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The Dating Mindset

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 4th 2016

While any given date is an event, dating itself frequently ends up becoming a rather extensive process. It's a good idea to start out your dating process by taking time to develop an appropriate dating mindset. Among the things to think about in forming this mindset, are what one wants to accomplish through dating, whether one's goals and expectations are realistic, and how one is being perceived by others. Getting clearer about these questions helps one to better negotiate the dating process.

Exploration vs. Partner-Seeking

An early question to ask yourself is whether you think dating should be a means to an end (of finding a lasting committed relationship) or whether dating should be more of an exploratory project you engage in to have fun and grow as a person. Both of these alternatives are worthy goals. By and large, however, most people chose to start their dating career in an exploratory mode and later evolve towards a partner-seeking mode. Knowing whether you are exploring or wanting to settle down can help you to make decisions about when to stay with a budding relationship, and when to move on to the next one.

While opposites may attract, they don't always live together well. If you are partner-seeking, you may find that taking time out early on to learn about yourself and the way your personality works will prove a valuable investment. Accurate self-knowledge can help you to better identify compatible personality characteristics to look for in your dating partners. For example, if you are an impulsive person given to making spur of the moment decisions, you may find it frustrating to be in a relationship with someone who insists on planning things out. Likewise, if you are a soft-spoken person, you may find it difficult and uncomfortable to be around someone who has a temper. Understanding how you'd like to be treated by another and what types of behavior makes you comfortable or uncomfortable helps you to know when someone is right for you or not. You can then use this information to nip uncomfortable or unfitting relationships in the bud, or to identify and invest in those relationships that make you feel unequivocally good. If you end up feeling uncomfortable around someone you've been dating, then he or she isn't "Mr/Ms. Right" and you should move on.

Just as compatible personality and behavior are important things to be aware of in a potential partner, so too are compatible goals. If you are partner-seeking and want to have children, for example, it is quite vital that you make this clear early in your dating relationship and learn whether your partner's goals are aligned with your own. If your goals are incompatible it will be hard for your relationship to thrive. Important core values to consider include your attitudes and aspirations concerning money, sex, children, marriage, religion, and career. Attempt to learn which of your goals and values you can safely and comfortably compromise on and which you can't. If you're young you may not really yet understand what values are core to you and which you can compromise. If this is the case, make the best decisions you can and don't worry about it too much. Experience will become your guide and eventually you'll figure it out. To the extent you do know your core values, don't compromise on them when you won't be able to feel okay about doing so. Take your values seriously. Don't allow yourself to get involved with someone who will ask you to seriously compromise your values.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

- kevin - Jun 12th 2008
   Well June 10, was my birthday and the woman im dating wanted to take me out to dinner! And her birthday is June 11 day after mine, so I got her a gift. And then shortly after we went to her friends house where we had some drinks talking and having a good time. But they wanted to take me to the bar but I had to work the next day so I decided to crash! So I had her take me home! Then see freaked because I passed out and didnt not (text) her to tell me when she got home! The next day i was so tired at work I only talked to her a few times......And i usaully am texting her all day. Then when I get off work, I go home and I tell her Iam going straight to sleep. So many hours later I call her and tell her I cant sleep, well for some reason shes suspicious of me. She thinks I have another woman at home. My friend was over chiling and he could voutch for me, but she wouldnt beleave. I was so depressed and crying over this, once I talked it out what happened with a freind even he said it doesnt make sence. And we supposed to go to the river this weekend. But i dont think thats happening, because if she cant trust me at work how is she going to ever trust me. But your guesses notes really explained alot.

Abt my recent dating - Asha - Dec 22nd 2007
I was not a person who go through phycological notes much. But Y'day after finishing my dating i could feel that the this is not the person i looking for to settle down in life with. i decided to quit, but i was so sad and depressed during the hrs after, Now after going through your notes  on dating and importance of evaluation of our own goals and ambitions, and abt those aspects we can compromise and not, i feel more comfortalbe, i understant very well that i should have intensionally considered all my points before going out with the person. I knew it i cannot compromise, but i was not planned to decide to quit if i cannot compromise certain important things.   Thank you very much for the information i gained through your notes.

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