Dating Advice from a Marriage and Family Therapist by Arielle Saunders

1 – Most people make the mistake of seeing dating as a process where they need to make themselves desirable so other people will pick them. Essentially, the idea is if they look the right way and say the right things, then the person they’re looking for will be more likely to choose them out of everyone else in the world. Instead of worrying so much about if other people will like you, focus on if you even like them. Dating is a chance for you to consider potential partners based on how well they match what you want in a partner. Take an active and intentional stance when dating, no matter what you’re looking for.

2 – Compatibility is key. I love the quote that says “you may be the ripest, juiciest peach in the entire world, but there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like peaches”. It’s a perfect reminder that your inherent worth is not about whether someone else finds you attractive or desirable. Don’t try to change yourself to be something you’re not. Instead, be the best version of yourself you can be and focus on finding someone who is compatible with you exactly the way you are.

3 – Perfection isn’t possible, so stop trying to be perfect before getting into a relationship or before moving forward in your current relationship. While it’s important to consistently do your own work, the journey of self-discovery is a never-ending process. If you’re waiting to be completely over certain things or to no longer struggle with any issues, then you’ll be waiting forever. There is a time to embrace your struggles as a way of loving yourself. No one is perfect, so it’s more about finding someone you can see yourself navigating the imperfections of life with.

4 – There is what people say and there is what people do. When it comes to dating, it’s easy to get caught up in the things potential partners say. Even though words are important, their actions say much more about who they really are. Pay attention to repeated patterns of behavior and when you continually see those patterns, believe them.

5 – Having similar core beliefs and values is more important than having similar interests. It can be really nice to share the same interests and habits as the person you’re dating. It gives you something to share and talk about. I’m not saying it’s not an important part of relationship, but I am saying it’s not as important as having matching core beliefs and values. They are the foundation of your life and of the live you will build with your partner, so it’s really vital they go well together. Look for these non-negotiables in a potential partner first, and then look for shared interests. Interests can change and be developed, while core values are much more concrete.

Arielle Saunders, LMFT