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Finding a Great Romantic Partner

Four good approaches and how to make the most of them.

PhotoSteve101, Flickr, CC 2.0
Source: PhotoSteve101, Flickr, CC 2.0

This article describes how to make the most of online dating, getting set up, meeting at work, and participating in ongoing group activities where your Mr. or Ms. Right is likely in attendance.

But first, let's get you clear on what kind of relationship and partner you want.

Who and for what?

First, decide how long-term a relationship you want, from a quickie to “until death do us part.”

Regarding the quickie, look at your history: Have previous one-shots been a net plus: the thrill outweighing any regrets or unrequited wishes that the quickie had turned to something more long-lasting?

Regarding a long-term relationship, have they worked out? Are you better in shorter-term relationships or even solo, at least for now?

Now, what sort of person would you be wise to look for? Again, look at your history. With what kind of partners have things worked out well?

  • With hotties to look at and in the clinches?
  • With bad boys/girls or mainstream folks?
  • With the glamorous or the simple?
  • Financially well-off or just getting by?
  • Artsy or practical?
  • Older or younger?
  • Hard-working or more play-centric?
  • How smart?
  • How talkative?
  • How kind?
  • A particular race?
  • Gender?
  • Sexual orientation?
  • Level of sex drive?
  • How political and in the Left or Right direction? This often matters more than you might think.


You’re unlikely to meet Mr/Ms Right at a bar or concert, where you can’t even hear yourselves think. Your prospects aren't much better in those random meetings like in the supermarket, or like in the movies, where two people literally bump into each other, making the woman drop her packages, he helps her pick them up, and voila, Kismet!. In such situations, it’s mainly about physicality, which can cloud your judgment. Your chances improve if you use one or more of these wisely: online dating, getting set up, and joining ongoing group activities.

Online dating

It’s easy to get turned off to online dating because many profiles are deceptive. But it’s the busy person’s match-up method of choice: For example, has over 40 million members. The following tips can boost your chances of online dating working for you:

First, recognize that the game isn’t to get the most responses, it’s to get an on-target relationship quickly.

Winning that game requires honest photos. Visual species and sexual beings that we are, your photos matter, perhaps too much. Post three varied, honest shots of yourself:

  • A head-and-shoulders shot wearing what you’d happily wear to work or to a casual restaurant
  • A full-body shot doing your favorite recreation. Perhaps you’re wearing bicycling togs, what you'd wear at the mall, or even when watching TV.
  • A full-body shot of you wearing something that makes you feel sexy. But unless you’re looking for a sex-only relationship, be subtle rather than overt. For example, a man might wear a form-revealing shirt but with only one button open, not two. A woman might wear a form-revealing outfit but show no more than a hint of cleavage.

You might want to forgo using a professional photographer, and not mainly because of the cost but because it's harder to look natural in front of a stranger than in front of a friend. And a professional can make the photos look too professional: photoshopped or with one of those telltale photographer backdrops. With today’s phones, a friend can take fine pictures of you. Just be sure you’re well lighted and there are no shadows. Tip: At the moment s/he’s about to take a picture of you, instead of asking you to say “cheese", have her say a sex word.

Winning the online dating game also requires you to disclose four things:

  • ·Your distinguishing strengths: that is, those that differentiate you from the horde and that your special someone would need to appreciate. For example, if you’re unusually intellectual or athletic and you’d want your partner to value that in you, write it. Or maybe it’s that you're unusually likable by most people or are good at life’s practicalities. Write that. If you love sex, write that you’re passionate. If you’re not, even though it’s unconventional, you might write something like, “My sex drive won’t win any awards.”
  • The weaknesses that your special someone would have to accept about you: For example, if you like to work long hours or, at the other extreme, want someone who’ll support you, it’s wise to say so. Yes, you’ll screen out masses of the wrong people, but you'll screen-in one or more well-suited ones.
  • ·Your ideal partner’s distinguishing strengths that you really want: Perhaps it’s someone who craves open communication about feelings, or conversely, who requires a minimum of “processing.”
  • ·Your ideal partner’s distinguishing weaknesses that you can accept: Everyone has weaknesses. The trick is to identify those you can comfortably accept. Perhaps it’s a neat-freak or, conversely, someone who's “casual” about appearance. Or maybe it’s someone with an illness or a person who doesn’t care much about being close with family.

With so many profiles out there, you have to present your differentiating essence fast. Say what’s most important and different about you in your screen name and your first sentence. My headline might be “Kind Workaholic.” In describing what you’re looking for, list the non-negotiables first, then the would-be-nices. Don’t embed the essentials amid the less important. Don’t dilute; distill.

