Why Can’t I find someone? Why do I keep dating the wrong person? Why can’t I get beyond one or two dates? I hear these questions often. Interestingly, the dating advice I frequently hear and read as a response, tells people to make lists about what they truly want in a relationship and/or partner. I myself give that advice to some of my clients; it is a good start. However, it is just a start.
The other less advertised and more difficult piece is about you, not what you want, but what you bring and dare I say, don’t bring to the table. This exercise is good to do with a really close friend and confidant who can assist you with getting really honest. First start with a list of what you bring to a relationship. What do you offer? You can start with generalities, personable, fun, athletic, but then dig deeper and get specific. This is where friends can be helpful, what about you attracted them? What about you keeps them in a relationship with you?
The next part is the hard part and you really should be in a good frame of mind and be willing to be open to feedback and be honest. What do you not bring to a relationship? Start the list with fun generalities. For example, I do not bring any love of camping or antiques. I am 5 foot 5 inches and brunette; I do not bring height or blonde hair to the relationship. Then dig deeper. What was your part in why past relationships did not work out? What are some things about you that you know you would like to change? For example do you have a temper? Are you too needy? Do you have an unhealthy lifestyle? Your list might look something like this:
What I do not bring to the table and am ok with:
I do not bring height
I do not bring a love of camping
I do not bring blonde hair
I do not bring a love of old cars
Things I do not bring to the table and would like to work on:
✔I do not bring emotional stability, (define why) because I have a short temper. I would like to work on changing that (here is the opportunity to get specific on what you are going to do), by seeing a therapist, doing guided meditation, taking anger management classes.
✔I am not good at dating because I attach too quickly, I would like to change that by enlisting my dating buddy (good friend) to ground me and call me out when I start talking about (or obsessing about) long-term possibilities after the first initial dates.
✔I do not bring a healthy lifestyle because I drink too much and I do not work out. I would like to change that by reducing my alcohol consumption to: (be specific, one day a week, one drink etc.) and begin to exercise (walking 3 times a week, going to the gym 4 days a week, etc.)
Compare your lists of what you bring, do not bring, and are willing to work on to your lists of wants in a relationship/partner. How do they measure up with each other? More importantly, how do you measure up against your own wants of someone else?
This exercise is not just for singles; it works for couples as well!
Sarah E Stewart, MSW, CPC
Life Coach & Author of Broken in the Back Bay