How to Set Healthy Expectations for Dating

Self-Inventory for Successful Relationships

Whether you have just dipped your foot back into the dating pool or you’ve been swimming around for awhile, it’s important to really know yourself in order to find a potential match. You can start by doing a self-inventory and asking yourself a few important questions that can determine your needs and what you bring to a new relationship. Additionally, you can get caught up in a new relationship without knowing what you want and potentially changing for the other person. Doing a self-inventory beforehand can keep you grounded.

Are you ready to date?

Possibly the most important question you can ask yourself is are you ready for a relationship? Have you moved on from your previous relationship? While most prior relationships can bring some negative baggage, it’s good to self-reflect and make sure you have moved on and are ready for a new person in your life. Sometimes it’s hard to face what caused a relationship to end, but it’s necessary to reflect and ask yourself what contributed to the disconnect. It’s easy to blame a partner, but you can grow more from determining how you contributed to the outcome.

What are you looking for in a relationship?

You’re not looking for a check-list of traits for your future mate here. Dig a little deeper when considering what you want in your next relationship. Think about traits that describe your “ideal partnership” and represent you as a part of this partnership rather than what you are looking for in someone else. Consider what was missing and what was positive in previous relationships.

Do you have any deal breakers?

Just as there things you are looking for in a relationship, there are also going to be some things you definitely don’t want. Can you date a smoker? Do you want kids? Are you willing to date someone who already has kids? It’s important to figure these out before getting into a new relationship. While these things might not seem important in the beginning, you want to know before everyone is deeply invested and someone has too make an uncomfortable decision or life change .

What is your attachment style?

Think about what you need from a partner. Do you struggle with giving your partner alone time or maybe getting enough for yourself? Recognizing these attachment style traits can give you more insight into how you fit into a relationship and finding a mate who will complement your style.

What’s your self-worth?

It’s important to bring confidence and self-worth into a new relationship. After all, how can you love someone else if you don’t value yourself? Make a list of everything you bring to a relationship and be confident in your abilities to add to a relationship to make it prosper long term.

What are your weaknesses?

Sometimes it takes deep self-reflection to acknowledge our shortcomings. What are your weaknesses with relationships? In your past, how did you contribute to arguments or frustration? The goal is to grow from past experiences. If effective communication skills or conflict resolution skills are a challenge, identifying those challenges will give you a chance to improve in those areas moving forward. Use this information about yourself to grow and figure out what you can do to improve upon it.

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?

Recognizing your personality style will be beneficial in helping you find your comfort level in each new relationship. You could still very well be a fit with someone with a different personality style.

Set yourself up for success.

Self-inventory and reflection will help you gain a great deal of insight about yourself and the focus should be on setting realistic expectations. On a first date, remember that you might not see sparks fly or exploding fireworks, but it could still be a great potential match. Remember that dating is hard and relationships are work. First dates can be filled with anxiety and everyone deserves some level of grace, patience and, perhaps, a second chance. If you can find three positives in the date and would generally rate the experience a 6+ on a scale of 1-10, you might consider a second meeting. If nothing else, you will learn a lot more about you and how you process relationships.

He or she didn’t check off all the boxes.

Avoid creating a perfect partner list that your date may not be able to measure up to (especially on the first date). Checking off boxes does not guarantee that sometime is actually perfect for you. After all, you most likely don’t want to be measured against a list.

It’s important to realize your deal breakers and not pursue relationships that are non-starters. However, if your date leaves a box unchecked or something isn’t perfect, take a minute to evaluate the relevance of that moment as it relates to a long term relationship. Find ways to laugh together when the awkwardness of a first date arises (you are not alone, we have all been there). We are all imperfect fish in a great big ocean, just trying to find our match.

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