Mommies warned us about them, Aunties wiped the tears they caused, and friends helped us burn all the things that reminded us of them over a small, contained fire in the backyard. Growing up among women, jerks have gotten just as much notoriety as the Boogie Man. And even though rumor has it they both like to hangout in girl’s closets from time to time, the difference is jerks actually exist. By now I know all about the jerk’s natural habitat, native language, and here-today-gone-tomorrow mating ritual. I earned my Master’s degree in who NOT to date long before I even graduated high school. But looking back on it, I can’t say that I’d accumulated the same wealth of information on Mr. Right. I’d only heard of Prince Charming in fairy tales that ended ubiquitously and ambiguously in happily ever after. And considering I never met a real-live Cinderella outside of Disneyland, I figured–like her–he must be fantasy. In other words, if the right guy fell out of the sky with wings, a halo, and a white robe with black lettering that read boldly “PASSION’S SOULMATE”, I’d still ask God for a sign. Mostly because nobody ever told me what to look for in a good man, only what NOT to look for. And maybe nobody taught you either. So I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the 7 habits of highly effective daters when it comes to spotting a catch. So I surveyed 100 people. Okay no I didn’t. I polled my friends in relationships and backed it up with info from experts. But I’d like to think its useful information all the same:
1) Obey the Laws of Attraction
Put simply, attraction IS important. To some of you, this might sound like a no-brainer. But to others, like me, you might have wondered if turning down good prospects that weren’t too easy on the eyes makes you shallow. According to Aaron Ben-Zeev of Psychology Today, in his article “When Do We Fall in Love?,” he argues invoking romantic love requires the presence of both physical attraction to outward appearance and attraction to a person’s personality traits. So don’t feel bad about turning down the weirdo that sits behind you in Statistics drooling just because he’s probably a nice guy. If the sight of someone’s face makes you want to hurl, there’s little chance for compatibility.
2) Trust Basic Instincts
According to Dr. Sian Beilock , author of Choke a book that looks at the brain and performance, “even when our mind doesn’t realize we made a mistake, our body does.” So why not extrapolate this to the dating game? Well the good daters do! The people who meet their mates listen to that bad feeling, that anxious feeling, or that nauseated feeling (See “Safety vs. Passion“). And they run away from the drama. How many times have you heard someone say “I always knew in the back of my mind, it wasn’t going to work out.” So start bringing what’s in the back to the forefront! Dr. Beilock goes on to talk about how focusing on the outcome (in our case, a good match-up) is more important than analyzing the particulars of the method. Trust that at the end of the day, your body knows what it wants and knows whats best for it.
3) Remember: “It Ain’t No Fun if Ya Friends Can’t Have None”
Although this phrase historically sings the praises of sharing sex partners as a means of camaraderie, I’m here to revamp it. For those of us who have made bad decisions in Love, it can sometimes be hard to follow through with step 2. So if you’re a little skeptic of your own opinion, why not look to those you Love and who Love you the most? Share your “catch” with the people in your world. Whether it came from Will Smith or some other notable, many of us are familiar with the saying “you are who you associate with.” In theory then, you’re closest friends and family members would also get along with and like your most significant other. And it makes for a more drama-free, easy-going relationship, when you don’t always have to decide between your family and your girlfriend or your friends and your boyfriend.
4) Everyone Loves a Comple[te]ment
In geometry, there’s a concept called complementary angles (yeah, I know I didn’t do well in that class either). It involves 2 angles that always add up to a Right Angle (90°). That means if one angle equals 60° the other angle will equal 30°. And the amount of one angle always changes to complement the other. They work together. When looking for a mate, a good dater looks for their complement. Where you’re weak, the other person is strong & vice versa. This assures that you + them always = RIGHT! So even though you should come into a relationship already complete, a good complement gives a sense of wholeness that’s not accomplished on your own.
That’s all Aretha asked for–just a little bit. And I definitely think her head was in the right place. A loving relationship without mutual respect is like apple pie without the a la mode–not quite good enough. Sweet but not satiating. You’re always going to want more. Dr. David W. Edgerly says, “Often, in relationship counseling, I find that one or both partners believe themselves to be truly better than (maybe even superior to) their partner. Not just better at certain tasks or skills but better as a whole person. This is what leads to the idea that if only one’s partner could be ‘fixed’ then the partnership would be happy and successful.” But he goes on to say that true respect means earnestly seeing your partner as a more than capable human being. And if he or she isn’t capable in your opinion, than maybe he or she isn’t for you.
6) Delay Gratification
A study featured in October’s issue of The Washington Post from researchers at the University of Iowa suggests that couple’s who prolong the sexual part of their relationship tend to be happier than those who have sex early. Why? Well delaying sex tends to help a proficient dater weed out the mate who’s serious about taking things further and the one just interested in a one hit her quit her. So the next time you’re tempted to an undercover session, opt to wait a while and see what the person says. If the potential boo has problems following your intimacy time line, this could be a sign of much more serious issues. Besides, good things come to those who
go to bed horny wait.
7) Accept What You See & Not What You Hope to See
When dating jerks, I had a habit of looking past their jerkiness. I saw what Mr. Wrong could be and overlooked the red flags waving incessantly in front of me. If he possessed some traits I considered less than honorable, I wanted to help him or fix him. And eventually I fell in love–not with the individual but with his potential. This practice worked against us both. I kept falling for men that only existed in my mind and he missed out on someone who genuinely accepted him for him. It’s like going to a restaurant. If the menu says no substitutions, no alternatives, no changes, would you still order that dish? Your catch is someone you accept and that accepts you without hassle.