How to find (and keep) a Significant Other

samfloy~19 January 2019 /Advice

I’ve had a few conversations with people recently about how it’d be nice to have a boyfriend/girlfriend.

There were lots of similarities in the conversations. We brainstormed some ideas, and so I thought I’d share the essence in the text below. For those in long-standing relationships, there’s a link for you at the bottom.

Anyway, off we go…

What are we covering here

How to think strategically about getting a Significant Other. Not necessarily “the one”, but someone to write home about.

The concept of “strategising” over finding, well, love might seem sacrilege to some, but bear with me on this.

Not a numbers game

One philosophy to finding someone you like is to “kiss enough frogs”.

This philosophy seems a bit crude. 

Number of dates you go on/ people you speak to us undeniably a function of finding “the one”, but with finite time I’d argue it’s smarter to optimise for the other factors. 

Go fishing in the right ponds

If you’re going to spend a decent amount of time with this person you’re likely going to want some common interests.

To increase your likelihood of meeting people with a shared outlook on (at least some aspect of) life you can focus your attention a bit more in those places.

The good thing about this is, if you like doing said activity too, even if you don’t see anyone you like, you’ve still enjoyed doing it.

Actually cast your net

To string out a fishing analogy, it’s one thing to set sail and spend time in these places where your ideal  ̶c̶match will also be, but you’re much more likely to get somewhere if you’re proactive.

It’s perfectly plausible that someone you might like just bumps into you at a networking event, or sits next to you in the last free seat in the coffee shop. 

However you’re much more likely to end up having a conversation with them if you, well, go up and start a conversation with them.

Speaking to… a stranger?

A common reflex to notion of speaking to a random hottie in a public place is some derivative of “I could never do that, it’s so embarrassing”.

Let’s dig into this.

For most people, myself included, aversion to speaking to random people (with some potential for romantic interest) was borne in the playground.

This is most probably the worst ecosystem to do such a thing.

Everyone knows everyone, and news of your potential rejection would spread like wildfire. In a place where what other people think of you has a lot of social value, that’s risky business. 

What’s more, the playground is a tough environment which promotes hardy characteristics. Even if the recipient of your ask felt complimented, there’s an incentive to be aloof, and claim the higher ground that “so-and-so asked me out”.

What’s more, there’s a finite number of people in the playground who are most likely sticking around for the foreseeable future. If you get cold feet about asking out your crush, there’s always next week. 

And finally, you’re 15! Entertaining the notion of getting to “know” someone has drastically less upside compared to your older self.

All this conspires to promote a set of beliefs/ behaviours whereby if you see someone who you think you might like, your default reaction is not go and speak to them.

Real life isn’t a playground

For better or for worse, the people we interact with as adults aren’t a closed-loop network.

Whereas news of a rejection would ricochet through a school/ closed community until everyone knew about it, in real life the news would just fizzle off into nothingness. No-one will really care.

Of course if you are in some sort of closed-loop network with people whose opinions you value (i.e. work colleagues) this is a consideration, though for the majority of instances there will little to no consequence to your conversation with a stranger.

And anyway, making the effort to speak to someone you think is nice will most likely give them a good feeling.

In summary

Finding your other half is a probability game. 

Whilst there is every chance you bump into Mr/Ms Right tomorrow, there are also things you can do stack the deck in your favour, especially considering there are finite evenings/ weekends left to meet people. (I didn’t mean this to sound that ominous, but you get the point).

1. Where would someone you like hang out? E.g. coffee shop on a Saturday morning, interesting mid-week talk, ski slopes, running club, networking event
2. Spend time in those places. Could be a commitment to go one cultural/ networking event/ fitness class a week 
3. Find an excuse to speak to people you don’t know (and like the look of). Much easier (but not impossible) in a context where you can reference a shared experience. “How did you find the speaker?” (networking event) or “Are you training for any events?” (group exercise activity) > “How’s that macchiato treating you?” (coffee shop)
4. Just be normal. You’re having a conversation with another person. Whilst a small part of you might feel this is super weird, it’s not really is it.
5. Take it from there. You’ll quickly gauge if it’s something worth taking further. If not, chat to someone else, your world is bigger than the playground now

Relationship advice

Now, for those in long-standing relationships who skipped over the bulk of this, the link below is to a very good article encapsulated, I feel, by the following comment: 

“If you’re in a relationship that you’d like to prosper then reading this is probably the best way you could ever spend 30 minutes”

There’s also this piece on setting dating and relationship boundaries and this one on dating in general which might be of interest.

Anyway, as ever, would be interested to hear your thoughts on any of the points raised here. Do also feel free to forward it on to someone if you think it could be helpful.