Dating and Mate Selection — 20 September 2010
Choosing a mate should come from heart and head

Choosing a mate is probably the most important life decision one ever makes. A good selection brings comfort, health and happiness – a poor one may lead to great misery. Yet, despite its gravity, there are no formal courses, training or instruction manuals to facilitate a wise choice of a mate.

In making other important decisions in life such as jobs, careers or home purchases, most people undertake a long, well-thought-out process of assessing their interests, needs and wants and weighing the nature, preparations and rewards of various options prior to making their final choice. Mate selection, however, is believed to be the natural outcome of falling in love that is shrouded with veils of mystery, luck, magic and misconceptions. Actually, selecting a life partner should entail a similarly long, thoughtful assessment of one’s cognition, emotion and intuition.

Research teaches us that successful marriages are earned – not gifted. One of my mottos is, “Anything worth having requires energy.” Not only does marriage necessitate careful attention, but so does the preceding mate selection process. Yet, many believe that the main factor in selecting a partner is a natural outcome of falling in love, which is out of our control.

Researcher and author Ayala Malach Pines claims that in addition to unconscious motivation and early childhood experiences, “environmental, situational, dispositional, social, cultural, and even genetic factors also play a role in falling in love, and even more so in mate selection. In addition, logical consideration, social and familial pressures, plans for the future, spiritual quests, and romantic ideals affect romantic choices.”
Whether you are choosing a life mate for the first time or anew, realize that there is no magic, fortune or mystery to mate selection. It is an undertaking of carefully employing your mind, heart and intuition.

A few practical MIND HELPERS: 1. Make a list of 5-6 (no more) of essential, positive partner attributes the absence of which would be problematic for you. 2. Prepare an additional list of your “automatic disqualifiers,” such as, smoking or excessive alcohol. 3. Consider early dating as job interviews in which your date is applying for the most important job of becoming your life partner. Ask questions, listen and observe as you match your date with your trait lists.

HEART CUES: 1. Notice your level of attraction to your date. Yet, realize that not everyone who pleases your senses is necessarily a sensible choice. 2. Note your emotional ease, connection and comfort with your date. 3. Fall in love with the person – not with being loved and adored by one.

TRUST YOUR INTUITION: If after enough time, preferably 2 years of dating, your heart and mind and inner wisdom are able to visualize a long-term loving connection with this individual, you may securely proceed toward a making a solid choice and are likely to be successfully paired.

Wise mate selection is a crucial life choice combining your mind, heart and intuition’s cues as essential prerequisites for ultimate relationship success.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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