DATING FOR KEEPS -- DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

by Lillie Buterbaugh, Senior Matchmaker and Stylist at The LDS Matchmaker 

Whenever a client comes in to meet with one of our Dating Strategists, one of the first things that happens is a discussion of what exactly the client is looking for in a partner, in a relationship and in life.

Surprisingly, most singles haven't given those things much specific thought.  They are very much like Alice in Wonderland during her exchange with the Cheshire Cat:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where -' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.”

-  Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Having a direction and a plan is one of the most important components to making progress in life.   

The same is true in dating and seeking a spouse.

If you don't have an idea of what you're looking for, sure you'll date, but not with much success. The fear is that you’ll date some incredibly high caliber people who you'll allow to slip away simply because you had no idea what you were looking for.

Take a second and do a quick internal assessment. Do you know what you're looking for? What are the qualities and characteristics that you hope for in a future spouse? What do those qualities look like in real life? If kindness is on your list, what does that look like in day-to-day interactions? Do you know how to identify it?

Here are four insights to help you understand this process. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has their own unique set of criteria.

1.     IDENTIFY YOUR CORE VALUES

These values are at the heart of your needs and are not likely to change. In the LDS world, this includes looking at how you live the gospel and what faith means in your life.

Is church attendance every Sunday a must for you? Do you want to have children? How much do you value family? How do you handle money?

After you've identified your core values, look for similar values in the people you date.

Focus on your top three values. You’ll likely not find someone who meets everything on your list. Be flexible and accept that many things are a work in progress.  

If your top three values are commitment to living the gospel, a healthy lifestyle and putting family first, it is likely that finding someone with those qualities will ultimately be willing to embrace your love of travel even if they don’t currently. 

2.     REFLECT ON THE PEOPLE YOU ENJOY MOST AND BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOU

This will give you an idea of the kinds of qualities that you’d be happiest with in a life-long partner.

What qualities do these people have? Are they funny, honest, adventurous, serious, ambitious or stable?  How do these qualities show up in day-to-day interactions? 

Actively recognizing desirable qualities in those around you will help you select potential partners who possess these things in the dating process.  Focusing on what you do want rather than worrying about what you don’t want actually draws those positive qualities and people into your life. 

3.     UNDERSTAND YOUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS, AND RECOGNIZE SPOUSES CAN'T FILL EVERY NEED

Ultimately, our happiness comes from within us and it's not fair to expect another human being to make us happy. Realize that you are responsible for enjoying your life.

It’s realistic to expect a husband or wife to bring a large measure of happiness and fulfillment into your life. However, friends, family, coworkers etc. can and will complete the picture and fill in your emotional holes or share other interests with you. Everyone in your social circle can and should enrich your life as you do theirs. 

4.     DO PERIODIC CHECK-INS

Once you've started dating someone special, mentally check-in with yourself on a monthly basis to be sure this person has the things that you're looking for.

Check in especially at the three-month mark when you begin to think more logically rather than emotionally about someone you’ve been seeing regularly.

Be honest with yourself. You can change some things about a person, like their clothing or hairstyle, but you can’t change another person’s core values. If they don't have some crucial things that you know you need in a spouse, be brave, and stick to your plan to find the right person you can enjoy spending eternity with.