People use two decision-making strategies -- maximizing and satisficing -- when they need to make a rational choice without knowing all of the available options, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social, cited by social and personality psychologist Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D. When dating, Nicholson says, maximizers are always looking for better options, while satisficers are aware of their needs and seek to have these met, in order to be content. Weeding out the wrong mates while dating should lead you to relationship happiness -- not relationship regret.
Distinguish between your wants and needs. Professionals at Help Guide state that "wants are negotiable, needs are not," so be clear on what you want and need in a long-term relationship. Is it important that your partner is good-looking -- which is a want -- or is it necessary that he's caring and responsible? Do you want a partner from a specific ethnic background, or do you need a mate who will be committed to the relationship regardless of cultural affiliation? Once you've determined your needs, you can eliminate partners that won't be able to satisfy them.
Get to know potential mates. Talk to potential partners on the phone and go out on dates to learn more about them. Relax when asking questions. Try not to turn your dates into uncomfortable interview sessions. This is an important component of the dating process -- psychotherapist, columnist, radio host and speaker Dr. Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. states that people often select the wrong partners because they don't ask enough questions, or don't really listen to the answers that are given.
Postpone sexual encounters. Starting a sexual relationship too soon makes it difficult to identify a quality romantic partner. There is no specific time frame to determine when it's acceptable to begin a sexual relationship with a partner -- but a premature sexual relationship encourages communication difficulties and threatens relationship satisfaction, says research released in 2010 by Brigham Young University scholars. If a potential mate insists on beginning a sexual relationship before you're ready to do so, this may indicate that he's the wrong one.
Pay attention to red flags. When getting to know potential partners, don't ignore any behaviors that are disturbing to you. If your date tells you she has problems controlling her temper; believe her. When your date is disrespectful toward others in social settings, such as servers and customer service professionals, don't expect this behavior to disappear once the two of you become an item. Furthermore, Dr. Goldsmith warns against thinking that you can change a person's behavior once a romantic relationship begins.
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- Take your time finding a suitable romantic partner. Select a mate based on healthy qualities shared between the two of you, such as honesty, mutual respect and fairness.
- Don't select a mate based on feelings of loneliness or desperation. Be sure you're not dependent on another person to make you happy; strive to share your own sense of happiness with another in a romantic relationship.
- Help Guide: How to Find Lasting Love: Dating Tips for Finding the Right Person
- Psychology Today: The Attraction Doctor: Maximize Your Chances of Picking a Satisfying Partner:
- The Friedrich-Schiller University Jena: Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice
- Psychology Today: Emotional Fitness: Getting To Know Someone is a Life-Long Process
- Live Science: Article: Delaying Sex Makes Better Relationships, Study Finds
- Foro de la Familia: Compatibility or Restraint?: The Effects of Sexual Timing on Marriage Relationships
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