At a certain point, the long-term life goals of your romantic partner (like whether to have children, what kind of career to develop, and so on) start to become more important. In your teens and 20s, you might favor someone’s looks, current hobbies, and current personality exclusively, barely giving your future much thought. But as you get older, or more concerned about that future, you might start getting pickier.
The trouble is, it’s hard to deliberately meet people who share your life goals; you can instantly judge someone’s physical attractiveness by looking at them, but determining whether they want to get married and how many kids they might want requires a much more significant time investment. So how are you supposed to approach dating when those are your priorities?
Step One: Organize Your Goals
Your first step is building a greater awareness of your life goals—and how those translate into dating goals. Make a list of everything you want for the future; think about the prospects of your career, your future wealth, your retirement, whether you want marriage, whether you want kids, and big-picture visions of how you want to spend your life, like if you want to travel.
Then, organize those goals in a system that ranks how important they are to you. For example, it might be of dire importance that you have children, but only marginally important that you have two kids, and as long as you have a partner who wants kids, acquiring wealth may be a secondary priority.
Step Two: Use the Right Platforms
Next, you’ll want to use the right platforms to make sure you’re meeting and matching with people more likely to share your goals. If you’re open to the world of online dating, you’ll want to look for the best dating apps and websites on which to make a profile. Some of these are designed to a specific demographic, like older people, and some tend to attract people with a specific dating goal, like casually hooking up. Learn your audiences carefully, and make a profile on the apps you feel are most likely to lead you to the partner you want.
If you’re looking to meet people in person, you can look to meet people in environments likely to attract the type of person you eventually want to date. For example, a singles bar full of young people may not be the best place to find someone serious about planning for retirement. Check out the meetups available in your area, and attend several to get a feel for the type of people who attend each one.
Step Three: Be Blunt in Your Profile
If you’re venturing into the world of online dating, you’ll want to spend some time polishing your dating profile. Many dating apps will have a form for you to fill out with regard for your intentions, such as if you’re looking for a long-term or short-term relationship and whether you want any kids. Even if these forms do exist, be sure to mention your most important goals in the body of your dating profile. Some people browse through profiles quickly, and others outright ignore them, so it doesn’t hurt to be extra blunt. That way, you’ll avoid wasting time on conversations and dates that aren’t going to help you achieve your goals.
Step Four: Have a Discussion Early On
Regardless of whether you met your date online or in person, it’s a good idea to discuss your future goals for your family and life. For some people, a discussion about the long-term future may kill the mood—but these probably aren’t the people you want to date in the first place. Besides, a surprising number of people actively want to talk about long-term plans early on when dating. Merely wanting to get married eventually doesn’t mean you want to marry this person, right now. Instead, it pays to reveal your intentions as straightforwardly as possible; that way, your prospective partner will understand what you’re looking for, and you’ll both only continue to spend time with each other if it makes sense for both of you.
These strategies can help you significantly narrow down the field and increase the likelihood that you find someone who shares all your life goals. That doesn’t mean it’s easy; people have all sorts of preferences for the future, and some don’t think much about the future at all. Finding someone with whom you match on everything is rare, and that’s excluding important attractiveness variables like personality and physical features.
Still, life goals are something you can’t practically compromise on, so it’s worth making the extra effort and remaining patient.