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A Step-by-Step Guide To Picking Your Best Mate

A Step-by-Step Guide To Picking Your Best Mate

In my practice I work with many single people seeking a life partner. Based on research, my own experience and other methods, I developed a three month program to help individuals find a mate. Here are some of the secrets and steps I’ve used with success from that process.

Step 1. Know yourself

The first question I ask clients seeking a partner is, “who are you?” Then, I listen. People that have a confident and clear response to that question seem to do better when picking mates. When someone can tell me about themselves without hesitation and in detail, I can tell they know themselves well, which is a big part of choosing the right partner. The best answers are specific and unique to them as a person rather than general, such as mentioning qualities that apply to many people (i.e. I like to smile). If they look me in the eyes while describing themselves, even better. And the cherry on top is if they describe both positive and negative qualities, strengths and weaknesses. That shows they are ready to share life with another person without over-burdening them.

Step 2. Do you give what you seek?

We often dream of the kind of person that would come into our life and have all these great qualities. But would that person be happy with what we bring to relationship, and our personal qualities? We need to be mindful of what we offer as partners. This is important because if you manage to snag someone while hiding your negative traits, or if it’s not a good match because they give or offer more than you do, they won’t be happy with you in a few years and that’s not good for you. The best partnerships happen when both partners know exactly what they’re in for up front, and it’s a good deal for everyone. To make sure the relationship is balanced and fits, you need to show up and be the kind of person that gives what you want from someone else.

Step 3. Get rid of limiting beliefs

This is an important step. We all say we want relationship, but we often have hidden thoughts than get in the way. For example, my clients often have hidden beliefs that say, “there’s no good ones left in my age range;” “I’m not good enough for anyone;” “I’ll never meet the right person;” “dating is too hard,” etc. These beliefs limit our power of intention and the confidence that attracts others. What if you believe, “I am awesome;” “There are so many great people out there for me;” “Everyone would want to date me.” Then you carry yourself in manner that is attractive to others and finding relationship becomes more likely. The power of belief and intention is huge. Counseling can really help in this regard, because most of us need support removing limiting beliefs from our minds.

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Step 4. Are you ready?

Again, we all say we’re ready for relationship when we’re seeking a partner, but are we? A closer look is worth taking. Are you ready to wake up next to someone else every day? To plan your life together with someone else who has equal say? To share your space with someone who has different cleanliness habits? To worry about infidelity, attraction to others, and the natural draw to question our relationships? Are you ready to take care of someone if they get sick? To help support someone else if they lose their job? Relationship is a commitment that expands us and also requires some sacrifice. Are you ready to sacrifice some of your personal freedom?

Step 5. Don’t believe the hype

Society influences our idea of who a good partner is through movies, advertising, social messages, popularity, coolness, who our cultural heroes are, etc. Based on that we sometimes form an idea of the kind of person we want. “I want the guy with the striped shirt and the Sebago shoes that only cares a little about his appearance but looks great, is sensitive yet manly, knows how to take charge but also follow, will cry with me and protect me from dangerous people, likes to travel, has a touch of gray in his hair and knows the wine list.” These ideal images of people are not helpful when choosing a mate. What we really want to know is, who is right for me? Not who is right for mass media, for the silver screen, or for underwear advertisements. We make good choices when we allow ourselves to determine who would be a fit for us based on our qualities, not who fits the social ideal best.

Step 6. Make a list

The first list should be the 10 qualities that describe you best. Make sure to include a few negative traits among the positives. I am always interested in what people leave out. For example, some people don’t mention that they are highly intelligent even though it is obvious from all measures that they are. Some people don’t mention that they are highly anxious even though they’ve been struggling with anxiety for years. You should be able to describe yourself accurately. Modesty or lopsided descriptions are not helpful in this exercise.

