What do you think is the biggest decision of your life? If you’re single and interested in having a family of your own one day, I would suggest, it’s choosing a life partner to have children with.
Choose the wrong job – hey people do that all the time – get another one.
Choose the wrong house and two years later you can move. (Hey, rent the wrong house you can move in two months!)
But choose the wrong partner, and then have kids with them, and well … even with a divorce, you’re going to have to deal with that person … pretty much forever.
Yet, so often, people waste years on a relationship based on the hope and fantasy that one day this person will change into the person they want them to be. In the meantime, they over-invest, giving their time, emotions, energy and intimacy to this person, despite the fact that the actual relationship yields little return.
And in contrast to what we are told in fairy tales… sometimes love just isn’t enough. The truth is – we can fall in love with all kinds of people – yet some of them, realistically just won’t be compatible with the life we want to create for ourselves.
With that in mind, it’s important to recognise that – like it or not – dating is an evaluation process.
It’s an opportunity for us to get to know someone and then decide how far we want to go with them – how much of our lives and valuable time we want to invest. All the while taking note of how willing they are to invest in a life with us in return.
And to be really clear, this evaluation process often takes more than just a date or two. In fact, it needs to continue all the way up until you choose to have kids together, because after that point, you’re locked in, to various degrees, for life.
Yet most people put more thought into choosing a car they are going to drive for only a few years – when a relationship can last 10, 20, even 30+ years.
Seriously! When we’re looking at buying a car, there is a lot to consider…
Often we will start by looking at our budget – how much are we are willing to invest at this stage of our lives? How much time do we expect to be with it? Is it a long-term or temporary investment?
If it’s a used car, we’ll also want to know a bit about its history – does it have a good track record? Is it safe and reliable? Does it have any ongoing issues? And why did the previous owners get rid of it?
Then, we’ll often take it for a test drive to see how it responds to us as a driver… and if we’re really doing our homework, we’ll also find other options to compare it with – maybe even take those out for a test drive too…
That’s how we buy cars. Guess how often people use even half of this evaluative process to choose a partner?
Would you find it weird thinking about relationships in this way?
Yet this kind of approach could potentially save us from a LOT of heart break.
For the record, I’m not talking about stepping away from romance altogether and just using logic to choose a partner – that can be just as dangerous as only following your feelings. I’m actually encouraging an all-encompassing path – a union of the head and the heart because as we become more conscious in our decision-making process, we actually protect the romance.
The thing is, people often choose a partner without even stopping to make a decision.
When I ask clients ‘how did you end up with the father of your children?’ I hear things like, ‘Well we were dating, then the lease on his apartment came up … so we moved in together to save some money and then boom, three years later here we are with a kid.’
The reality is, not-making a considered decision often becomes a decision in itself.
The fact that most people do not really consciously choose their partner is a reality that pervades our culture.
So how do we ‘evaluate’? What should we be looking for?
Well before we even jump into that, we first have to get comfortable with being single so that we’re not falling into relationships out of sheer loneliness.
Then, we need to get in touch with our vision of what a beautiful relationship looks like – so that it’s clear when a potential partner is contributing or taking away from our enjoyment of our life. This will be a little different for everyone and well worth taking the time to uncover for yourself.
Third, we have to be willing to walk away from relationships that aren’t nourishing, remembering that as we get out of relationships that are not serving us, we create space in our lives for someone who is more aligned to what we are looking for.
This is the beauty of approaching dating as an evaluation process – it protects us from unnecessary heartbreak because we’re moving more slowly and consciously… all the while looking for consistency of character and for a partner who is just as invested and excited about the relationship as we are – because there’s no use in chasing a fantasy.
Doing so can be the difference between a rough ride and your happily ever after.
Pssst! This article is an excerpt from a talk I gave earlier this year at an event called SHETalks. Click here to watch it and get the full download.
P.S. Interested in learning more about this evaluation process and how to choose a worthy life partner? Get in touch to learn more about my 1:1 coaching programs, group courses and retreats and together we can unpack this evaluation process and what it means personally for you. We’ll also deep into attraction dynamics so that you can approach the dating scene with more clarity and insight and experience a happy, healthy, safe, secure and passionate long-term relationship.