Dating in the digital age isn’t any easier than it’s ever been, regardless of the new swath of tools at hand. With the larger dating pool comes a bigger intimidation factor, so it can be tough to find a partner, let alone have the gumption to put yourself out there in the first place. If you’ve found it in yourself to do that, congratulations — you should already be proud of yourself.
And so we persist in the pursuit of finding a partner that complements us and makes us happy. So what can you do beforehand to prepare yourself, so you’ve got the best chance possible at finding someone you want to keep? Here are some flawless best practices for attracting the partner you want.
Be a flirt
Part of putting yourself out there, beyond flipping the card that says, “I’m available,” is learning the language of flirtation. When done well, this can be an amazing tool in your dating arsenal, giving you the ability to test the waters in a manner that doesn’t leave you completely vulnerable. And it can be fun!
New York-based relationship and etiquette expert and author April Masini says, “I can’t emphasize enough, how important flirting is, in meeting partners! When you find someone you’re interested in, it’s crucial to let them know that you like them. That does not mean tackling them and confessing your feelings. What it does mean, is that you should smile at them, and hold their gaze for a few seconds longer than usual. Laugh at their jokes and compliment them. Let them know you like them and find them attractive. If you don’t, you’ll wind up with regret and anxiety. Flirting is an art, and it’s worth focusing on because it’s the difference between success and failure in dating.”
Clearly it will behoove you to work on your flirtation skills — they’ll help you snag the sweetie you want.
It’s easier said than done, but it has to be said: if you want to attract someone interesting, you have to be interesting. So how does one go about the business of getting interesting? Well, you get to work.
Masini tells me, “People are attracted to interesting dates. If you’re not well read, read up! If you’re not well traveled, hit the road. If you’re not someone with good stories to tell because you don’t have any any interesting experiences, go do something that’s interesting and involving. Follow your passion, if you have one, and if you don’t, try lots of things until you find one. That journey alone, will make you interesting.”
Cultivate all of your unique hobbies, and master all of your nuanced interests to work in your favor, appealing to potential partners who are also on the market. If nothing else, you’ll slay as a well-traveled, well-read bachelorette!
Have a relationship vision
It’s important to know exactly what you want in a partner! And while that sounds like a simple concept, it can be a bit more dimensional. Knowing what you want is crucial because when you start going out on dates, it’s the very guide that will aid you in moment-to-moment decision making. Julienne Derichs, LCPC, says “Have a relationship vision. Flesh out and give substance to the qualities you want in your potential partner and relationship. Without one, you are reacting to the strong emotions of the moment and not choosing what your head and heart want.”
Imagine you’re out on a date, and it seems to be going really well. Let’s say there’s some palpable sexual chemistry, and your date has invited you over for a nite cap. But what if they’ve made it clear that they’re not looking for a serious attachment — and you are? Let that desire — the one for something serious and long-term — be the thing that stops you from hopping into bed with them and getting hung up on them in the morning. Stick to your vision and be true to you, not the moment. Let your relationship vision and self-knowledge be the voice of reason.
Make a list
Once you have your vision in place, it’s time to put the pen to paper and make a list. This is will solidify your wishes and wants and keep you on the right track to meeting someone special. Professional life coach Heidi Krantz, OTR, PCC, CPC, ELI-MP tells me, “Make a list of about five ‘must-have’ traits that must be in place several years down the road in order for you to be happy with this partner. Now, cultivate and hone those traits within yourself. Be the person you are looking for, in order to bring him/her into your life.”
Krantz continues, “So, from the superficial to the deep: if you’re looking for someone who is attractive and in shape, be attractive and in shape. If you’re looking for someone who has a good job, have one. If you’re looking for someone who is thoughtful and caring, be thoughtful and caring. Now, complete your “must have” list in writing and learn conversational strategies to help you quickly evaluate if the person before you potentially has the traits that you desire in a partner.” Bonus: not only will this list help you figure out what you want, but it will also help you sculpt and refine yourself!
Know who you are
Once you know what you want, it’s time to put part two into play: be who you would want. Erika Martinez, Psy.D, tells me, “I think the secret sauce to attracting a partner has two parts. You have to have an incredibly clear sense of type of partner you want, so that you’re able to recognize him or her when you come across them. The other part is, you need to have a clear sense of yourself and be happy and comfortable with who you are as a person. I find that magic happens when those two pieces align.”
Additionally, licensed mental heath counselor and National Board Certified Counselor Marion Rodrigue tells me, “We tend to attract people who are at a similar level of emotional health. The best way to attract the kind of partner you want — assuming you are looking for someone who is healthy, loving, happy and secure — is to first develop those qualities in yourself. When you feel good about yourself and your life, you don’t expect someone else to make you feel fulfilled and happy. The person comes into your life not to complete your life or make you feel whole, but instead, the person is a wonderful addition to your already fulfilling, happy life.” Figure out who you are. Find what makes and keeps you happy and healthy, and then, put your best foot forward.
