Defining Mr. Right or Mrs. Right

By Chris Hammond, MS

Whether you are still single or find yourself single again, the prospect of dating can be overwhelming. There is quite a bit of advice about dating but not much about preparing to date. Deciding in advance why you are dating and what type of person you want to date, makes the decision of whether or not to date someone or how long to date someone much easier.

Why date. For some, the purpose of dating is to discover if the person you are interested in getting to know better is has the potential for becoming a long term partner. This is not about getting a marriage proposal on the first date; rather it is an acknowledgement that there is a desire for something more at some point in time. For others, dating has one purpose, to have fun. For the fun seekers, the idea of any commitment longer than one date is too much for them. Generally speaking, this is why those interested in just having fun are not good matches for those interested in long term commitments.

Don’t waste your time. If you are dating to find a partner, then wasting your time with those just having fun can be frustrating for both of you. Once you discover that your date is not interested in the same outcome, parting your ways for the time being on friendly terms is better than stringing out a relationship that will eventually end with someone feeling resentment. Either the person desiring the long term commitment will resent the fun seeker because they won’t change their mind or the fun seeker will resent the long term commitment person because they have changed their mind. However it happens, someone is hurt and this is not a good way to begin a marriage.

Decide what matters. If you are interested in a long term commitment, then deciding what matters to you in a partner is better done before you meet them. This is not a time to decide that your future partner should have blue eyes or black hair because you want kids with that combination; rather this is a time to be selective about what really matters. Fifteen years later appearances change and if you fall in love with the appearance of a person and not their intellect, character, or heart, then you will have built the foundation of your marriage on a sink-hole.

Make a list. This is the hardest part of the process, making a list of the qualities that are really important to you and compliment you in some way. For instance, if you know that you are a spender when it comes to money, then you are better off marrying a saver. If you are coming into the marriage with kids from a previous marriage, then it is essential to have a spouse that loves kids. If you like to watch weird Sci-Fi movies, then it is good to have someone who can enjoy them with you. The list should be long and as specific as possible without too much detail. For instance, writing down a general statement such as “good sense of humor” is not specific enough; rather “enjoys a dry sense of humor” is a better statement. On the other hand, too specific statements limit your prospects. This is about finding a balance.

Prioritize. Once you have your list, put your list in the order of priority in your life. A person who is an active Christian involved in the ministry of their church might have at the top of the list a person with similar characteristics. Items such as moral beliefs, value systems, desire for future children, good reputation and employability should be close to the top of the list. The bottom of the list may include appearance preferences, location, or family background. However, you may decide differently then suggested, remember this is about your desires for a mate not about someone else.

Use the list. Please do not bring the list on the first date and begin questioning the other person about the items that are important to you. This is a bit on the crazy side and is more likely to scare someone away rather than draw them closer to you. Instead, pick one or two and investigate if your date has the qualities you are looking for in a partner. Then work your list a bit at a time.
Dating with a purpose in mind and with an understanding of the type of person you are looking for in a partner, makes the process more enjoyable and less frustrating. It also saves you the heartache of spending too much time and investing too much emotional energy with Mr. Wrong or Mrs. Wrong.


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"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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