Where to start when you are looking to find love? First of all, decide on whether or not you want to be dating. You probably don’t, because dating is scary and potentially hurtfull, and also a lot of work. But on the other hand, you probably want a relationship. Research shows 98% of single people ultimately would like to be in a committed relationship, and if you are reading this, you are probably part of that 98%. But still, it helps to make a conscious decision. Yes, I want to be dating. Because yes, my goal is to be in a relationship, and in order to reach that goal I have some work to do.

But before you start focussing on what you want, first look at what you need. If you find yourself needing a relationship in order to become happy, than you are probably in for disappointment. Dating is not supposed to make you happy. It’s supposed to help you discover someone you will eventually end up being happy with, yes, but at first it’s pretty much going to make you miserable. Miserable with deciding who is best for you, with dealing with your fears and failures and your anxiety of rejection. Starting a relationship, if done well, is extremely confrontational. Are you up for a challenge?

If the answer is ‘yes, bring on the adventure’, than there’s a second question to ask. What do you need from the other person in order to be in a happy relationship? It’s much like going shopping or looking for a job in a way. When you have decided you want to reach something, you sit down and make a list. A list of needs, a list of wants, a list of what matches you and who you would match with. Nothing wrong with making a list, but similar as in shopping or looking for a job, it has to be a realistic list.

A realistic list is a list of wants and likes that can actually be found. If only for 80%. When looking for a job you are probably happy with a job that matches what you want for 80%, so why not be happy with a similar match when it comes to dating? So you sit down and write a list, mainly of non-negotiables. Be sure those are characteristics, not outward appearance criteria which do not make much sense in the long run anyway.

When you have your list, you get to the third step. Let a few good friends who love you review your list. Let them be critical, ask questions about your list and give you feedback. Let them help you scratch most of it, so that you have 10 items on it at most. A longer list will only be in your way.

With your definitive list in hand go online, go to meetings, conferences, go to church, go to parties, and start meeting actual people! Dating is all about meeting face-to-face, in real life. Searching for a match online is not dating, it’s merely figuring out your options, just as searching for a job is not similar to applying for a job let alone showing up for a job interview.

To date is to know. To meet is to know. To encounter, to check in real life, is to figure out whether or not… Now wait. It’s not about finding out whether or not to marry this person. Your only job on a date is to figure out whether or not you want to go on a second date with this person, and maybe a third date. More next time!

Dating – the Basics