Dating 101: Know Yourself First To Recognize Mr/Ms Right

BlindMansBluffIf you don’t know yourself, how can you know who you should be dating? Many relationships go wrong because the people are not a match for each other – they are unable to recognize when something is not good for them. Healthy relationships are more likely when each person knows themselves well – they know what makes them happy, what works for them, what fills their heart and makes them feel valued and loved. These individuals know what good communication feels like in a relationship. They enjoy doing many of the same things. They manage money issues together. These people recognize these qualities in the other person because they know themselves well. They have learned who they are along their way in life and have learned this from past relationships as well.

Examples of what you need to know about yourself:

  1. How do you fill your day? Do you prioritize work over play or vice versa? Or do you balance between these two things?
  2. What are your values? Important: Your values need to align with one another. You can’t pick and choose only a part of someone. You must be willing to accept “the whole package”. How someone lives their life comes out of their values. And we live with the consequences of those values.
  3. Do you need a meticulously clean home? Or are you more likely to have things strewn all over your space?
  4. Do you have long-term goals or like to “take things as they come”? This must be in alignment in a serious relationship.
  5. Do you save your money or spend it as you wish?
  6. What are your spiritual beliefs and practices if any? Does it matter what beliefs your future mate will have?
  7. Do you know that you want children one day, or is it OK if it does not happen? Or do you already know you do not want to have children? It needs to be a conscious decision in any of these categories. They each have their own consequences.
  8. What about education? Does this matter to you? Do you want someone with equal or more education than you have?
  9. Do you want someone with the same sense of humor? Sometimes it does not need to match, but you still “get” and enjoy the humor of the other person.
  10. Are you aware of qualities in another person that do not work for you?
  11. What are your politics about? Are politics important to you? Can you be with someone who does not share your beliefs?
  12. What about family? Are you close to your family and do you want your mate to be close to them as well? How often do you get together with family? If your future mate is close to his or her family is that OK with you and do you want to share in that closeness as well?
  13. What about the use of alcohol or drugs?
  14. Socially, are you a party person or do you like to go out as a couple or a small group of friends? How often do you socialize?
  15. What about travel? Is it important to you?
  16. Do you have a passion such as skiing or camping? How important is it to you to share in this activity with a future mate?
  17. Do you need to be with someone who can and has been faithful in past relationships?

Not everything needs to be a match:

You will be more affected or passionate about some things more than others. You need to know what you can accept and what you can’t live without. Before finding the right mate you need to know what you must have in a mate to be happy versus what you can truly “live with”. You must also recognize what you will not accept in a relationship.  This is called a deal-breaker.

Difference between a “must have” and something that is a strong preference:

You need to be able to identify the difference between these two categories. To me, a “must have” item is something that creates an emptiness or disturbing feeling inside you when it is absent. For example, if someone is a “dog lover” and the mate won’t allow a dog, do you feel this emptiness or hole inside from not having one? That would be a “must have” item. If you really enjoy being around dogs but don’t feel this longing or emptiness then you might have a “strong preference” rather than a “must have” item. Or a “must have” list item might be that your future mate has never been unfaithful in a past relationship. Therefore, if you know there is no history of cheating in his or her past, this gives you a sense of “emotional security” in the relationship. Lastly, a “must have” list item can be something that you enjoy and want to do with your mate because it is so important to you and fills you up inside, such as skiing or traveling.

ACTION ITEMS: Think about these categories and concepts. The list is not a complete list of items.

  1. See if you can identify those items that seem more important to you than others.
  2. Have you experienced some of these differences in past relationships? What was that like for you?
  3. Did you go along with it in the relationship even though it made you unhappy? If so, why?
  4. Begin to pick out those qualities you experienced in past relationships that you either never want to repeat or need to have them in your mate one day.
  5. Can you begin to differentiate between a “must have” item and one that you can live without but would have been really great if you had it?


About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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