My first dating experience after my divorce was in 2011 at age 57, leading me to “Sam” who sadly died after we were together for only 3 years. The second was at age 63, leading me to find my ideal partner, Cosmo.
In my other career I’m a job search strategist. Through that work, I came to understand that dating and job search follow a very similar path.
For my dating strategy, I had the benefit of using the fine-tuned process I’ve developed for my job-seeking clients.
Is it too calculating and impersonal to follow an actual step-by-step strategy to find your ideal partner?
Shouldn’t things just unfold naturally?
It would be nice if they did, but don’t count on it.
You’ll improve your chances of being successful if you take the time to prepare, and then use strategies that are known to work.
You’ll be more likely to find your ideal partner.
You’ll be less likely to have lousy first dates because you won’t waste time on people who will not make you happy in the long term.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what kind of person will be right for you – before going on first dates – how will you know them when you see them?
Just like in job search, where step one is determining what companies will be a good mutual fit, with dating, step one is determining who your ideal partner is.
My dating efforts focused almost entirely on online dating.
I also tried meeting people the old-fashioned way (asking everyone I knew if they knew someone) and I scoped out meet-ups and other activities, but didn’t have much luck.
Quickly I determined that the biggest pool of potential partners was on dating sites, so that’s where I had to be.
I was leery of these sites at first.
I paid too much attention to friends who turned up their noses at online dating. They told me that’s where the losers were who couldn’t find someone any other way.
If I had listened to them and didn’t use dating services, I never would have met Cosmo . . . even though he had lived right across the street from me for 7 years!
Whether or not you’re going to use online dating sites, my advice in this article will apply.
But before you dive in, be sure you know what your intentions are with dating:
- Are you only interested in quick, sexual hook-ups?
- Do you want to find someone for companionship or friendship only – no sex?
- Or, are you looking for a “forever” romantic partner with all the bells and whistles?
My Own 4-Step Process for Determining Who My Ideal Partner Was
1. I looked back at my disastrous marriage, which ended in 2004, and considered what things about my ex I wouldn’t accept in a new partner.
I spent a lot of time on this. Without sorting it all out beforehand, I risked making the same mistakes again.
After Sam died and I was ready to date again, I looked closely at my relationship with him, so I would know what qualities I DID want in my new partner.
Many of us date in search of our soul mate. This may be what drives you to find your ideal partner.
In a Psychology Today article about whether you should even believe in soul mates, social psychologist Jeremy Nicholson says:
“If an individual finds they are repeatedly falling in love with the ‘perfect partner, only to be disappointed and dumping them soon after, their belief in soul mates may be to blame. It may cause them to give up when things are not perfect (but may be still good or great). It may motivate them to not compromise, work, or change, when others don’t love them completely for being exactly as they are.”
2. I wrote down a list of my core values and things I needed in a relationship.
I recently found a folder with notes about my two times in the dating go-round. In the folder I found my original list of core values, written in 2011:
- Committed to making a relationship work, even when things go bad
- Willing to compromise and negotiate problems/disagreements
- Good communication in general
- Sensitivity to, and respect for, each other’s feelings
- Keeping promises – not promising what you know you can’t (or don’t want to) deliver
- Mutually supportive of each other’s non-shared interests
- Willing and eager to learn from, and grow with, each other
My marriage had none of the above, but my relationship with Sam came close. My relationship now with Cosmo entirely does.
3. I put together a list of the personal/physical attributes and character qualities he must and must NOT have.
These were the absolute deal breakers.
He had to be:
- Kind (truly my number one must-have, and Cosmo’s too)
- Courteous and polite
- Forthright and honest
- Emotionally healthy
- Optimistic and positive
- Even tempered
- Giving and generous
- A good listener
- In relatively good health and fit, someone who took good care of himself
- My height or taller (I know, this is superficial, but it was important to me)
- Pleasant to look at
- Shares and appreciates my sense of humor and silliness
- Someone who laughs out loud
- Someone who appreciates the serenity of quiet times together
- Somewhat of a homebody, as happy nestling in at home as he is going out
He could NOT be:
- An excessive talker
- A negative, complaining person
- Someone who brought too much of his past relationship(s) – good and bad – into a new one
- A biker dude
- A smoker (of anything – cigarettes, cigars, weed, etc.)
- A drinker (I don’t drink and don’t want to live with someone who does)
- A hunter and/or gun collector (I don’t want to live in a house with guns)
- A sports enthusiast who would nag me to get involved too
- More than 5 or so years younger, or more than 3 or so years older (I was lenient with this).
4. I listed the lifestyle and activities/interests I HOPED to share with him.
These were not deal breakers, just added bonuses:
- A love of music and movies, similar tastes to mine
- Someone who liked to cook and work together in the kitchen
- Someone who enjoyed all different kinds of cuisines, and dining out occasionally
- A love of writing, and preferably blogging
- Someone who liked to dance
How To Determine Who Your Ideal Partner Is
I hope my lists above help you get started. Maybe I didn’t cover all the bases, but I was pretty thorough.
When we get to be 60 and over, we’ve all had serious romantic relationships that worked or didn’t work. Start by examining the things you loved about them, and the things you don’t want to deal with again.
This work is necessary to find your ideal partner.
Zero in on the character qualities, physical attributes, values, lifestyle, activities and interests that appeal to you, and those that don’t.
For instance, unlike mine, your deal breakers may include:
- You don’t want someone whose politics are different than yours.
- You don’t want someone whose religion is different than yours, or someone who’s anti-religion or doesn’t believe in God.
These things are critical to some people, but didn’t matter much to me. Sam and I were on opposing sides for both issues, but it didn’t negatively impact the relationship.
Be realistic. Don’t rule people out too quickly.
And be realistic. At 60 and older we all have many shortcomings and things about us that may not be desirable to potential partners. Don’t expect them to overlook things in you that you’re not willing to overlook in them.
Another thing to be aware of. Don’t be so specific in your criteria that you rule out some great contenders.
Cosmo briefly – thankfully, very briefly – had these 5 criteria for his ideal partner. She must:
- Be a pilot and own her own plane.
- Go to Mass every day.
- Be a small business owner.
- Own her own home.
- Have a nice car.
He learned quickly that he was impossibly narrowing his search. If he had insisted on the first two in his list, he never would have gone on a date with me.
And one other thing to be aware of . . . if you’re resistant to online dating.
With online dating, you’ll be able to determine much easier whether some people do or don’t fit some of your criteria, before you actually meet them in person. Unless they haven’t filled out anything in their profile, you’ll get some information about them, which will help you decide if you want to reach out to them.