Polish those social skills
Some super basic but actually really vital advice: cultivate good manners. Etiquette expert Masini says, “People are attracted to those with social skills. When you see someone who’s cute, that’s one thing. But someone who’s cute and who can also work a room with impeccable etiquette is going to be very attractive — so be that person. Start with dining etiquette, party etiquette (from dinner parties, to cocktail parties, to weekend wedding parties) and guest etiquette (from being a great house guest, to knowing what gifts to give when, to thank you notes). We all know that a great wardrobe and good grooming attract dates — but the icing on the cake that separates the men from the boys, is excellent manners.”
That last part is true for women as well! To be clear, you don’t need to go Emily Post level with this: memorizing which fork does what, or knowing how to masterfully fold a napkin into the shape of a swan. But you do want to make sure your clothing fits properly, your makeup is tasteful, you’re on time to engagements, and you can properly respond to invitations. It goes a long way.
People always say that the right person will show up when you least expect it. And as annoying as it may sound — especially when they’ve been saying that for years — there’s a real benefit to cultivating patience when you’re trying to meet a partner.
Psychologist Martinez tells me, “Patience is key. I find that when people get impatient with this process, they’re in a scarcity mindset. Whether it’s time running out, or fewer quality partners, there’s a limiting belief that there’s not enough of something. No one makes good choices when they operate from this mindset. It’s an emotional block that needs to be successfully resolved, to attract a partner. I often tell people to go date themselves while they wait, which gets their minds off of meeting someone and gets them to know themselves better — that’s when they become very attractive to others.” So yes, you are enough. There are enough people out there. And there’s enough time, too. So do your best to relax and focus on the things you can work on, instead of what you just have to wait for.
Most of us have a few messes in our romantic past. That doesn’t mean it’s all your fault, but you do have to deal with your emotional baggage so you don’t end up making the same mistakes with someone new. Ask yourself the right questions to assess what you need to sort.
Counselor Derichs suggests, “Be ready. Have you dealt with your exes? Have you learned what you don’t want to take into your next relationship? What strengths and weaknesses do you bring with you into your next relationship? It’s not all about what a potential mate does differently, but what you are prepared to do differently, like dealing with conflict, or being more open and vulnerable. How about learning to trust and to forgive? You take ‘you’ with you into your next relationship. Potential partners can sense when there is unfinished business which you may be still in the process of working out — the message is ‘I’m not ready to fully be here with you.'”
Once you’ve got your past straightened out, you’ll be ready to put yourself out there again with no fear of making the same mistake twice.
This one sounds simple, but can be a little rough to master. If you want to attract a partner you really desire, you’ve got to be yourself. Dating and relationship expert Megan Weks tells me, “One of the biggest mistakes we make when we are seeking a partner, is putting on a facade to become some version of yourself who you perceive as more lovable. This will always come back and bite you in the end. Over time, the truths of each person come out and this can cause relationship turmoil. Be forthcoming about who you are as a person and where you are in life and you’ll attract a loving, accepting person who is right for you! Love truly starts with self-love. Start accepting all of the parts of yourself that you may feel are less desirable and start loving up on them. This makes those parts about you much easier to love from someone else’s perspective.”
Don’t spend your energy trying to hide your imperfections, or pretend you’ve never made mistakes. And don’t treat yourself like something that can be Photoshopped. Because, honestly? Someone who embraces their flaws and owns their quirks can be really appealing to the right person.
In spite of almost every romance novel ever, you have to manage your expectations when it comes to the partner you want. No matter how hard you try, setting your sights on Channing Tatum probably isn’t going to work out for you. You’ve got to be realistic. Weks tells me, “You attract what you are. If you want someone very fit with hard arms and hard abs, you may want to look in the mirror and see where you stand. Ask yourself if you can, or should be, a bit more flexible with your expectations. You want someone financially sound? Where do you measure up? If you want a higher quality partner, look within and start there to become the best quality person you can be.”
So how can you do this? Amélie Southwood, LMHC, EMDR, notes that, “My clients and I often explore this question by first defining or describing the kind of partner she wants, to list his characteristics and personality traits, both good and bad, so as to arrive at a realistic profile. This allows the client to explore the negative traits she is willing to accept and live with. A focused but flexible vision for a partner will help narrow the field, [and] save time and frustration.”
Proceed with informed optimism
It’s impossible to really know what makes sparks fly for the right folks at the right time, but you can for sure prepare yourself for it to happen. If you don’t, you could easily miss out.
As intimidating and sometimes scary as dating can be, it serves you best to keep an open mind about it — especially if you’re actively seeking a desirable partner. By following this advice, you’re doing your best to set yourself up for romantic success. So get out there and charm the pants off of somebody!