Poor Dating History? How to Date Smarter & Pick Better By: Ilene Kastel, M.A., LCPC

“I’m looking for another unsuccessful relationship”, said no one ever. We all plan on finding a healthier more successful relationship the next time around.  No one purposely tries to repeat the same mistakes. So how do we know as we’re falling in “like” with someone that we are picking better and wiser?

Think of the courting process as a condensed sample of what the longer term relationship will look like. It’s important to examine if our needs are getting met early on in the relationship. If, after clearly and nicely communicating your needs, allowing a window for adjustment/work, your partner isn’t able to meet your needs it is crucial to avoid hoping, expecting, or seeing the “potential” in our partner as we wish for them to change.

Rule number 1: Only date the person for who they are and as they are as they are at this exact moment. There is great risk when we date someone for their potential as opposed to who they are at this current time because they may never reach their “potential”. While communication plays a large role, if your potential partner cannot adjust after a conversation or two then it may be time to move on.

Rule number 2: The secret is: Consistency and Reliability. These are the two most important factors when getting to know someone as well as throughout the relationship. How do I know if someone is reliable or consistent? Early on we have to access small pieces of information.  Do they call when they say they will call? Do they actually schedule dates and follow through on them?  Do they show up to scheduled outings when they say they will or notify you in a timely manner if they’re running late? Are they attentive when you’re stressed or anxious? Do they take interest in what you converse about? These beginning and small moments are indicators about whether you partner is reliable, consistent and perhaps trustworthy.

Naturally, there are other factors that play into whether we are “picking right” or dating smarter. But, these foundational rules are a solid and dependable place to start. If you’re wanting to learn more about yourself and how to date smarter beyond these rules, speaking with a counselor may be a worthwhile avenue for self-exploration.