One of the primary reasons women find themselves frustrated with dating in today’s culture is because “dating” means very different things to all of us. For some people, dating equals hooking up and enjoying a holiday fling or dating someone you like but have no idea if you’re compatible long-term! Meanwhile, other people are dating with more of a purpose and a future life vision, such as marriage and kids. Neither one of these is right or wrong. But the friction occurs when these two people meet, and both assume that the other has the same intention of dating!
If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, dating with a purpose is crucial. In this article, I’ll explain what dating with a purpose means, why it’s important, and 14 tips on how to put it into practice.
Dating with a purpose is how you avoid discovering three months later that the guy doesn’t want kids when you’ve had your heart set on being a mother forever. We don’t want that. Your time is far too precious!
What does dating with a purpose mean?
Imagine this. You want to drive from New York to LA and make a big road trip out of it. The first thing you’d probably do (after getting giddy with excitement) is open up a map and plan your route, right? That’s the most sensible way to ensure you get where you want to go.
This is what dating with a purpose looks like.
But imagine you decide to embark on this road trip without a map. Imagine you decide to jump in your car, drive in any direction you feel like, and hope you end up going the right way. There’s a big chance you’ll end up lost, driving in circles, and totally frustrated! And you’re unlikely ever to reach LA.
This is what dating without a purpose looks like.
If you have an end goal in mind, like a long-term relationship, marriage, or kids, or you have certain values (which we all do) and want to find someone who shares those same values, then you’ve got to start dating with a purpose.
Doing whatever we feel like and just “going with the flow” or “following our heart” sounds nice and fluffy, but this can be heartbreaking. If you’ve ever dated someone, fell for them, only to find you want different things much later down the line, you’ll know what I mean.
Dating with a purpose means knowing what you want and where you want to go, and you’re always mindful of this when meeting new guys.
Should you date with a purpose?
What is the point of dating with a purpose? Here’s how it will transform your dating experience for the better.
1. It will help you avoid heartbreak
As I mentioned, there’s nothing worse than falling head over heels in love with a man, dreaming of a future together, and believing it will last forever, only to eventually find out he doesn’t want the same things as you.
Maybe he’s only looking for something casual right now. Perhaps he has no intention of ever getting married, and that’s a deal-breaker for you. Or maybe he gets a great job opportunity over in Australia, but you don’t want to move to Australia because you’re a home bird, but you’ve never talked about this until now.
Inevitably, you’re going to break up. And while some breakups can’t be avoided, this could have been if only you had been dating with a purpose from the start.
2. You’ll meet your love vision
When you date with purpose, you’ve taken the time to figure out what you want (this is what I call Little Love Step #2). This means you’re much more likely to enter into a relationship with a man who is highly compatible with you because you’re on the lookout for these qualities, characteristics, behaviors, and values.
3. You’ll have a clear picture of what your future relationship will look like
When dating with a clear purpose, you will ask those deeper, more insightful questions on a date that others overlook. This doesn’t mean you need to turn your dates into interviews (don’t do that!). But it does mean finding the courage to be unapologetic about what you want and asking the right questions to help you figure out if he is in alignment with that.
When you do this early on, you get a clear picture of your future relationship and shared life vision (Little Love Step #7). This helps you both avoid jumping into the wrong relationship and gives you greater clarity.
4. It cultivates relationship security
It’s normal to have arguments and disagreements in any relationship, whether with friends, family, or your partner. But if you’re insecure in your relationship, the tiniest bit of friction can send your head spinning and leave you wondering whether the relationship will end.
Dating with a purpose massively alters this dynamic because you’ve already had those big conversations. You know your partner wants to build a future with you because they’ve been vocal about it. So when you have a lover’s tiff, even though it sucks, you’re secure in your relationship. You’re not freaking out wondering if the rug will be pulled out from under your feet at any moment.
5. Your relationship will be stronger
Finally, dating with a purpose will help you build a healthier, more stable relationship because neither of you is holding back, and you’ve both layed your cards on the table. You both know the kind of relationship you want, and you’ve made a conscious choice to be together because you believe you can give each other what you want.
