needs when they were dating. This may be for reasons such as one person needing children and the other not wanting them or for one person wanting to settle elsewhere and the other needing to stay near family. Neither person is bad, or wrong, for these needs. Rather failing to honor them led to the ending of their relationships for true irreconcilable differences.
Other times, people stayed together but were miserable. This is because one person had a non-negotiable need chose to look at their reality codependently. Instead of radically accepting their partner couldn’t meet their needs, they stayed and fixated on changing and controlling their partner. Of course, this is neither healthy nor loving for either person.
Date Smarter by Assessing Before Committing
Save yourself a lot of heartache, and date smarter, by looking at dating as a process of ensuring your basic needs can be met. If they cannot meet your basic needs, this relationship ultimately isn’t a viable option for a long-term healthy relationship. When you honor your authentic needs, you eliminate distractions to ensure you can find your best partner as quickly and smoothly as possible.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
She is currently working on her book, Self-Love Made Possible: The 5-Step Guide to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy and Become Your Own Best Friend. To be notified of its release, please join the waitlist here.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on Instagram.
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