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Part 2: How to pick a partner

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Idea Journal Weekly 3

July 3 · Issue #250 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.


Summary: Last week’s issue on how to pick a partner seemed to resonate with many of you, so let’s spend some more time with that theme. This Weekly 3 includes three more ideas to help you choose someone who’s a good fit for you. Thanks for your continued feedback.
(~6 min read)

#1. Embrace rejection
Author and speaker Nicholas Boothman writes that finding the right person for you requires adjusting how you view rejection: “rejection isn’t personal; it’s part of the natural selection process.”
You wouldn’t walk into a furniture store and buy the first sofa you saw. 
Instead, you’d start shopping with a general idea of what you want and then try out one after another until you found one that felt right. And most of the ones you’d reject would be perfectly fine sofas that would be great in someone else’s living room—just not yours. 
As Boothman notes, “You go through the same process of selection when buying a car, a home, and just about anything else of importance to your life, so it’s absurd to think that you’d settle for the first man or woman that came along.”
So, what does this mean in practice?
Putting into practice the principle that there’s no rejection, only selection means that if you’re on a date and things aren’t clicking, it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s not personal—it has nothing to do with you as an individual. It just means that you and your date aren’t complementary types.
Boothman points out that the search for your complementary match is a numbers game. Statistically, roughly one out of sixteen eligible people you meet could be your match.
“Be open to people’s charms, but also be aware that very few of them would be a really great match for you. Likewise, you’re not going to be right for everyone, either.”
How will you know when you find your match?
Boothman recommends reflecting on some time when you saw a piece of clothing or furniture and thought, “Wow! That’s perfect for me.”
Or maybe you had a similar feeling when meeting people who later became your best friends: “It’s that blissful, relaxed feeling of just knowing you’ll get along effortlessly, and probably be friends forever.”
Can you remember how that felt?
Alternatively, you’ve probably met people who made you feel uneasy, even if it was hard to say why. 
Given the choice, which of the above people would you like to spend time with?
Here’s Boothman’s advice: “Close your eyes and relive each feeling. Linger on what it feels like to just know something’s right. Then you’ll understand why rejection is a productive thing.”
#2. Ladies: test for commitment
Author and technology executive Sheryl Sandberg writes in her book Lean In that women who are looking for life partners should date all types of men: “the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys.”
But don’t marry them.
As she puts it: “The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands.”
When the time comes to settle down, she recommends that women find someone who values fairness and wants an equal partner.
For Sandberg, this means a man who thinks women should be ambitious, opinionated, and smart.
She acknowledges that the search for such a partner takes effort, and suggests that it can be helpful to test for signs of commitment and mutual support early on.
Sandberg tells the story of her friend, finance executive Kristina Salen, who devised the following two-step test when she was dating to see if a given boyfriend would support her career:
1. First, she would cancel a date at the last minute claiming she had a professional conflict to see how the guy would react. If he understood and simply rescheduled, she would go out with him again.
2. Then, if the relationship progressed and Salen wanted to take it to the next level, she would conduct the second part of the test. Salen spent part of her career working outside the US, so she would invite the guy to visit her for the weekend—in Sao Paulo. For Salen, it was an effective way to find out if he was willing to fit his schedule around hers.
As Sandberg points out, “the more women value kindness and support in their boyfriends, the more men will demonstrate it.”
#3. Gentlemen: pace yourselves
Author and dating coach Dave Perrotta writes in The Lifestyle Blueprint that many guys fail to pace the relationship. Pacing means slowly building it up so it can naturally grow, so it isn’t forced.”
For Perrotta, pacing is important whether you want something casual and short-term or an exclusive, long-term relationship. 
“Otherwise, it’ll burn fast and flame out quickly, with a lot of unnecessary pain along the way.”
Here are a few examples of where guys go wrong with pacing: 
  • They try to hang out with a woman as much as possible from the outset (three to four times a week).
  • They try to force the start of a relationship before she brings it up.
  • They remove themselves from dating apps right away.
The problem with getting off to a hot and heavy start is that once this expectation is set, it’s hard to change things
As Perrotta puts it: 
“If you go from hanging out four times a week to hanging out twice a week, it’ll feel like things are fading. What’s worse, it’s hard to ‘build’ from hanging out four times a week. To do that, you’ve basically got to hang out every night, or it feels like it’s stagnating.”
Here are a few examples of a better approach with pacing: 
  • Limit hanging out to one or two times a week for the first month or two.
  • Let her be the first to bring up any relationship talk, and aim to keep things open-ended at least for the first few months. 
  • Keep casually dating other women until the two of you decide to become exclusive.
Pacing not only makes her miss you more and appreciate your time together—it also allows you to build things slowly and vet her as a potential relationship partner. 
“You’ve got time to spot any red flags that might be deal-breakers (so you can avoid a bad relationship) and make any relationship decisions from a healthy place.”
Quote of the week
“No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved.”
- Author and journalist Mignon McLaughlin in her book The Complete Neurotic’s Notebook
Idea Journal
Idea Journal
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