Many people dislike the process of finding a mate and going on dates with potential partners. Everyone faces doubts, frustration and despair while dating in one way or another. What do you need to know to find the right person?

Family therapist Stacey Hubbard, in collaboration with the Gottman Institute, has developed the ‘Principles for Singles’ programme. The aim is to help singles acquire the knowledge and skills needed to build healthy relationships. The course is based on John Gottman’s Seven Rules for a Successful Marriage. The therapist has taken these rules into the realm of finding a partner and creating a relationship based on mutual trust, understanding and support.


Psychologist John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago studied a sample of more than 19,000 people who got married between 2005 and 2012. 35% of respondents met online, 14% met at work and 12% found each other through mutual acquaintances. With an increasingly busy and time-poor workforce, online dating sites and apps are becoming a major channel for finding a match, but beware of the limitations.

1. Too much choice
Social psychologist Sheena Iyengar of Columbia Business School conducted experiments in which participants were asked to choose jam in a grocery shop. When people were offered six varieties, they were 10 times more likely to buy than when they were offered 24 varieties. The researchers believe that an overabundance of options leads to indecision and causes decision paralysis.

2. Comparisons
Leafing through the questionnaires, you get into ‘general evaluation’ mode and start comparing people to each other, which makes you see them as products to be chosen and consumed, rather than people to get to know and meet.


Social psychologist Eli Finkle has studied modern algorithms that calculate compatibility and concluded that they have little effect. He believes that we should not get hung up on finding someone who is like us. We should look for someone who is right for the relationship.

According to him, there are two criteria to assess this: the ability to build trust and the absence of signs of neurosis

If you meet someone, don’t waste a lot of time on correspondence. The maximum time is two weeks, then you should go to a meeting. Seeing someone face-to-face is the only way to find out if you have a future with that person.


What to do
The Gottman Institute once asked followers on social media for ideas for the best first date. The most common answers: walking and talking. Subscribers suggested walking in different forms: go for a hike, walk around the park or town. Most seem to find that walking relieves stress. It is not necessary to maintain direct eye contact while walking, which makes communication more relaxed.

How to choose a partner
When dating, it’s important not to fall into the trap of serial dating, where you go on multiple first dates with different people instead of settling on one person. University of Texas at Austin psychologists Lucy Hunt and Paul Eastwick conducted a study and found that in most cases “unique value” is more important than “partner value”.

“Partner value” is the first impression of the other person’s outward appearance and assessment of attractiveness. “Unique value” manifests itself over time through shared experiences and getting to know each other more intimately.

The first date is usually not enough to spot important personality traits; it takes longer.

That is why it is better to get to know a person slowly, and perhaps go on a second and third date with him or her before discarding him or her and moving on to get to know someone else.

How to cope with excitement
If you find it difficult to cope with nerves on a first date, show interest in the other person instead of trying to appear interesting. To establish a quality conversation, ask questions that require detailed answers and questions that develop or deepen a topic.

For example, if the person says they love their job, you could ask, “What do you like most about it?” This will show your potential partner’s interest and attention, and it will also relieve nervous tension.