Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a committed relationship with a compatible partner? Let’s face it, romantic relationships can be very difficult. My friend Cindy Austin has been putting in a lot of work as a therapist and researcher over the last several years to help people find a compatible partner.
What she has found is that relationships tend to do very well if the partners both know themselves well before getting into a relationship. And not only knowing themselves, but also knowing what they want in a partner.
Cindy has started a dating program called Deliberate Dating. This program helps single people understand more about themselves and what they want out of a partner. Which tends to lead to healthier long term relationships (versus focusing on patching up a relationship that isn’t healthy after you are in it for awhile).
Here is the video of Cindy Austin and I talking about some of the ways that single people can find a great partner up front and enjoy life with that person. Cindy’s daughter Brooke also joined us to give her perspective on relationships.
How to Go from Being a Single Person to Finding a Compatible Romantic Partner
Cindy, Brooke and I discussed a healthy path that people can take after leaving a previous relationship and finding a new partner that is a great fit for both people.
Here is an outline of what we discussed in our video linked above:
What is a Healthy Romantic Relationship?
Cindy talked a bit about codependency vs. inter dependency in relationships. She suggests that partners being fully reliant upon each other (codependent) is much unhealthier than partners enjoying having a solid friend to fall back on and navigate life together (inter dependent).
She also says a healthy romantic relationship is one that three things:
- and Transforms your life
It’s common for relationships to do one or two of these three things. But a solid relationship is one that does all three. A relationship that heals you from past experiences, enriches your current life, and transforms you into a better version of yourself.
I know these three attributes of a healthy relationship sound amazing to me. Sign me up!
When are You Ready to Date?
We talked a bit about this and I think Brooke hit the nail on the head. “Whenever you are ready to date” is how you know you’re ready.
I know this can be a bit more complicated than that but it’s important to listen to your own self. There is no magical formula for knowing if it’s time to date. Everyone is different. Some people may need 3 months and others may need 3 years. And this could change from relationship to relationship as well.
So the best advice I get from this is to be self aware and typically you can get a sense of when you are ready to date based on the way you feel when you even start to think about dating again.
For example, I have been out of a long term relationship for almost 3 years now and I still get somewhat uneasy when I think about dating someone new. Though these feelings are less uneasy than they were even a year ago. So I feel much closer to being in a good spot for my own sake to date.
What You Should Know About Yourself Before Dating
Cindy says that a healthy relationship is one that enriches your life. So knowing that, it’s good to first figure out what you enjoy in life.
Brooke pointed out that she finds it helpful to figure out what activities you like doing. Maybe you enjoy working out, or playing a musical instrument. Once you know what you enjoy in life, then it’s much easier to find a partner who also enjoys those hobbies.
I believe that it even goes slightly deeper than this. I’m a big fan of figuring out what attributes you enjoy and are good at in life. So I may like to play basketball for several years of my life, but then I switch to Pickleball during another period of my life. This made me think that I don’t necessarily need to look for someone that likes the particular sport I’m into at the moment, but maybe someone that enjoys the same reason why I play different sports and games.
What I’ve noticed about myself is that basketball and Pickleball are both outlets to my competitiveness. And I’ve realized that I enjoy being around competitive people that share that attribute with me. I would be much happier being competitive together at a new game my partner and I discovered than I would having my partner play a game just for fun that I want to be competitive at.
Different Ways for Singles to Meet Like Minded People
Once you figure out a bit about who you are and what you like to do. It’s time to start finding activities where like minded people meet.
Note that you don’t necessarily have to go to “singles only” events. Sometimes someone knows someone that knows a friend that works with someone who is single that enjoys the same type of events.
The important part is just showing up to places and events of activities that you enjoy.
I use a website called Meetup on and off when wanting to meet new friends that enjoy similar activities to me. I do this both when looking for a like-minded romantic partner and also just to find friends that share interests.
What are Some Benchmarks in a Romantic Relationship?
This was a great question that my friend Justen helped me think of when brainstorming for this talk. I’m grateful to have amazing friends like him to help me come up with awesome questions like this.
Here are several of the milestones or benchmarks in a romantic relationship. (These are in no particular order):
- Meeting the friends and family of your partner in a pace that is comfortable for both people.
- Talking about money with your partner (Who should pay for meals? How should we split the costs of going on dates?)
- Discussing religious views with your partner
These are several of the important benchmarks that you will see in a romantic relationship. Remember that the order of these benchmarks change from person to person. The “right way” to go through a relationship is based on you and your partners’ lifestyle. Not what *everyone else* does with theirs.
The 5 Love Languages
Cindy, Brooke and I also discussed the 5 common love languages:
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Positive words of affirmation
- Acts of service
How you express your love and how you enjoy love being expressed to you are important. Cindy has found in her research that romantic partners that share love languages tend to be much happier and fulfilled with their relationship.
I know I’ve felt much more connected in my past relationships to those who share my love languages. When I’ve been in a relationship with someone who prioritizes love languages that are opposite of mine, I feel unfulfilled while also frustrated that I can’t please my partner (because I’m showing them love in a way that is foreign to them as well.)
How to Bring Up Difficult Conversations in a Relationship?
Problems come up at some point in a relationship. Small problems can often times grow into larger problems. It’s helpful to talk about the problems before they grow too big. But how do you do that?
I find knowing the alternative is important for me to bring up difficult conversations. I naturally tend to avoid confrontation and try to make all parties happy. This is impossible at times no matter how much I want it to be.
Let’s say that I am mad at a friend or partner because they are doing something that I feel is hurtful. Something small like not following through on plans we had made for dinner. This is something I would usually ignore on the first and second time. But on the third time and on, it would start to really bother me and make me feel like they don’t value my time.
Though to them, they may just think “oh Calvin is flexible, he doesn’t mind me cancelling last minute.” So I understand that they aren’t doing it to make me feel bad while I also know that it IS starting to make me upset.
I would have a couple of options:
- Be upset every time they cancel on me last minute (which usually means that I just stop asking that person to meet up).
- Or let them know how it makes me feel when they cancel plans with me.
Knowing the alternative to bringing up this difficult situation is me not getting to see my friend/partner as much (or me being more and more upset every time they back out of plans) is helpful to me gaining the courage to talk to them about it and let them know how I feel.
“It hurts my feelings when we make plans together and you back out last minute. I get excited to see you because I enjoy spending time with you but then I feel let down when you have to cancel.”
Normally the person will be sympathetic and try to meet my needs/desires more and our relationship will be better because of it. Or they won’t and then I can know that they actually don’t respect me and I can move on to finding new friends/partners.
Bonus Video: What a Healthy Romantic Relationship Looks Like
Cindy and I did a bonus video after we recorded this episode. She showed me what a healthy relationship looks like with an amazing analogy. Here it is:
I’m a very visual learner so this was a great way for me to better understand what a healthy relationship looks like (and what to expect as you go through life with a romantic partner)
What are Your Thoughts on Finding a Compatible Romantic Partner and Having a Healthy Relationship?
It was truly awesome having Cindy Austin and Brooke on the show. I know I learned a lot about finding a compatible partner by talking with them. Discovering ways to know myself better and what I would like out of a partner is also very helpful to me going forwards.
What have you found helpful in your experience here on this earth? I want to learn from you too. Let us know in the comments below!