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7 Keys to Finding a Committed Relationship

6. Don't fear ending a connection that doesn't meet your needs.

Key points

  • If you’re seeing someone and it's painful, don’t stay involved with the person in hopes that things change.
  • Know who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, and what your boundaries are.
  • Don’t ask everyone for advice about your dating situation. Look within yourself.
Matt W Newman / Unsplash
Matt W Newman / Unsplash

Dating is hard in this fast-paced age of dating apps, swipes, likes, and matches. For example, it’s now possible to talk to a bunch of matches in one day and to be rejected or ignored by every single one. Before online dating, that amount of rejection wasn’t possible.

It’s OK for dating to be difficult. Anything important and worth doing in life is challenging. However, there’s a difference between a difficult journey toward a desired outcome and an arduous journey that never ends. If you don’t know how to date in a way that leads to a committed, healthy relationship, you could be stuck on a painful journey indefinitely. That is an unnecessary waste of your time.

If you don’t want that to happen, you have to learn to date differently. You know what they say about doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. That applies to dating and creating healthy relationships, too.

Dating and getting into a relationship isn’t a matter of luck. It’s a matter of skills. The following are dating and relational skills to start implementing so you can ensure you’re doing the right hard work on your journey toward the committed relationship you desire:

  1. Develop a strong sense of self. Know who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, and what your boundaries are. Learn how to validate and honor your feelings and needs. You may think that if you’re easygoing, and accommodating, or you don’t have many needs, it will be easier to find someone. The opposite is true. Without a strong sense of self, you can’t discern who the right-fit person is versus who the wrong-fit person is. Almost anyone could feel like a fit if you don’t know who you are because you’re so malleable. That results in dating a lot of wrong-fit people. When you have a strong sense of self, you can date with more clarity, confidence, and less anxiety. It’s easier to find a partner who meshes well with you. And, you can tell when someone is a wrong fit early on, which eliminates a lot of unnecessary pain and disappointment.
  2. Be authentic. In other words, once you have a strong sense of self, it’s time to show yourself as you are from the first date onward. It’s who you are and how you are that is interesting and likable to the right-fit person. If you hide yourself to be easygoing or to avoid being too negative or too much, you don’t let people know you. People can’t connect with you unless you let them see you. When you stop hiding who you are, some people won’t like you, but the right person will. The right person won’t get a chance to see that they like you if you’re hiding.
  3. Don’t make dating your mission. When clients begin seeing me for dating support, many of them tell me they have everything they want except a relationship. They tell me that if they had a relationship they’d be happy. Maybe that’s true, but often it isn’t. Either way, approaching dating with that mindset makes it harder to meet the right person. If you think dating is the only thing you want or need to be happy, you’re approaching it with a lot of desperation. That makes it less likely for you to meet the right person. If you’re single right now and you want to be happy now (and make it more likely that you’ll find the right person and be ready for them), make it your mission to create a life that fulfills you without a partner (you may be thinking that you already are happy without a partner, but I invite you to question that, because you may be keeping yourself stuck with that belief). Create a life that matters to you so much that you don’t have time to date three people at once or to spend hours a day swiping or texting with a stranger you’ve never met in person. When you are happy, without a partner, you’ll heal the wounds that make you think a relationship is the most important thing. You’ll also approach dating from an empowered position, making you more ready for the relationship you want when the right person finally shows up.
  4. Be realistic, not hopeful. If you’re seeing someone and it feels painful, don’t stay involved with the person in hopes that things change. You have to make decisions about dating someone based on what is happening, not what you hope will happen or what they say will happen. Hope is powerful, and can help you survive unimaginable circumstances. Hope can also make you believe in a better future with someone, without any evidence that the better future is realistic. When it comes to dating and relationships, hope is not what you need. You can’t make decisions on whether to continue dating someone based on what you hope, you have to make decisions based on reality.
  5. Stop trying to know the future. Don’t talk about everything with a new person right away. If you get anxious when dating, you may be tempted to discuss everything you need, everything you’re OK with, everything you’ve been through, and everything you possibly can in an attempt to figure out whether you and the person will work out. None of that information can tell you whether things will work down the road and only creates more anxiety. You can’t know the future ahead of time. Instead of being present and on a journey of getting to know someone and growing your connection, you’re in your head, trying to figure out whether you’re right for them or they’re right for you based on something they told you. You have to learn to tolerate the uncertainty of the future to build a relationship with a strong, lasting foundation. There’s no way to bypass the journey, and attempts to do so usually interrupt what could ave evolved organically.
  6. Honor your needs about a commitment. If you’re ready for a commitment and the person you’ve been seeing isn’t, you don’t have to wait indefinitely in hopes that they change their mind. Their need for more time isn't more important than your need for commitment. You can decide to give it more time if you want to, but don’t give it an endless amount of time. When you wait around for someone, at some point you’re dismissing your needs entirely, and so is the person you’re seeing. If the person cares about your needs, they’re not going to expect you to stick around indefinitely playing a “serious relationship” without any strings attached. Someone who doesn’t care about your needs will be happy to do that.

    Or, you can decide to move on because you have no way of knowing whether the person will ever be ready. Your needs matter, so it’s a reasonable choice to end things if the person you’re seeing can’t give you what you want and need. There’s no wrong choice, as long as you honor your own needs, not just the other person's.

  7. Trust your feelings. Don’t ask everyone for advice about your dating situation. They’re not you, and they’re not in it. It doesn’t matter what they’d do, it matters what you want and need to do. Only you know what is best for you. Trying to get answers to what you should do in your life from everyone but you send the message to yourself that your thoughts and feelings don’t matter or aren’t valid. Heal your relationship with yourself by looking inward for the answers you seek. That’s where they are: within you.

Dating in a way that leads to a relationship involves a lot of shifts in your relationship with yourself, and learning new relational skills. The more you create a healthy relationship with yourself, the more empowered you’ll be on your dating journey, and the easier it will be to find the right person—and end it with the wrong one as early as possible.

Facebook image: Malysheva Liudmyla/Shutterstock

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