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How to Figure out Your Dating Non-Negotiables

How to Figure out Your Dating Non-Negotiables

If you never want to repeat your mistakes of the past,

it might be time to assess what your dating “Must Haves” and “Can’t Stands” are.

Dating is cool and all when you’re just dating to date. You get the drinks or the meal and you meet the person. You have a good or not-so-good conversation and you kiss or don’t kiss. You have a good or not-so-good time.

But when you’re dating because you don’t want to keep dating, because you’re ready to find that special person that makes you never want to go on a first date with anyone else ever again, then it’s a little different. You need a plan.

There’s where figuring out your non-negotiables comes in. This is your blueprint for love. Your love map of desired qualities, values, and boundaries. What you will and won’t compromise on.

Here’s how to make your own:

1. Do them now.
If you’re single, recently out of a relationship, and/or dating casually, now’s the perfect time to figure out exactly what you want in your next serious relationship.

This is the best time because it’s easy to convince yourself to overlook certain things if you’re already in a relationship. You’ll ultimately be unsatisfied in with someone if they can’t give you what you want/need.

2. Dream.
You deserve the very best relationship you can imagine. Seriously. Don’t settle for mediocre. Let your imagination run wild.

What does your IDEAL relationship look like? How does it make you feel? How would they show you that they love you? How would you like the two of you to fight or resolve conflict?

Now, think about if there’s anything you should add by answering these questions: What was missing in past relationships? What do you admire about the healthy relationships around you? What makes your closest friendships work?

Once you’ve answered the above questions, you should have a clear list of “Must Haves.”

Now try to challenge your “Must Haves” list: Would it be okay if your sweetheart had a different faith? If they didn’t have the same sense of humor as you? If they didn’t want kids?

If the answer is “no” to any of the above questions, then you’ve uncovered a dating deal-breaker/ “Can’t Stand.”

3. List them.
Write down a clear list of “Can’t Stands” and “Must Haves.” Don’t worry about the length of it. Just write down everything you do and don’t want in your next dating relationship, so it’s easy to see.

4. Trim it down.
Highlight the things that matter the most to you. You want to create a list of manageable length. Consider having only 5 to 10 “Can’t Stands” and 5 to 10 “Must Haves.” These are things you will not compromise on or sacrifice. Also make sure they are ones you can easily remember.

Popular non-negotiables include sense of humor, chemistry, good communication skills, and reliability.

5. Share with a friend.
It’s always good to get a second opinion on your list. Choose someone who knows about your dating history and whose feedback you would trust.

Then ask if they’d be willing to hold you accountable to that list. When you start dating someone new, see if they’d be willing to check in with you by asking you a question like, “Does ______ have the qualities on your list? Do they have any of the ‘Can’t Stands?’”

6. Be honest with your date(s).
Now that you have a list, it’s time for you to be proactive about seeking out people who have the qualities you deem essential. You can suss this out by using your list to help guide your first conversations with someone new.

If someone has a different faith than you, for example, and that’s a “Can’t Stand”/dealbreaker, then there would be no reason for you to pursue something further with them. It may seem harsh, but it’s better to discover that you’re incompatible early on than get emotionally attached to a relationship that has no future.

7. Be honest with yourself.
Sometimes a non-negotiable list can highlight our own issues. You might have “honest” as a “Must Have” for your next partner, but you struggle with being forthright yourself.

As you determine what you want in a relationship, make sure to evaluate yourself based on the same list. You can’t expect to attract a partner that has qualities that you don’t cultivate in yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with dating just to date. It can be super fun and a great time to explore what you want and what you definitely don’t want. But if you’re ready to spend your nights cuddled up next to someone instead of on the dating scene, then date intentionally. You can do that the best by having your list of non-negotiables.

Happy loving!

Featured Image by:  Stefano Pollio on Unsplash


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