Step 7. Make another list

The next list will be, based on your own qualities, what qualities will your partner have? Again, ditch the ideals. Imagine your day off. You wake up in your pajamas. What do you want to do? Who would want to do it with you? What would they be like? Are they introverted, extroverted? Do they like to eat in, dine out? Do they like the loud shows you go to, or do they prefer a quiet night of board games at home? How educated are they? How much money can they spend? Which do they prioritize more, family and relationships or their career? Write up the list of qualities that fit you in a partner. Then shave it down to only 10 qualities (I know, it’s hard). Separate the list into 3 parts: must haves, strong preferences and negotiables.

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Step 8. Advertise yourself

OK, here’s where the rubber meets the road. You’ve made these lists, you’ve thought about who you are, what you want, and if you’re ready to have a partner. Now it’s time to execute. Here’s where many of my clients start to waver. Everything is fine in theory, but actually making relationship happen? That’s scary! This is often the point where we discover a few more limiting beliefs or habits. For example, we may go to the bar to meet someone, but then act cool and aloof as if we don’t need anyone. A great test of how ready you are to help make relationship happen in your life is your willingness to advertise yourself. Are you ashamed to ask friends to headhunt for you?

Do you typically not mention that you are single and looking at social events or networking functions? If you are willing to advertise your singleness, then relationship is around the corner. I think a good litmus test is if you’re willing to hire one of those planes with a banner to fly your phone number over the city. If you are, that’s good. Now talk to everyone you meet. Remember the problem is not you, there’s someone for everyone. The problem is that person does not know who you are. Make it easy for them to find you.

Step 9. Identify organizations

Organizations such as clubs, charities and sports leagues, and institutions such as universities and museums filter their social circle around a certain demographic. Take a look at the list of qualities you are seeking in a partner. Now ask yourself, “What does this person do? Who do they hang out with? What hobbies do they have? Are they active socially? What organizations do they join? Do they go to the dog park on Saturday mornings or to the library on Sunday afternoons? Identify two or three organizations that match your partner demographic and get involved. If they don’t work out, replace those organizations with others. I guarantee that if you stay involved with two or three organizations at any one time that match your demographic, you will dramatically increase the odds of meeting someone who is a good fit.

Step 10. Now it’s a numbers game

I believe in soul mates. I also believe many people can be a soul mate. Dating is, on some level, a numbers game. You have to meet enough variety of people that match your criteria on a regular basis to be able to filter down to the ones that fit you the best. You don’t want to be caught only meeting one or two people and then thinking you have to settle because no one else has showed up. That’s trouble. Open the floodgates. You want everyone in your city that fits your demographic to know who you are and how to contact you. Don’t be shy. If you meet 10 people a week that meet your target qualities, that’s good. You can do that easily by attending just two events every weekend. Getting involved with organizations that pre-filter folks for you based on interest does not require much money either. You can volunteer for organizations and charities, or offer your skills pro-bono to help an institute and possibly waive the membership fees.

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Step 11. Stay connected to your cheerleaders and support

OK, I’m biased. I do this for a living. But I honestly believe that at this stage in the dating game, it’s the wrong time to let go of your support structure. Dating is hard. There are many thoughts and feelings to process, and many questions to be asked as we go through finding a mate. If you’ve been working with a therapist or life coach that has helped you, stick with it. If you have very supportive friends that keep you on the wagon, have coffee once a week with them and ask for their support to help keep you going. We can lose hope at this point because it takes a fair amount of focus, energy and work to keep the train moving. You need people around you helping you to marshal your energy and remind you of the upcoming payoff.

Step 12. Get good at saying no

If you’re following these steps correctly, you are now attracting alot of attention from potential partners. A very important part of choosing your best mate is quickly dispatching the ones that don’t fit well. Don’t be polite (OK be polite, but don’t dilly-dally). We have work to do, and time is of the essence. When you’re drawing in 10 or so people a week, you have to say no to more than half of them before the first date, and a few more after the first date. Practice your boundaries; get good at saying no. Don’t waste your time with so-so matches. Save your energy for better filtering and targeting.

