Dating How You Shop

During a break in one of the sessions of a weekend-class I have, several of my classmates and I stood around joking about a list of qualities one of them made. Another classmate told her that if she made a list of qualities she wanted in a mate and posted it on her fridge, she'd have a long-term relationship in 6 months. I can speak to neither the legitimacy of this claim nor the seriousness of the suggester (though if anyone does it and has some luck, let me know); however my classmate's list definitely sparked conversation.

At the top of her list was "breathing" and it went on to include "able to walk or run for 30 minutes," "brain," "between the ages of 25 and 70," "doesn't hate women," and "5'3 - 6'7." We all laughed a little because we know her dating history and know that she's tired of looking and ready to get serious.

As our conversation progressed, I mentioned that I'd heard about a book that suggested people who were looking for long-term mates do some work on themselves like living as if they already had a mate (e.g. making time in their schedule, making room in their residence) or writing themselves a love letter as if their ideal mate wrote it. Another classmate discussed a book she'd heard about that said most daters fell into two types: maximizers and satisfiers.

Maximizers are the ones who always think they can do better; they want to maximize their decision. Even when they're in a happy relationship with a person who has most of the qualities they want, they wonder whether or not they could do better. They're like the person who goes on the hunt for a black dress and puts a dress on hold at every store they can find just to be sure they don't miss out on the perfect dress at the perfect price.

Satisfiers, on the other hand, find what they're looking for and are satisfied. It never occurs to them that there might be someone out there with more of the qualities they're looking for than the person they've found. Or if it does occur to them, it doesn't matter because they found something that works. When they go shopping for that black dress, they may go to more than one store, but when they find one that meets all the requirements, they buy it and go home.

As we all discussed the pros and cons to both ways of dating (or shopping) somebody who self-described as a satisfier, added that she was satisfied until she had a reason not to be. When she met someone new who met her required qualifications she would date them right up until it didn't work. Like when shopping for a black dress, she'd purchase the first one that worked, but if she got it home and it didn't fit right or had holes in it, she'd take it back.

The classmate who'd written the list had an a-ha moment. She shared that when she bought a new black dress that she thought would work, even if she found out she it didn't, she still hung it up in her closet. Similar to her significant others, she often held on to relationships far past the moment she knew it wasn't what she wanted or wasn't working out.

"Maybe you need to change how you shop so you can change how you date." I remarked. Maybe we all should.

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