Dating in the 21st century has never been easier–you don’t even have to leave your house to explore options and start a conversation with someone that might be interesting.  It’s also super easy to stay connected without much of an effort, just by liking a few posts on Instagram or Facebook or sending a quick text maybe not even with words, just an emoji to let someone know you are thinking of him or her.  Once we establish that someone is geographically convenient and shares a few common interests, maybe we put in some effort to meet up, or perhaps just hook up.  Then, if there is chemistry, this usually becomes the main focus for a while– maybe weeks or even months, and if that is all you both wanted then great, mission accomplished, and you can both enjoy the fun while it lasts.

But what if someone wants more than just a fun, temporary fling?  What if you are actually looking for someone that will not just be around to meet your short-term entertainment needs?  Well, then you first have to realize that not everyone you meet shares this same mind-frame, and next you have to develop a better way to screen.  You cannot just focus on activities you enjoy doing with others– we all like to go to the movies, try new restaurants, travel and have someone to take as our plus one to social events.  Anyone that is half-way decent looking with mediocre social skills can fill this role, so this is not the point.  Your mission is to dig deep, into the issues that really matter.

20 Questions is about mapping– you need to figure out (1) a person’s family history and educational background, (2) where they are currently in life, and (3) what life goals do they have?   As you gather the answers to these questions, check your gut.  Are they hiding something?  Do their words match their actions?  Do they mean what they say, and say what they mean?  Are they bothered by your questions, or do they welcome and share in your curiosity?

Ultimately, you want to find someone that shares in your core values.  If education and career goals are important to you, don’t dismiss the fact that someone else is nonchalant about these things.  If you are financial responsible and incredibly organized, don’t minimize the fact that someone else is not.  If you care about maintaining a healthy life style and and developing a close network of family and friends, don’t ignore someone’s clear tendency to be an anti-social coach potato.  Simply put, while opposites often attract they don’t last because you cannot build a life with someone that does not align with your mission, vision and values.

Dr. Kasl wrote in her book “If the Buddha Dated” that we need to view dating as a journey—and from each experience we learn something about what we need or what we cannot tolerate in our relationships. Sadly, while adopting this approach you may find yourself spending a significant amount of time racking up a laundry list of can’t stands while minimizing your real “needs” before you find anyone really worthy of your time and energy, but I do believe all those lessons serve a purpose, even if the result is to just become more at peace with yourself.

As you can see, when you only care about superficial qualities, the Dating Game these days is super easy thanks to modern technology.  But, when you are not just dating for fun, you actually are going to have to step up your game to filter through a lot more crap.  No doubt it can be a very frustrating process at times, but I do believe dating is supposed to be hard, so that when you do find that right person, you will not take him/her for granted.

By Regina A. DeMeo