If You're Going To Start Dating To Find A Partner, Remember These 4 Things

People date for many reasons — because they’re bored, they're trying to figure out what they're looking for, they're hoping it’ll help them get over an ex, and because it’s just plain fun, to name a few. But if you’re dating to find a partner specifically, then it’s a whole different ball game. There are certain things you’ll need to remember in order to get one step closer to meeting “The One” (or at the very least, the one for RN). Not only that, but there are other things to be mindful of in order to maintain your sanity throughout the dating process.

One of my best friends from college recently declared that she was on this very mission. “I’m so done f*cking around,” she told me after another almost-relationship ended a few months in. “I’m looking for my person.” IMHO, this simple declaration is the first important step toward finding a partner. Acknowledging what you’re looking for out loud can be a powerful act that eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Once you’ve admitted that you’re dating with this particular goal in mind, you can start the super exciting process of seeking out your next prospective boo. And don’t forget to keep these crucial things in mind while you’re at it.

Talk about your intentions early.
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It can be difficult to tell what someone is looking for, especially in the early stages of dating. And in an age where casual dating is as common as a kale salad, it’s super important to make sure that you explicitly communicate your intentions from the get-go. In fact, you might even put a little blurb in your dating profile that indicates you're not looking for a hookup so people who are strictly dating casually can keep swiping. And you should also make it a point to ask what your date is looking for the first or second time you hang out. Once you’ve had some time to talk and you feel a bit more comfortable, you can ask something like, “Hey, what made you sign up for Tinder? Are you searching for something in particular?” or “Would you say you’re more into casual dating right now, or are you more looking for a relationship?” Then it’s time to make your intentions known.

If your date gets awkward, or mysteriously ghosts you after this date, no sweat. The whole point of doing this early on is to weed out the ones who aren’t on the same page. After all, why would you want to waste time going on dates with someone who has no interest in committing? Taking this step may feel intimidating at first, but remember: It’s the best way to boost your chances of finding your future bae — someone who genuinely wants the same thing you do, and isn’t afraid to acknowledge it.

Identify your must-haves.
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I’m a big list-maker. It helps me to keep my thoughts organized and my anxiety under control. But not only that — making a list naturally helps to keep you accountable. When you write something down, you’re more likely to actually do it. So, consider making a list of all the qualities that you consider essential in a partner. Remember — needs are different from wants, which are negotiable. Needs tend to include a person’s values, goals, and personality traits. They are the traits that you might not pick up on by simply catching a glimpse of them across a bar or scoping out their dating app profile picture. In other words, height, eye color, hair color, or body type probably don’t belong on this list. Rather, this list is about honing on the qualities that give a person long-term partner potential for you.

Once you've drawn up your list, don't just forget about it. Revisit it after a stellar date or a total dud. That way, you can remind yourself of what you're looking for. Not only that, but you'll likely need to revise the list over time, as you realize through the dating process what's most important to you.

Speaking of lists, it’s also a good idea to identify what you’re not looking for. If you’re not interested in dating someone who’s a different religion or significantly younger than you, then knowing these dealbreakers will help you weed through prospective matches much more easily.

Pursue your passions to find someone like-minded.
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If you’re eager to meet someone the old-fashioned way — IRL — then there’s hardly a better way to do that then by joining a group, taking a class, or attending an event that involves your interests. That way, you know you automatically have something in common with all the cuties you meet.

So, if you love animals, look for volunteering opportunities that involve some furry friends. If you’re a craft beer nerd, take a homebrewing class. Or, if fitness is a big part of your life, join a new running group or softball league.

Be careful, however, about getting involved in something solely with the expectation of meeting a partner. While taking advantage of these opportunities may help with your search for an SO, they’re also opportunities for self-development. So just do you — and focus on participating in things that make you feel happy, fulfilled, and engaged. Without a doubt, that kind of passion and joy will only make you more enticing to the next person you meet.

Keep a lookout for red flags.
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If you’re dating with the intention of pursuing a relationship, there are certain signs you should look out for on the first few dates that may indicate your date isn’t partner material.

For example, if your date is sending you mixed signals — as in, they’re really into you one day, but then go MIA the next — that’s a red flag for sure.

Or, if your date keeps bringing up their ex, that could be a sign that they’re not over their last relationship (which, in turn, means they’re likely not ready to commit to a new one).

If your date gets a tad aggressive about coming inside your apartment at the end of the night or gets squeamish when you even so much as hint at the idea of commitment, those are other red flags that their intentions aren't likely in line with yours.

Arguably, the most important thing to remember when you’re dating with the hope of finding a significant other is to stay curious and open-minded. This is a learning process, after all, and you’re bound to be met with a few surprises along the way. Maybe that Tinder match who didn’t look like your type actually wows you on the first date. Or maybe, you realize through your experiences that finding someone who’s just as punctual or planning-minded as you is actually super important to you. As they say, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Every single experience you have will have some kind of value, and when you look at it that way, no date will be a waste of time — only a chance to get one step closer to the right person for you.