Should I Date Him/Her/Them?
The “Should I’s?” that many of us face in our day-to-day decision making are infinite. The question of should we make for dinner, should we go do a workout, should we go to bed early, or should we finish a Netflix show are questions we may run into on a daily or even hourly basis. Even though we may deliberate, we typically find ourselves at a conclusion quite quickly without needing much advice from others. However, when it comes to our relationships in who we “should” or “shouldn’t” date, we often find ourselves in the midst of a dilemma.
We may enjoy the initial process of getting to know someone, and then ask ourselves if we should take things further. We even may speak with friends and family for support. Finding validation from people we trust, as to whether or not we are making the right choice can play a big role in our sense of safety and security, giving us the foundation to move forward with someone in romantic relationships. While guidance from others can be comforting, it is of great value to identify which specific qualities are important to us and then explore these in discussion with potential partners.
Psychology has taught us the red flags of dating, our attachment styles in dating, how to set boundaries when dating, tests on relationship capability, love languages, and more, but do we really know if we should give someone a try or not? In working with clients, I often share reminders that all the advice we receive from friends is subjective, meaning that all feedback given to us is directly correlated with someone’s own personal experiences. However, research also states that there are some characteristics that are important to value and look for within relationships.
Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., tells us that there are some “essential” qualities that one should look for in a romantic partner, such as kindness and loyalty, similarities (in terms of attitudes and values), conscientiousness (one who is organized and reliable), emotional stability (one who maintains lower levels of anxiety, more understanding for others, and more patience), and beliefs that relationships can work. Dr. Seidman also states that these qualities are often correlated with the success of a long-term relationship.
Autonomy is important to remember as we navigate through the world of dating. Experts may give us guidelines and general high-quality traits, but some experts offer the advice that we should decide what we want and create our own list of traits that we value! Many experts also state that identifying qualities that matter most to us are beneficial to us finding our happiness by knowing who we are, how we like to spend our time in our relationships, our routines, how much closeness and space we need, our outlets, our work lives, any spiritual practices, our lifestyles overall, and more. Obtaining this knowledge enables us to identify which areas of our lives we may be able to compromise on or not. This all comes down to personal preference. It is helpful to spend time getting to know ourselves to better identify what we may need from others in a relationship, as well as what we offer others in a relationship. This creates internal stability, clarity in our own preferences, confidence in our desires, and confidence in our decision-making.
In discussing freedom of choice, we may begin to rephrase the question from, “Should I date him/her/them?” to, “Do I want to date him/her/them?” It is beneficial to keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer. There is only what feels right or wrong to you and feel secure in your ability to make choices that are healthy for you. Experts and loved ones can offer us guidance, but your opinion and your voice are what matter most.
If you would like some support in your relationships, explore our counseling services online to see how we can help, and contact Symmetry Counseling to get paired with a therapist in Chicago, Washington D.C., or Phoenix.
Jacob, C. (2021). How to Figure Out What You Want in a Relationship. www.upjourney.com
Seidman, G. (2017). 5 Essential Qualities for a Romantic Partner. www.psychologytoday.com
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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