7 Trusted Tips for Finding Love
A research-based guide to making for making good choices next time out.
Posted January 4, 2016 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader
How do you find a new relationship? Whether you've been single for years or are only recently on the market, seeking out a compatible partner is not always easy.
Researchers haven't found a recipe for finding love, but some guidelines can help make the process more efficient. Consider the following points before setting out to find a partner. There are no guarantees in love, but a good start might help you move in the right direction.
- Do you know what you want? Are you looking for a hook-up or a spouse? Be honest with yourself and find ways to be consistent with your goal. We generally pursue short-term partners differently than we do long-term partners; the desired characteristics are different, too (Regan et al., 2000). In fact, whereas similar people tend to pair off for long-term relationships, opposites often attract for short-term flings (Amodio & Showers, 2005). This suggests that pursuing a short-term relationship as a way to find a long-term relationship isn't necessarily a good idea.
- Are you really prepared to invest? Relationships that last require investment (Rusbult, 1980). That can mean money—dates can be expensive—but also emotional investment and investments of time and energy. With such personal investment comes risk, but being vulnerable and open is essential to fostering commitment and relationship stability.
- Do you know your value as a potential partner? Knowing how desirable others perceive you as a potential partner tends to be difficult, but agreeable women and sexually unrestricted men tend to be better at it (Back et al., 2011). If you're not sure of how much you have to offer, taking a closer look could be worth it. An accurate assessment of your own mate value can help prevent wasted energy and streamline your search towards potentially interested partners.
- Have you given yourself a chance to grow? Scholars are familiar with the idea that social relationships help people grow, but recent evidence confirms that people don't necessarily need a relationship context to experience considerable self-growth (Mattingly & Lewandowski, 2014). Try something new and you build a bigger self-concept—one that is more diverse, with more abilities, perspectives, skills, and beliefs. This may help you gain self-awareness to better navigate the dating field and could make you a more interesting prospect for potential partners.
- Are you ready to show your humor? People like funny people, even if that humor is quirky and silly. Witty, positive humor is particularly helpful for pursuing long-term relationships (DiDonato, Bedminster, & Machel, 2013), whereas sarcasm or jokes at the expense of others might lower your attractiveness towards long-term partners. Potential short-term partners, however, tend not to distinguish between humor types, which means you only need to pay attention to the kind of humor you're using if you're looking for a long-term relationship.
- Will you let your friends help? Friends can be incredibly helpful when you're looking for love. They can break down approach barriers at social gatherings, making it easier for you to talk to an attractive person, or they can build barriers when you're trying not to talk to someone who is attempting to connect with you (Ackerman & Kenrick, 2009). Get your friends on your side and let them be a part of your efforts to find love.
- Can you uphold high standards for a relationship? Some people are afraid of being single, and such fear is associated with staying in unsatisfying relationships and being OK with having a less responsive, or less attractive, partner (Spielmann et al., 2013). Being single, however, can be an empowering and rewarding experience. It might be wise to hold out for a relationship that meets your expectations and elevates you to have the experiences you deserve.
It's not easy navigating the dating game, but knowing a bit about yourself and what you want can help you make good choices. Good luck!
Ackerman, J. M., & Kenrick, D. T. (2009). Cooperative courtship: Helping friends raise and raze relationship barriers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1285-1300.
Amodio, D. M., & Showers, C. J. (2005). ‘Similarity breeds liking’ revisited: The moderating role of commitment. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 817-836.
Back, M. D., Penke, L., Schmukle, S. C., & Asendorpf, J. B. (2011). Knowing your own mate value sex-specific personality effects on the accuracy of expected mate choices. Psychological Science, 22, 984-989.
DiDonato, T. E., Bedminster, M. C., & Machel, J. J. (2013). My funny valentine: How humor styles affect romantic interest. Personal Relationships, 20, 374-390.
Mattingly, B. A., & Lewandowski, G. W. (2014). Expanding the self brick by brick: Nonrelational self-expansion and self-concept size. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 484-490.
Regan, P. C., Levin, L., Sprecher, S., Christopher, F. S., & Gate, R. (2000). Partner preferences: What characteristics do men and women desire in their short-term sexual and long-term romantic partners? Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 12, 1-21.
Rusbult, C. E. (1980). Commitment and satisfaction in romantic associations: A test of the investment model. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16, 172-186.
Spielmann, S., MacDonald, G., Maxwell, J., Peragine, D., Muise, A., & Impett, E. (2013). Settling for less out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 1049-1073.