It’s a simple question that can lead to some complex answers. Fun dates and first kisses are nice, but you probably have your sights set on something long-term. If you really let your mind go, you could end up thinking about where you want to be in five or ten years.
And here’s the catch. Even if what you truly want from dating is to meet THE ONE, you have to be careful about how you say that.
Imagine he’s picking you up for your first date. He compliments you and then walks you to his car. On the way, you blurt out, “I’m really looking forward to this date. I’ve been searching high and low for someone I can have it all with. Marriage, kids, the whole shebang! Maybe that’s you!”
That’s going to make for some really awkward dinner conversation. You know, if he doesn’t just scream and run.
So there’s this tension. You want a relationship that’s long-term oriented, but if you focus too much on the long-term, it hurts where you are NOW.
One quick side-note. I’m assuming you’re already implementing the foundational principles I normally encourage to spark commitment in the first place…like the respect principle for example. It’s important to get relationship basics down first.
After that, turn your attention to making the relationship last. Ironically, you do that by focusing on today, not tomorrow.
Even Harvard researchers agree. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, their research shows that big goals have the potential to distract you from the smaller things you need to do each day to get where you want to go.[i]
There’s a surprisingly simple solution.
Forget about those long-term goals, at least while your relationship is young. Don’t even think about them. Instead, focus on the daily health of your relationship.
And it gets better. It’s super easy and even fun to shift your focus away from the long-term to the present.
The difference between romantic success and disaster comes down to just two things, and they have nothing to do with long-term focus. According to relationship psychologists, a lasting relationship comes down to emotional connection and kindness.[ii]
You can kill both birds with one stone using a simple strategy.
Every day, make it a point to perform at least one act of kindness for your partner.
I’m not talking about grand gestures. I’m talking about little things.
Offer to see the movie he wants to see, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Pick up his favorite Starbucks drink on your way to see him. Get him a small present the next time you’re out running errands. Pay him a compliment.
It doesn’t have to be anything huge because this isn’t about blowing him away. It’s about sustaining a feeling of closeness and showing him kindness each and every day. Do that, and you’re laying the groundwork for a relationship built to last.
Of course, this strategy won’t work if he doesn’t reciprocate. That’s why it’s super important that you choose your partner carefully. You want to be with a guy who returns kindness by trying to outdo you with his own small acts of kindness.
You don’t have to plan out the next ten years. Or even the next ten days! If you want a strong long-term relationship, just find something kind to do for him TODAY.
The cumulative effect of each little act of kindness is a rock-solid connection that will you’re your relationship stand the test of time.
[i] Ordonez, Lisa D., Maurice E. Schweitzer, Adam D. Galinsky, and Max H. Bazerman. “Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting.” Harvard Business School. Harvard University, 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 26 Aug. 2016.
[ii] Smith, Emily Esfahani. “Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 09 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 Aug. 2016.