In answering the personality questions that many dating sites ask, again don’t answer so as to attract the most people. Answer honestly and you’ll screen out poor fits, leaving a higher percentage of people that might actually be right.

Pick rather than wait to get picked. Yes, that will take more time, but you’re more likely to find someone right. As you review people’s profiles, consider the factors above. While some profiles may be inflated, you can usually screen out those in their first email or text, phone call, or meeting.

Early good signs:

  • They respond with 24 hours, 48 max. Sure, that could be a sign of desperation but more likely it signals that they’re considerate, responsible, not an undue procrastinator, and are seriously considering a relationship with you.
  • Their first email or text is custom, not generic.
  • It’s intelligent and kind.
  • It’s long enough to demonstrate interest in you but not so long that they’re imposing too much on your time at this early stage.
  • It’s moderately revealing about themselves, but it’s premature for deep disclosure, let alone overt sexuality, unless that’s all you’re looking for.
  • The cliché is that opposites attract but in reality, it’s easier to make a relationship work with someone with kindred values, intellect, and goals.

If their first email, profile, and photo intrigues, you might respond with an email that points out a commonality with the person and asking a question, perhaps about their work, family, or avocation.

If the response to that continues to appeal, if s/he hasn’t yet initiated a phone call or that classic coffee or walking first date, it’s probably time for you to do so. A phone call is a low-risk first step—Some people are much better in writing than when speaking.

Certainly, the first in-person get-together should be in a public place such as a cafe. Suggesting that conveys respectful understanding that it’s too risky to, at this point, to invite a person home or to another private place. First meetings at a cafe or walking also allows you to exit an uncomfortable meeting within a half hour.

Getting set up

The advantage of getting set-up by friends or family is that, unlike with online dating, your recommended dates are based on real-world knowledge of you and the person. Remembering that may help you overcome whatever embarrassment you may feel in asking to get set up, for example, on a double date or a party created to introduce the two of you.

Even though your friends and family know you, it’s usually wise to say how you’d like to be described to potential dates as well as what you’re looking for. Here's a sample:

I’m finally ready to meet my special someone, maybe even for marriage. Ideally, he’d be a little younger than me (Guys age faster and die younger.) He should be reasonably attractive but not an Adonis—Not only would that feel a little threatening, 10s tend to try to get by on their looks, plus every cougar will be trying to tempt him. He doesn’t need to be rich but should be stably employed with a reasonable income. He needn't be interested in dancing or travel like I am. He mainly needs to be smart and interesting to talk with and he should be a good listener, not just wrapped up in himself. Most of all, he needs to be a kind person, not a milquetoast but the kind of guy who could care almost as much about me as himself.

Ongoing group activities

Doing an ongoing group activity allows the time needed to get to know people and for them to know you. Some examples:

  • A course that you could envision your Mr/Ms Right taking. For example, if you’d love traveling with a romantic partner, you might take a course in tourist Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, etc.
  • .Want someone career-oriented? Get involved in the local chapter of your field’s professional association, attend a few-day conference, or take a continuing education course for people in your profession.
  • Volunteer. Some options: a political party or candidate, a festival, museum, library, charity, school, orchestra, community theatre or symphony, or religious institution.
  • If you’re active and would like a partner who is, join a co-ed or singles softball or bowling league, group lessons in dance, golf or tennis, or join a hiking or skiing club.
  • Travel with a group, perhaps through your alumni association. Or take a cruise, perhaps a singles cruise.

At work

The risks of dating a co-worker are well-known, and especially dangerous if consorting with a subordinate, but work is a great place to meet a partner because you get to see how people behave day in and ou, and can get to know each other slowly. A few up-front agreements, easier to state than to follow, can reduce the risks:

  • Agree that both of you will make all efforts to keep the relationship private until which time you're at least living together if not engaged to be married.
  • Agree that neither of you will bestow benefits or impose liabilities because you're in a relationship.
  • Agree up-front that even if you break up and one is furious at the other, you both promise to keep it private and to not exert any retribution.

P.S. I met my wife at work.

No bad fish

Even if you’re feeling desperate, try to maintain high standards because there are so many fish in the sea, both on- and offline. Everyone deserves their prime catch. Certainly, as with sushi, no one need settle for bad fish.

I read this aloud on YouTube.

This is the first in a series on relationships. The next one: Making the most of your first date. The final one is "Marry?"