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What do people look for in a person they date?

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AshTproductions | Shutterstock
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What are the biggest factors people take into consideration when looking for a potential mate?

A study from early this year shows that the biggest concern people have when it comes to a potential mate is whether they agree on having children. Agreement on smoking or not smoking is a close second. After that comes politics and religion. Makes sense right? Children, smoking,  politics, and religion all affect our lifestyle pretty significantly. 

But after reading that study I clicked on the next study in my search results. And it said something very different about what people value in potential significant others when they’re dating. One said that you’ll know a good date by how clean and tidy he or she is compared to you, while other studies show that people want dates with good work ethics and who look put together.

It’s confusing to look at such varied answers until you realize that the results you get from studies like this all depend on what kind of relationship you’re asking about. There are some studies that look at what people want in a long-term relationship, and others are just looking at short-term dates. 

But to add another layer, studies like these only look at what people think or say they want. What some studies point out in their discussion of findings is that people say they want certain things, or think certain things are important, but then when it comes to actually dating someone, they don’t often act in accordance with what they said they wanted. Even if your friend Vivian says she’ll never marry a Democrat who likes dogs, she somehow falls in love with and marries Chris, who leans left politically and has a golden retriever. And they end up living happily ever after.

So in that way, the pressure is off. Because people don’t actually know what they want! However, if you want to develop solid skills to be the best date (and then someday spouse) that you can be, here are some suggestions. (These are things that any long-term relationship needs to survive). 

1
A sense of sacrifice

A long-term relationship and a marriage will stop working as soon as one or both people in the relationship stop sacrificing for the other. You must be able to put someone else first in your life for real connection to work. If you struggle with that, work on it starting today. And if your date does not have that ability, that person is not someone you should spend the rest of your life with.

2
Honesty

If you never feel like you can be fully honest with someone, your relationship won’t thrive or go very far. And if someone lies to you about little things, it will be almost impossible to trust him or her when it comes to bigger issues. If you tend to lie about small things, try to pinpoint the cause. A fear of looking bad? A desire to always be right? Finding the root might help you break the habit, and help you save your next relationship. 

3
Ability to communicate

Many people are not great at communicating, especially when it comes to sharing feelings and expectations. But you have to be willing to get better at communication. This includes a willingness to listen, and a willingness to be vulnerable. Thankfully, you can easily practice these in any important relationship you have — be that a good friendship or a sibling or parent relationship. 

4
Owning who you are

If you’re not comfortable with who you are, it will be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. Confidence is incredibly attractive, and adds a huge amount of stability and depth to a partnership. If you have never been comfortable in your own skin, now is a great time to start addressing that! Find supportive friends, seek some counseling, and embrace the things you enjoy doing. 

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