Step 13. Be honest

No use going on dates if you’re not being yourself, because you’re just going to throw off your date’s radar, and your own. Try to be especially yourself on dates. That way you’ll know sooner if it’s a good match or not and so will your date. Reverse filtering is a great way to ensure a good match. Reverse filtering is being yourself so your date can make an assessment of whether its a good fit. For some reason in our culture we have this idea that we should try and impress while simultaneously deciding if we like the person we’re with. Too much work. Let them do some of it for you by you just being truly you and harnessing some of their radar power for your joint benefit.

Step 14. The elevator pitch

Honestly, if you’ve made it this far, you may already be dating several people or will be in a relationship very soon. Remember, everyone wants love, and there are a lot of single people in the world. This step is like the black belt of dating. Distill what it is you offer someone else to just a few primary qualities. You need to be able to answer the question confidently: “Why would anyone want you?”

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Develop your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short, refined expression of why someone should be in relationship with you and what they would be in for. For example, “I am really funny, but sometimes annoying. I watch long TV shows and get really into them and cry at the sad parts. In me you get someone with a positive, happy spirit, a bank account that somehow makes it month to month, and someone who will kick your butt at Warcraft. I am very loyal, and can be jealous. I get anxious in crowds, but I’m brilliant at a private romantic dinner.” You get the idea. It should be personal, unique, honest but compelling. You have to sell yourself, but accurately. What are your best selling points? Tell people up front, but also tell them the downside (i.e. I’m really good in bed, but I don’t clean up my clothes, like, ever).

Step 15. Ninja

We’re beyond black belt here. Ninja is when you have developed the confidence to approach people you don’t know, for example, at the library, or the grocery store. Why is this helpful? Because the visual centers (in your brain) and the unconscious information you pick up from people’s faces and bodies is a pretty decent part of your radar for finding a good match. So don’t neglect those opportunities where you see someone you really like. But how to approach them?

This takes practice, especially if you’re not smooth, like most of us. A good rule of thumb is to be laid back, considerate (not pushy!) and honest. Something like, “Hi! I saw you from across the table and you seem like a really interesting person, what are you reading?” Or, “Hi, this may sound a little weird, but I promised myself I would introduce myself to three new people today. My name’s Eddie and I like chocolate labs, how about you?” Just as we make quick visual assessments, so do people we introduce ourselves to. If you come across as genuine and humble, it gives others’ space to pay attention to their own radar and perhaps notice that they like you as well. Practice makes perfect.

Step 16. Conversion

If you’re in sales, you know conversion is the point at which a prospective customer becomes a buyer. Now that you are an expert at creating relationship opportunities in your life, you need to be an expert at relationship in order to take a few successful dates and turn them into a loving, life-long partnership (if that’s what you want). Don’t ditch your support network just yet! Getting into relationship is a critical time. Often in the first 6 months is when both partners feel they need to make a decision on whether this is the right person for them. This phase of dating takes us into another area of skill, that of being in relationship. This ‘conversion’ phase is a necessary part of taking your dating mojo and turning it all into your original goal for all this work.

It was worth it

Choosing well is half the battle in relationship. The other half is developing critical skills to make it work. Knowing yourself is a key part of choosing the right fit for you, and being yourself helps ensure whoever picks you does it for the right reasons. With these steps, from the theoretical to the practical, you have a solid map for how to make relationship happen in your life and find the right partner. Working with a professional, whether that’s with a counselor/therapist or coach can make a really big difference in helping you work through these steps to be successful. As social beings we are wired for relationship, so it’s all worth it in the end. Go out and make it happen, and enjoy!

Featured photo credit: 123RF via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

The Importance of Living in the Moment

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

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Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

Calm Your Mind

When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Live in the present with mindful eating.

    Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

    So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

    • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
    • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
    • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

    You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

    Mindful Activities

    Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

    Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

    You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

    Final Thoughts

    Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

    Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

    Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

    The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

    More About Living in the Present

    Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

    Reference

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