You’ll have shared trust, loyalty, and a far better understanding of each other than couples who don’t know if they’re on the same page and are just hoping they are!
14 tips for dating with a purpose
1. Let go of your past relationship experiences
The first step in dating with a purpose is to work through any trauma or baggage from past relationships. If we don’t give ourselves the time and space and put ourselves in the best place to heal, then we can’t fully move forward with anyone else. You’ll always have a part of you still clinging to the past. And that won’t feel good for you, and it won’t be fair to your new partner.
So do whatever you need to do to fully let go of any previous relationships before you start dating again so that you’re in a position to embrace someone new.
2. Build yourself back up
If you have been in a toxic (or abusive) relationship, there’s a high chance this has impacted your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.
You might hold limiting beliefs such as, “I’m not worthy of love,” or “there’s no one out there for me.” And if you start dating again with these beliefs, you’re not going to attract your dream man because you’re subconsciously repelling him and repelling love. There’s also a chance that you’ll seek validation and happiness from men rather than feeling good about who you are from within, which is unhealthy.
This is why Little Love Step #1 of my Little Love Steps is dedicated to building your confidence and self-worth before you start joining dating apps and meeting new guys.
3. Trust yourself
Trust is an essential foundation for any healthy, long-term relationship. But before you can trust your partner, you must cultivate that trust with yourself.
For example, if you have attachment wounds or a history of choosing toxic partners, you might be in a place where you don’t trust yourself to make good choices, which can lead to you making even more bad choices!
Deep down, you know what’s good for you and what’s not good for you. For example, when you choose to eat a bacon sandwich instead of a green smoothie for breakfast, you know that the sandwich is not good for you and that the smoothie is. We all know that. Yet, many of us still choose to eat the sandwich! A sandwich now and then is fine and won’t hurt you. But too many sandwiches will start to stack up.
4. Know yourself
You can’t date with purpose until you know who you are.
When was the last time you asked yourself this question and gave it some real thought?
What makes this even more challenging is that who we are is always changing. We are evolving every single minute of every day. That’s what life is all about. So who you were ten years ago, five years ago, or even last year might be very different from who you are today.
Having this self-awareness will serve you immensely when dating. When a man comes along and says he’s looking for X, Y, and Z, but you’re more of an A, B, and C woman, you’ll immediately know that it’s not a match and quickly say, NEXT!
5. Know who you want
In my love accelerator program, I encourage all my clients to create a “love vision” (Little Love Step #2). This is a list of what your dream partner might be like. You can have some physical attributes in there, but it’s more about focusing on the qualities, values, and behaviors that are most important to you.
For example, maybe it’s important that he’s intelligent so you can have intellectual discussions, or perhaps you’d love to meet someone who enjoys traveling as much as you do so you can do that together.
This doesn’t mean that if you put “into hiking” on your love vision, and you go on a date with a guy who has never been hiking in his life, you immediately discount him. No! Use your love vision as a guide but remain open to surprises.
It’s also helpful to make a deal-breaker list. What are the things that are so important to you that if he doesn’t possess them, you wouldn’t be able to date him? For example, no criminal record or a non-smoker. 99% of the time, you won’t compromise on your deal breakers.
6. Use online dating to your advantage
One of the many pluses of online dating is that so many different sites, questionnaires, and filters can help you narrow down who you want to talk to depending on what you’re looking for. Use these to your advantage. Don’t limit yourself to slim pickings, but do filter when it comes to your core values and deal breakers. This will increase your chances of meeting someone who wants the same things and developing a real relationship that lasts forever.
7. Meet lots of people
You’re not going to meet someone if you’re always home alone on a Friday and Saturday night with a TV dinner and a bottle of rosé. That’s not harsh; it’s just the truth!
So if you truly want to meet someone, you’ve got to put yourself out there, be more social, and say yes to invites coming your way. This is Little Love Step #3.
Join dating apps, pick up new hobbies, attend classes, go out with friends, and talk to random cute strangers. When you do this, you increase the chances of meeting someone. And that’s a lot better than doing nothing and hoping a man will suddenly appear at your front door and sweep you off your feet.
