REAL dating is back on the agenda as lockdown eases but behavioural scientist Logan Ury, who leads a research team for dating app Hinge, says it is time we threw out what we thought we knew about love.
Looking for that initial spark? Forget it. Always go for a certain type? Time to change. Believe the right relationship will be effortless? Wrong.
Dating rules to ditch for finding love & why looking for ‘the spark’ is the biggest mistake you can makeCredit: Shutterstock
Logan says: “While love may be a natural instinct, we’re not born knowing how to choose the right partner.”
Below are passages adapted from her book – How To Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love – to help you find that elusive long-lasting relationship.
BIN YOUR CHECKLIST – YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Years of relationship science have revealed what matters for long-term success — things such as emotional stability, kindness, loyalty and how that person makes us feel.
Yet modern daters often focus on the wrong things, such as how much money someone makes, how tall they are or whether you and they have enough hobbies in common.
Real dating is back on the agenda as lockdown easesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Daters also often make the mistake of having a checklist. Must be over 6ft tall. Must make a six-figure income. Must dress well.
But the truth is, most of us have no idea what kind of partner will fulfil us in the long term. The qualities we think we want are often not the qualities possessed by the person who will make us happiest in the long run.
And unlike in real life, where you meet all sorts of people, dating apps never give you the chance to be proved wrong — because you can weed out the people you think are not your “type” before you ever meet anyone.
So adjust your filters. Right now. Could you be more flexible on age, either way? And would you really not date a great person outside your stated required height range?
Daters often make the mistake of having a checklistCredit: Shutterstock
F*** THE SPARK – IT COULD MEAN HE’S A NARCISSIST: When you’re going on dates, you may be looking for that instant connection. Sudden, sexy, intoxicating. Everyone else in the room fades into the background. You feel alive.
You know what I’m talking about: The spark. I get it, the spark is wonderful. But you know what? F*** the spark. It’s one of the most dangerous ideas in dating. It leads us to miss out on amazing partners because we fail to see their potential.
We’re plagued by myths around the spark…
- Myth 1: When you meet the right person, you’ll feel instant fireworks. Wrong. Fireworks and instant chemistry are often absent at the beginning of a relationship but build over time.
- Myth 2: The spark is always a good thing. Know that the feeling of chemistry may actually be anxiety because the person doesn’t make it clear how they feel about you. Sometimes the presence of a spark is more an indication of how charming someone is, or how narcissistic, and less a sign of a shared connection.
- Myth 3: If you have a spark, the relationship is viable. Even if the spark leads to a long relationship, it’s not enough to stick with it. Some couples stay together longer than they should, because of the spark. Many divorced couples once had the spark. Don’t stay in the wrong relationship because you met the right way.
Scientist Logan Ury leads a research team for dating app Hinge
DON’T SLIDE INTO THE NEXT STAGE – DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT: Psychologists describe two ways couples transition into the next stage of a relationship: Deciding or sliding.
Deciding means making intentional choices about relationship transitions, such as becoming exclusive or having children. Sliding entails slipping into the next stage without giving it much thought.
Couples who decide tend to enjoy healthier relationships. Defining the relationship and moving in together are two important relationship transitions.
When you start seeing someone, don’t make assumptions about whether you are in a relationship. You need to define the relationship to ensure that you are on the same page about where you are and where you are headed.
How To Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love is out now
Moving in together makes you more likely to slide into marriage, so it’s important that you take this step seriously and talk about what it means for your future.
GUESS WHAT? THE INITIAL EXCITEMENT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO LAST: When people are deciding whether they should end it or mend it, they fall into two categories: Ditchers or Hitchers.
Ditchers leave relationships too quickly, without giving them a chance to develop.
They confuse falling in love with being in love, and expect the whole relationship to offer that same initial excitement.
When you start seeing someone, don’t make assumptions about whether you are in a relationshipCredit: Alamy
To figure out whether to stay or go, consider your historical tendencies and determine if you’ve given it a fair chance.
If you’re a Ditcher who has tried to address the issues in the relationship and it hasn’t worked, then you should leave the relationship. This may not be the right person.
But you’re not off the hook yet. It’s important that you keep your Ditcher tendency in mind. The next time you’re in a relationship and you feel that familiar urge to leave, make sure you are bidding adieu for the right reasons.
INVESTED IN A RELATIONSHIP? DON’T WAIT FOREVER FOR A RETURN: Hitchers stay in relationships too long and continue to invest in them because of something called the sunk-cost fallacy. It’s the feeling that once you invest in something, you should see it through.
The qualities we think we want are often not the qualities possessed by the person who will make us happiestCredit: Shutterstock
If you’re a Ditcher or a Hitcher who hasn’t given the relationship a real chance (for example, you haven’t brought your best self to it): Stay in the relationship and see what happens when you are patient and fully invested.
Relationships go through natural ups and downs. The longer the relationship, the more likely it is that there will be periods when relationship satisfaction dips. It’s important to recognise that often a low point is not a breaking (or break-up) point.
But if you’re a Hitcher who has given this relationship a chance and it isn’t working, then leave the relationship. It’s going to be painful for both of you, but it’s time to move on. Why spend more months or even years of your life in something that isn’t working?
- Adapted by Natasha Harding from How To Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love, by Logan Ury (Piatkus, £14.99) out now.
LOGAN URY has categorised the most common blind spots into a framework called The Three Dating Tendencies.
Each group struggles with unrealistic expectations of themselves, of partners, and of romantic relationships. Can you identify which one you fall into?
The most common blind spots can be categorised into The Three Dating TendenciesCredit: Shutterstock
You have unrealistic expectations of relationships.
You want the soulmate, the happily ever after, the whole fairy tale. You believe you are single because you haven’t met the right person yet.
Your motto: It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen. But here’s the problem – you expect that someone will find you and if that person is your soulmate, the relationship will be effortless. But love takes work. If it feels like effort, you’re doing it right.
You have unrealistic expectations of your partner.
You love exploring all your options until you’re sure you’ve found the right one, and to be 100 per cent certain about it before you make your choice.
Your motto: Why settle? If you hope to get married or commit to a long-term relationship, you’ll ultimately need to make a choice with what you know.
What’s your goal? Is it to make the perfect decision, or to be happy? If it’s happiness you’re after, find someone special and invest.
You have unrealistic expectations of yourself.
You’re not yet the person you want to be. You say: “I’ll date when I lose ten pounds, I’ll date when I get promoted.”
GET BACK OUT THERE
BEHAVIOURAL science warns us of the intention-action gap, when we intend to do something but don’t take the steps to make it happen. The following techniques will help:
Step 1: Make a deadline to start dating – I suggest three weeks from now. That’s enough time to do what you need to do first, but not so long that you lose momentum.
Step 2: Prep – download the apps, assemble a few date outfits that make you feel great and ask a friend to help take some flattering photo.
Step 3: Tell others – let two or three of your closest friends or family members know that you’re serious about dating and share your deadline with them.
Step 4: Start small – Try to go on at least one date a week and make sure that there’s room in your diary for said date.
You think one day you’ll wake up and be worthy of love.
Your motto: I’ll wait until I’m a catch. There’s no such thing as being 100 per cent ready for anything.
You will never be perfect, and neither will the person you wind up with. Don’t wait, date.
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