- Years old:
- I am 26
- Who do I prefer:
- Heavy metal
I call this pursuing The Prom Date.
Someone who looks great in pictures, gives you a night full of fun, and makes you look cool in front of your friends. Do you really want to marry the Prom Date? To worry if your partner is going to help you take care of your aging parents?
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The answers have little bearing on whether you want to kiss the person or go out with them again. And who wants to think about diarrhea on a first date!?
Someone you can rely on. Someone to make decisions with.
The Life Partner. There are many people with whom you can share a tryst but far fewer with whom you can build a life.
Instead, ask: Can I make a life with this person? If you really are seeking a long-term relationship with a committed partner, you need to stop looking for a Prom Date and start seeking a Life Partner.
In addition to coaching, I also work as a matchmaker and set my clients up on dates. We can compare that to what the academic field of relationship science tells us actually matters for long-term relationship success.
In the end, people may really just want to date themselves
We can thank John Gottman for many of these relationship science insights. He spent many years studying romantic relationships. There, he recorded them discussing their relationship. He asked couples to share the story of how they met and then recount a recent fight.
Years after they participated in the apartment study, Gottman followed up with the couples to check on their relationships. He studied the original tapes of these two types of couples to learn what patterns separated the masters from the disasters. In other words, the research tells us what makes a good Life Partner.
However, these are not the traits my matchmaking clients tend to ask for. Instead, they focus on short-term desirability—or the characteristics of a good Prom Date.
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Not only do we undervalue the qualities that matter for long-term relationships, we overvalue irrelevant ones. People tend to fixate on certain superficial characteristics and ignore the far more important factors that are correlated with long-term relationship happiness more on those in a moment.
Superficial qualities like looks and money matter less for long-term relationship success than people think they do because lust fades and people adapt to their circumstances. The same goes for similar personalities and similar hobbies. Or good at making hard decisions.
And yet these are all examples of qualities that relationship scientists have found contribute much more to long-term relationship success than superficial traits or shared interests. One reason is that these qualities can be hard to measure. They may be discernible only after spending time with someone.
This also explains why dating apps focus on the easier-to-measure, matter-less-than-you-think traits. If you want to find a Life Partner, look for someone with the following traits: loyalty, kindness, emotional stability, and a growth mindset. You want a person with whom you can grow, make hard decisions, and argue with constructively. All rights reserved. Get the communication tools you need to build the relationship you always wanted.
What does it mean to be ‘ready’ for a relationship?
The Relationship Coach is available now on Gottman Connect. As the Director of Relationship Science at the dating app Hinge, Logan le a research team dedicated to helping people find love.
Learn more at LoganUry. Search for:.
7 questions you should always ask on a first date, according to experts
The prom date vs. What we get wrong about what matters In addition to coaching, I also work as a matchmaker and set my clients up on dates.
What matters less than we think Not only do we undervalue the qualities that matter for long-term relationships, we overvalue irrelevant ones.