When you meet guys you’re interested in, try to identify whether they might be a potential match for you based on how they act, what they talk about and your intuition.
8. Talk about your values and see if they’re aligned
Yes, it’s important that you’re attracted to someone and that there’s a connection. But having shared values when it comes to the big things is essential. You want those butterflies while also knowing that he’s cool about you not wanting kids and on board with your life-long dream to sell your house when you’re retired, buy an RV, and travel across South America. Yes, he needs to be cute and fun, but you also need to know you can build a life together!
This is why you’ve got to talk about your values sooner than later and see whether they align. It’s just as important to talk about monogamy, religion, money, parenting, and the lifestyles you want to live. This will tell you a lot about how compatible they are with you long term rather than just for now.
So don’t be afraid to ask someone what exactly they’re looking for in a relationship or what their deal breakers are.
9. Don’t compromise on the big things
If you know that you never want to have children, would love to get married someday, or want a man who goes to church with you every Sunday, and those things are integral to who you are, then don’t compromise on those things. That’s not fair to you. If you compromise, you’ll only end up miserable and unfulfilled.
This is one of those areas where it’s okay to be picky and to reject guys who aren’t on the same page as you. This is what it means to be dating with a purpose.
10. But do be willing to compromise on the smaller things
You’ll never meet someone you agree with all the time, whose choices, beliefs, and qualities mirror your own exactly. Long-term relationships are all about healthy negotiation and compromise. That doesn’t mean you give up and back down on what’s important to you. But it does mean that you’re prepared to understand where your partner is coming from and work together to create a solution when challenges arise in the future.
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11. Ask questions to know more about his relationship style
One of the best ways to get to know someone better and understand how they behave in a relationship and the kind of partner they’re looking for is to dig a little into their relationship history.
After you’ve been on a handful of dates, don’t be afraid to ask about his past. Why did his last relationship end, and how long ago was it? Has he been single for a long time, or does he usually hop from one relationship to another? What’s his love language? How does he typically deal with conflict? What kind of partner is he looking for? What are his deal-breakers?
12. Work on your communication skills
Dating with a purpose is all about knowing your end goal, then trying to get there as efficiently as possible while having a lot of fun along the way! And if you want to make it to your end goal (i.e., a successful, long-term relationship), then you’ve got to brush up on your communication skills.
Communication is essential in any relationship; this is how you deepen your connection with someone. If you can’t communicate what you want and need, express your opinion without attacking the other person, or be upfront when there’s an issue, it’s hard to know if you’re genuinely compatible. Plus, conflict is inevitable in any long-term relationship, and strong communication is how you work through that conflict in a healthy, mature way and avoid hurting each other.
13. Know what your boundaries are and maintain them
Dating with a purpose is also about setting and maintaining your boundaries and your independence. Many people meet someone and then lose themselves in that relationship and don’t know who they are without that person. This is unhealthy and is a form of neglect and co-dependence.
Any successful long-term relationship will be one where your partner lets you all the way in on the deep, emotional stuff but also gives you space to be you and do your own thing.
Boundaries are essential in relationships, and the first one is commitment (this is Little Love Step #6). Learn how to have “the talk” and make your relationship exclusive when the time is right so that you don’t end up in an infinite limbo, or worse, assume you’re exclusive when he’s still out there dating loads of other women.
14. Know when to walk away
Finally, when you date with purpose, you’re so clear on what you want and believe you deserve it that you’re ready to walk away from anyone and anything that is not helping you get there. This is such an important lesson to learn.
If something doesn’t feel right, or you’re not aligned on the big things, be prepared to leave the relationship. Conversely, recognize when things are going well, and you’re just feeling a little bored (long-term relationships are boring sometimes!), or times that require more effort from you both to make things work (this is normal).
I hope this article has shown you that dating with a purpose is vital if you have a clear goal (e.g., a happy, healthy relationship that lasts) and you don’t want to waste time dating men who don’t align with your goal. That’s not being picky; that’s just knowing what you want and taking conscious action toward it.
What does dating with a purpose look like to you, and what are you currently looking for?
Tell me in the comments below!